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Marketing Your Business in the Coronavirus Era

Despite the rhetoric that the Coronavirus is “just a flu”, evidence thus far has proven it to be a virulent and deadly strain of this seasonal virus.  As a result, governments across the globe are taking appropriate action to curb the spread, and the orders to observe social distancing, work from home, and self-isolate have created some serious difficulties for many businesses.

That said, there are things businesses can do to maintain communication with customers, encourage continued patronage, and try to keep profits up while we ride out the storm.  Here are a few sound strategies to market your business until Coronavirus fears have passed and social restrictions have lifted.

Practice Safety First

The safety of your employees, your customers, and yourself and your loved ones is of the utmost importance during these turbulent times, and as a responsible business owner, you need to do all you can to observe safety precautions.  First and foremost, this means acknowledging that there’s a problem and making adjustments to minimize risk factors for spreading the virus.

You’ll need to consider whether your team can work from home, or if you fit the guidelines to maintain business operations, depending on current federal or state restrictions, as well as CDC recommendations.  Many businesses are downsizing to only essential staffing, limiting the number of people who can enter the space at any given time, and mandating social distancing of at least six feet, while also implementing stringent safety protocols like frequently sanitizing hands and surfaces.  Make sure your marketing strategy includes informing consumers of your safety precautions.

Focus on Online Elements

Whether you’ve shuttered your brick-and-mortar operation for the time being or you’re operating with a skeleton crew, chances are you’ve seen a significant slow-down in business.  Now is a great time to focus on building up the online arm of your operation, whether you finally get around to updating your website, you add an online store, or you increase your SEO and digital marketing efforts.  This is a way to not only stay in touch with consumers and potentially reach a new audience, but to boost lagging real-world sales.

Adapt Your Strategy for the New Normal

After Cost Plus World Market informed consumers they were closing stores, they sent out a coupon to members for 25% off work-from-home essentials like desks, laptop tables, and chairs.  Many restaurants have started offering online ordering and free delivery service for local customers.  Burger King quickly released advertising informing consumers that anyone using the online app to place orders would receive two free kids’ meals with an adult meal purchase, and touting the benefits of “minimum-contact” drive-thru and delivery options.

Pivoting to continue offering valuable goods and services that meet changing consumer needs is a wise strategy, but you have to make sure your marketing strategy strikes the right tone.  You need to take a consumer service stance that ensures you’re adding value, and you need to steer clear of even the slightest whiff of price gouging or profiteering, which could cause consumers to turn on you (and potentially result in criminal charges).

Instead of selling your overstock of hand sanitizer and N-95 masks at outrageous prices, consider following in the footsteps of businesses like Montana-based Montgomery Distillery, which started using alcohol left over from fermented grain to make hand sanitizer for first responders, in keeping with WHO and USDA protocols.  When you work for the good of customers and your community, you have the best opportunity to see that support reciprocated.

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