11 May Top 5 tips for branding and promotion during COVID-19
It is difficult to know how to handle your small business branding and promotion during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is certainly room for your reputation to be enhanced or tarnished. Even if you have a strong understanding of your target market, the current situation impacts each individual so differently. The attitudes, feelings and responses of people vary, and are constantly changing as we move through the situation. With all of your branding and promotion it’s good to keep in mind: ‘We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat’.
Basically, there is no definitive answer about the way to undertake branding or promotion in the current situation. It’s a balancing act. However, I offer you my top five tips to help you navigate the storm and decide what will work for your business.
1. Put the customer first
Business is always about the customer. Put the customer first with a ‘we’re here to help’ approach. Be empathetic and kind, and genuinely connect and offer help. The current situation is an opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing customers and connect with potential customers.
As always, market research can help you to find out what your customers want and need. I don’t mean a quantitative survey, though perhaps you could use a social media poll. Have conversations with customers, or use social media listening. Check out Facebook to gauge how people are feeling, find out what they’re thinking, and where the sentiment of your target market is. Or you might like to use a tool like Google Alerts, Hootsuite or Twazzup.
2. Don’t be opportunistic
Be helpful and genuine, not opportunistic. Exploitation and causing fear, alarm or confusion are not useful. You shouldn’t be capitalising on the situation or appear to be. If you have a service or product that can help, you should promote it, but be cautious about the language and imagery you use. Focus on the benefits of what you are offering rather than selling fear.
3. Content is an even bigger king
Content is always king, but content marketing is even more important during this pandemic. People have more time to be online, so email and social media have a bigger role than ever to play in our branding and promotion. Of course along with this there is also increased clutter – competing posts and jammed inboxes.
To get past this, and to positively influence your brand, you need to focus on providing relevant, useful and helpful information. Understand the issues your customers are having and help them. Think quality over quantity.
There may also be the opportunity for some fun, sharing observations and stories, or funny COVID memes about our current reality. Where it is appropriately aligned with your brand personality and with your customers in mind of course. You can’t be flippant if your customers are fearful.
4. Be aware of COVID-fatigue
There is COVID-fatigue in many parts of the community. Some people are switching off their socials, feeling the overload and overwhelm. Or are just sick of hearing about the pandemic and need a break from it.
So it’s a balancing act between overdoing the pandemic focus and not acknowledging it. Which is why it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of your customers. Be careful with messages and images. Overused sentiments and phrases can induce some eye-rolling which is not beneficial for your reputation.
5. Go with your intuition
As you are experiencing the different feelings, emotions and impacts of the situation, and seeing how your friends, family and community are responding, you will have an acute awareness of the issues. Trust your intuition when it comes to branding and promotion. This is not a situation you can logically analyse. And if you make a mistake, apologise and move on. We are all human and are living in unprecedented times. Errors of judgement can happen.
Mini case study: Branding and promoting Beyond Business Groups
At Beyond Business Groups we are riding out the storm too. Like many of you we are adapting our small business, and working out how to build our brand and promote during the pandemic.
Understanding that small business owners need support to deal with the emotional and financial impacts, our primary intention is to be helpful. For example, posting COVID-related tips in our social media, writing practical articles about working from home during COVID-19, virtual meeting etiquette, maintaining mental wellbeing and adding a shopping cart to a website. However, we are not only focused on the pandemic. We share a range of other helpful information and try to have a bit of fun.
We know small business owners may be reluctant to invest in our learning program at the moment. Even though we know the value and benefit of having your own brains trust to share the challenges and bounce ideas off. We are not focused on encouraging people to create a group now – in fact we’ve deferred our next intake until July. But we are keen to get the message out about how our groups work and what the benefits are for beyond the pandemic. We know businesses will be assessing how their businesses have changed and how this impacts their business strategy, marketing, branding, systems and processes, finances and so on. And that our guided program for working on all aspects of their businesses, and regularly connecting with others might be just what they need.
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