17 March 2020

By Relebohile Kobeli – Digital Campaign Specialist

Coronavirus (CODVID-19) has the world in a stir, and many brands are suffering. Self-isolation and government-imposed quarantine is keeping consumers across the globe from brick and mortar stores. Issues in logistics are lessening e-sales, shelves and warehouses are left cleaned out as a result of manufacturing closures in China. No brand, big or small is untouchable.

The pressure is ramping up on marketing teams to ride on this public health crises wave to keep businesses afloat and brands memorable. While consumer demand for some products and services has spiked, others will experience a massive drop in sales to a point of no return.

Agility is the key to mitigating the impact of public health emergencies. You need to rethink your marketing efforts to make them more relevant and effective.  Here are a few things you can implement to sustain your brand in this crisis.

Advertising should echo brand safety

There is a rebirth of contextual targeting that is driven by the change in privacy regulations. During this sensitive time, marketers need to put their ads in the right context; there needs to be more attention and thought about where ads are seen. For example, if a travel company places their travel ads in China right now, they may be perceived as inappropriate bearing in mind the travel restrictions enforced by the government.

You can utilize big data and artificial intelligence techniques such as deep learning and natural language processing to evaluate data and gain a better understanding of the content that competitors, public health professionals and governments have released. This will ensure that your ad placements do not create a negative brand impression, keeps your brand relevant and safe and does not damage your brands' reputation.

Show support to your audience, don’t hard sell

At this present moment, as a marketer, the question on your mind should not be ‘How can I increase my sales?’. Rather, you should be thinking about how you can support your customers. Trying to take advantage of the situation right now and forcing profit drives has a higher likelihood of tainting your brand image.

Step up to show support and pledge to help fight against the virus. The support your brand is demonstrating to consumers doesn’t have to be an extreme one. You can in your own way, offer a service or product to people in need of aid at this time or give a monetary donation. It will not only be making a difference, but it will also work wonders for PR as well.

Make use of topics and keywords for precise targeting

COVID-19 is global news. That means that there is a lot of social sharing, people are talking about it, they are flocking to the internet to find out more and buying products to help protect themselves.  

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for brands in the healthcare, wellness and medical sectors, to build and strengthen their relationship with consumers. You can only do this successfully if you are targeting the right customers and using the right keywords.

Google Analytics can provide you with data that will help you identify and determine the profile of the people reading coronavirus related content, what they are searching for and where they are mostly looking.  This information will help you segment your audience to deliver more targeted and relevant content to your consumers.

Focus on multichannel communication

In a state of panic, people value communication, it keeps them at ease and makes them feel valued. It is crucial to keep consumers in the know, whether you are facing a high demand or logistical delays or even struggling to replenish your stock due to manufacturing closures, you need to manage your customers’ expectations.

Keep customers updated on estimated delivery times, make them aware of delays in your operations, why they are happening and what they can expect from you. By doing this you reduce consumers frustration levels and prevent them from shopping at your competitors' stores.

Now is the perfect time to invest in different modes of communication, people are looking for a source of comfort and brands that keep them in close contact. Consumers will be looking for ways to reach you, use multiple channels to engage them, it can be through website, social media, push notifications or email.

Make your creatives relevant

Coronavirus is currently ‘trending’, incorporating visuals and keywords relevant to the pandemic into your ads and marketing campaigns will draw attention to them. Nevertheless, you need to ensure that they are appropriate and don’t elicit dangerous behaviour.

Taking advantage of consumer panic-buying can tarnish your brand's reputation in the long run. Avoid using marketing campaigns broadly for service and products that are not related in any way to the crisis. If for example, you are selling products like hand sanitizers, you should be getting your product and message out there as such products have a potential to help people right now.  

Target your high-value customers

Resources are going to be running low due to manufacturing closures and logistical delays, making it harder to deliver products to paying customers, counterproductively, there’s going to be an increase in e-commerce sales.

With this said, your marketing strategies should be less focused on new customer acquisition and more on cultivating existing customer relationships with the highest lifetime value. These are the customers who will most likely stick with your brand beyond the pandemic period.

The most important take away is to show support to your customers, keep in communication with them and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. This will keep your brand relevant and a go-to, sustaining it into the future.  




Covid-19 South Africa

For information about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, plus statistics on its spread in SA and related government press releases go to https://sacoronavirus.co.za/