It’s natural to want to scale back your business right now considering the immense disruption and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic distress. But overcoming a downward economy depends on keeping businesses open as much as possible and implementing new ideas to meet the shifting needs of your customers. Working with a digital marketing agency who is trained and knowledgeable in helping you execute a crisis management plan ensures you can stay in the game.
Digital is viewed as the safest, most reliable option for communicating with others right now in the midst of the novel coronavirus. More than other channels, digital is safe, widely seen, and effective at conveying your brand’s message in the most compelling way. If you’re struggling to maintain the same level of brand awareness or wish you had a clearer path through these uncertain times, a digital marketing plan for navigating crises can help.
You Don’t Have to “Turn Off” Your Business
One thing that hasn’t been disrupted in the wake of the pandemic is people’s digital habits. Though highly increased due to shelter-in-place and work from home orders, people are still checking their email, shopping online, and using social media in the same ways they used to. And with stimulus checks, cash flow from continuing to work at home, and revenue of online or essential businesses, there’s still money to be spent. If you’re able to function online, it’s important not to feel as if you need to “turn off” your business.
There are many digital aspects of a business that can continue on, including (but not limited to):
- Generating, qualifying, and nurturing leads
- Inviting online sales
- Booking future engagements
- Engaging with customers via social media
- Producing digital content
- Providing customer support
Throughout history, new and innovative solutions have emerged out of crisis and hardship. It’s important now, more than ever, to get creative with your business model and find a digital marketing partner who can help you amplify your efforts.
If you’re able to function online, it’s important not to
feel as if you need to “turn off” your business.
How Can a Digital Agency Help in Times of Crisis?
There are a number of digital services that can help you keep the lights on. Best of all, these tactics are underlying tools that can (and should) serve your business no matter what the economic climate. A marketing agency ensures you stay relevant and productive through:
Digital visibility management. Digital visibility is about how detectable your online presence is. Managing digital visibility means developing a digital strategy — from search to advertising — to optimize your brand’s presence.
Google provides more ROI than any other digital platform, and in times of uncertainty, it’s critical that when a prospect starts searching for keywords in your industry, your business lands at the top.
Search engine optimization and marketing. Search engine optimization is done by strategically planting the most relevant keywords and phrases in your online content so potential customers can find you easily and organically — without additional cost to you. When done right, SEO works for you around the clock, helping your site rank higher in web search results.
By contrast, search engine marketing (SEM) is where you purchase advertising so that certain keywords will deliver your content to searchers. Both can be amplified by a marketing agency, reviewing your content and optimizing it for the highest searchability, understanding, and relatability by customers.
Social listening and sentiment analysis. Corporate social media is a two-way street, not a platform to shout brand messages from. Social listening involves actively monitoring for mentions of your brand and responding to customer posts across social media, while also adjusting your tactics and content to meet their needs.
From there, analyzing customer sentiment in digital posts helps you gauge how well your posts are resonating and alerts you to negative responses. In the midst of crisis, this tool can be crucial, helping you gauge customer frustration, fears, and even praise about your products or services. With shortages of many essential products and changes to business hours due to COVID-19, companies across consumer goods, healthcare, financial services, and many other industries have turned to social listening as a means to check in on customers and gauge satisfaction.
Crisis management. A crisis management plan helps you prepare for and manage a business disruption of any kind. Although ideally done before a crisis occurs, setting out a plan helps you navigate uncertain times and devise a strategy for moving forward.
Typically a component of public relations, crisis management is something an experienced digital agency can help you create and execute.
Crisis Management Gets You Back on Track
For businesses, crisis comes in all forms:
- Corporate — business- and brand-related issues involving customers, reputation, and public perception
- Technological — software crashes, infrastructure damage, security breaches, or hacking incidents
- Financial — loss of demand, debt, stock drop, and other issues involving the company’s value
- Cultural/personnel — unethical or illegal employee activity, moral dilemmas, and workplace misconduct
- Natural — inclimate weather, storms, natural crises, and yes — even pandemics
Having a crisis management plan helps you navigate any dilemma that could affect your business. Developing a crisis management plan with a qualified marketing agency entails identifying:
- Which types of crises your business is susceptible to
Is your business in an industry that makes it more or less susceptible to a certain type of crisis? Are there crises specific to your business that may not be fully defined above?
- What impact each crisis could have on your company
If the crisis should occur, how would your company be impacted? Physically (building and infrastructure)? Financially (revenue, assets, stock)? Culturally (personnel, morale, values)? All of the above?
- What steps you would take to resolve each crisis
What actions would help you resolve the crisis? How will you continue functioning until a resolution is reached? In times like the current pandemic, would you remain open (digitally) or shut your doors?
- Who (both internally and externally) would be involved in managing the crisis
Who will be on your crisis management team? What role will each person play? Are the appropriate teams/departments represented?
- What resolving the issue will entail
How long will it realistically take for the crisis to resolve? What will your company/operations look like afterward? How can you prevent it from happening in the future?
From there, assemble your teams and train them to be ready. And most of all, don’t let your crisis management strategy become stale or outdated. Consider how fluctuating employee numbers, changes in societal culture, updated product offerings, shifting economic times, and the progression of time in general will affect your plans, and update accordingly.
We’re Right There With You
Like you, we at Mabbly have been navigating the waters of working remotely. We’re a collaborative bunch, so we’re used to brainstorming, whiteboarding, and collaborating — but usually in-person, where we can gauge each other’s body language and build on each others’ energy. To help maintain our natural flow of operations (as much as possible), we’ve been diligent about:
- Setting up meetings over video conferencing to invite camaraderie and capture facial cues
- Meeting as a company (digitally) twice per week to combat siloed information and keep our values top-of-mind
- Using a workplace chat tool for faster answers and higher productivity
- Cutting each other some slack in juggling both work and home life amid state shut-downs and risk of illness
As a Chicago digital agency, we’ve been practicing shelter-in-pace restrictions for quite some time. And since our home is the nation’s third largest city, many of these restrictions have felt amplified, so as to quell the spread of the virus in such close quarters. Amid this high-stress environment, we’ve had to practice patience, like all Americans. Realizing that we’re all human and that our health is the highest priority, cutting our co-workers some slack has been a beneficial practice for business, emotional, and mental stability.
If you’re worried about the future of your business or you’re unsure where to go from here, we get it. Mabbly has developed crisis management plans for a number of top brands, and we’re experienced at helping companies find digital and strategic success. We can help you stay open online and invite higher search traffic with services for digital visibility, SEO, social listening, growth strategy, and more. When you’re ready, shoot us a note — we’ll be here.