In these confusing times, some days, the world can feel upside down, especially regarding business and the economy. Across industries, companies have begun to pivot their business models to either redirect services to support, assist, or address the immediate needs of their community or those they serve in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of our clients have successfully modified their primary services to maintain operations:
- Nonprofit: Local animal welfare organization IndyHumane has always had a robust foster care program. With the increase in isolation and the potential for feelings of loneliness due to mandated quarantine, IndyHumane sent out a call for Hoosiers to consider fostering shelter animals while they are home. Before quarantine in mid-March, IndyHumane had a respectable 120 foster families - after just 3 weeks of quarantine, the program now consists of a thriving network of 400+ foster families! The shelter is deemed an essential service so adoptions are able to continue as well, just now by appointment only and scheduled meet ups with the adoptable animal.
- Healthcare: Medical and healthcare support has never been more pivotal. As the coronavirus wiped out jobs and caused thousands of layoffs, Senior1Care’s needs actually increased, creating a sense of urgency to update their Legacy CNA program, which trains PCA caregivers for the company’s senior clients. The program, which would usually take three weeks to complete for CNA certification, has added PCA training, which takes just a day and a half. This increased process has seen a surge of hundreds of new applicants. Their critical support services of helping seniors through in-home care have proven to be important than ever to those in need of a job and those who need care for their loved ones.
- Arts: Parents everywhere have a new level of appreciation for their children’s teachers! To help keep students occupied, Civic Theatre recently rolled out a “Jr. Civic Online” virtual program in which kids can take classes in improv, dance, musical theatre and acting to keep their creative imaginations and artistic skills developing.
No matter your industry, there are several essential (and easy) means of communicating your creative solutions to maintain your customer or client base, many of which can come to fruition through marketing. Here are some of our tips:
How has your business changed? Provide insight to your followers on social media and email subscribers about how the business has pivoted to be completely virtual. If you're considered an essential service business, be sure to emphasize that you are open and actively operational as often as possible.
Change your social media strategy.
If you’re a retailer or restaurant, one of the smartest things you can do right now is push gift cards. Focus your social media efforts on promoting your gift card offerings, talking about the history of your business, thank the essential service people are still working in public each day, etc. If you have an online retail store, direct customers and fans to that instead. Make them aware you are open for business online! It's also smart (and a gesture of goodwill) to show support for other businesses around your brick and mortar store by tagging them in social media posts - they'll likely do the same for you. If you're able, give a discount (or free product/services) to hospital and medical workers.
Pitch your story to local media.
Reporters are constantly working to uncover the impact of the pandemic from a local perspective. If your company has been able to support or help in some way (especially local), share that story. If your bottom line has been deeply impacted, share that too. Media is looking for authenticity and human connection.
Pivot your use of collateral.
If you are a company with resources that could prove valuable to addressing a local need during the pandemic, start communicating it to the public and put an action plan together. Your community support will deepen their affinity for your company and has the potential to establish new customer relationships or further brand loyalty.
Use your email lists.
One of the easiest ways to communicate with your customers is through email. Virtual activity has spiked dramatically the last several weeks, so why not take advantage of that captive audience who is constantly checking their email 10+ times a day?
Call to donors.
If you are a non-profit, now is not the time to take a backseat. In an authentic way, explain to donors how their support can make a difference to your organization during these challenging times. People are ready to help, they just need to know how to do so.
Advance your website.
Websites are arguably one of the most valuable assets for marketing your brand. While people are spending more time communicating through the web, now is the time to make your website more of a resource for your customer than ever before. It may make sense to implement an online store, develop new methods for customers to communicate with you, or provide featured content that highlights the products or services people will be needing most during this time.
Consider future web initiatives.
Oftentimes marketers hope a website update is something that can be setup in a number of days or weeks, but if you are developing an entire site refresh, the process can take longer than you may think. A proper website requires content strategy and development, organizational planning, designing for desktop and mobile browsers, programming and then testing. That means marketing initiatives sometimes have to wait months while your website is being finalized. Now's the time to determine new web strategies and start the process of implementing them so that you can be ahead of the competition when markets open up. We also want to say a huge “thank you” to the hardworking, selfless, incredible people who are part of essential services (medical professionals on the front lines, grocery store workers, city employees, transportation drivers, and more). You are the true heroes during this epidemic. Thank you for taking care of others and for keeping us safe.