Business as usual? Not so much.
Since COVID-19 became a global pandemic, a lot has changed, including how we market our products and businesses. If it feels like the world of business is more compressed and the future is outpacing what you’ve prepared for, you’re not alone.
So, what can you do? Start by replacing rumination and panic with flexible and innovative thinking. And be prepared to move quickly yet thoughtfully. While unsettling times might prompt you to dial back on marketing efforts, your clients need to hear from you now more than ever.
Indeed, with a calm and measured approach, you’re better able to chart a successful marketing course through the current crisis and beyond. To help you get going and keep afloat, here are five quick tips from industry insider PARC Retirement Living. With two decades’ experience in the senior living segment, PARC can also point to specific examples of marketing innovation during this global pandemic.
1) Be flexible.
Be adaptable to change and think hyper-creatively, beyond your normal ideation threshold. Thinking way outside the box might not feel comfortable, but it’s important to be open to a variety of communication and problem-solving methods previously not tried or on the radar. In fact, your teams’ ideas may seem outlandish, but they could also hold that magic solution to bring business back. Determine your top customers’ immediate needs, then prioritize and brainstorm solutions. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to come up with ways to ease their apprehensions.
Problem: Early COVID-19 restrictions meant that non-essential visitors couldn’t enter PARC’s senior living buildings, causing anxiety among PARC residents, their families and friends.
Solution: PARC converted construction trailers into PARC Family Meetup Centres so seniors and visitors could connect face to face without touching and spreading potential virus molecules. Located outside each residence, these pod-like units are equipped with plexiglass shields, air filters, separate entrances and separate washrooms. Hugely popular, the centres went on to garner significant media attention at local outlets like CBC, CTV and Vancouver is Awesome. Which in turn enhanced PARC’s brand and boosted both digital and non-digital customer response.
2) Over-communicate with your customers.
And don’t stop communicating. Keep the messaging clear, simple and transparent, and be ready for the hard questions. Stay on top of customer tracking via online analytics or pulse surveys so you know which channels and methods they’re responding to.
Problem: Families wanted to know more about what was happening with their loved ones at PARC during the first few months of lockdown to alleviate their worry and anxiety.
Solution: PARC launched a private family Facebook page paired with a knowledgeable administrator who promptly answers families’ questions. Weekly e-newsletters were also sent to family email addresses detailing resident safety and health. Pleased and reassured, families then spread the word. This further heightened PARC’s positive positioning in the eyes of potential customers considering a move to PARC Retirement Living.
3) Re-strategize marketing budgets.
Zero in on clients’ key needs so you can focus marketing dollars more effectively and control how your budget is spent. Forget what you did before and pivot— redirect marketing to get the best ROI. Make sure your management teams are ready for any marketing and sales changes.
Problem: Marketing was needed to motivate prospective clients to consider retirement residence living during a pandemic. A tough task, considering negative publicity for other types of senior living, but not impossible.
Solution: Build a roadmap to align marketing budgets with the concerns of prospective clients. PARC created a flexible four-stage multichannel campaign plan that included both digital and non-digital content. With a focus on promoting why moving into a retirement residence is the smartest choice during a pandemic and differentiate the brand from long term care. The marketing plan was communicated to all sales teams and key executives so they were able to react. Further to that, PARC trained its general managers to be public relations spokespersons so they were ready for any fallback or chances to put PARC’s best practices forward. Most importantly, PARC jumped out in front to be a first mover using positive messaging during COVD-19.
4) Keep creating online content.
Keep your social media strong and connected. Increase your frequency of posts, blogs and website content as much as possible without breaching the balance of annoyance. Measure your social reach weekly and repurpose the most highly rated items by making minor changes and rewriting headlines. Not everyone sees your social content first time around.
5) Don’t decrease your marketing budget.
In fact, if you can, increase it. As noted at the top of this article, your clients need to hear from you now more than ever.
As the old adage goes, “Every crisis provides an opportunity.”
See other examples of PARC navigating COVID-19 by visiting the PARC blog.