Written by Courtney Morey

The Corona Virus is causing panic everywhere, with businesses and consumers. Businesses are being forced to shut down and people are being quarantined because of infection and precaution.

With uncertainty comes discomfort and sometimes hysteria. People are hunkering down in the safety of their homes and retreating from their maybe infected work-places. But just because people are disappearing from the outside world, it doesn’t mean that their needs disappear with them.

This is where businesses will either thrive or die. People are retracting into their shells, the way that they order, buy, and consume things will change due to this crisis and businesses are going to have to change the way they market and sell things too.

Here are some tips from Seedling’s Jason Zagami in response to the Corona pandemic.

 

Be Prepared to Adapt to Change

If you read Seedling’s blog about the OODA Loop, then you are already familiar with what we’re about to tell you.

Change is inevitable and in this case, with the Coronavirus (or any other epidemic that impedes people from going outside) businesses are losing money because they are waiting for people to come to them, instead of being proactive by assessing the situation and making a swift change. Jason believes that if the people won’t come to you, then you need to pivot your strategy as a business and bring your product to the people.

For example, Jason works with a menswear company, and in-store sales have slowed because of this pandemic. So this menswear business pivots and decides to conveniently visit peoples’ homes with a bottle of wine while also tailoring the customer’s suits. Additionally, before they leave, the business will clean out their customers’ closets to then donate the unwanted clothes to charity. 

Helping their customer's and their community! A Win-Win!

 

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Go Virtual

Jason says that during a time when businesses are shutting down and people are staying home now is the time to beef up your budget for Digital Marketing,

“It’s all about virtualization and delivery. With our clients, we’re figuring out the best way to virtualize what they do - if we can, virtualize their content, or create places for people to go.”

For example, Seedling’s Growth Academy holds group lessons and discussions every Tuesday and Thursday to build a strong community within the small business culture. It brings new ideas to the table, builds community, and provides a sense of security among like-minded people in a time of uneasiness.

Companies like YouTube, Amazon, and PlayStation aren’t only going to thrive during this change of consumer habits, they are going to thrive because they are entirely virtual and there is no risk at all to do business with them. These companies are going to capitalize on this situation by making their consumer’s lives easier, and you should too!

If you are a company that holds events, continue to have those events, but host them online! People are going to be contracting Cabin Fever, even if they steer clear of the Coronavirus and they’ll be happy to be included and given the option to stay social.

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Be Caring and Be Helpful

It’s easy for people to be negative during this time, but this just means that there are more opportunities to attract and delight.

We say this a lot because it’s true: consumers want to feel like you have their best interests in mind. They want to know that you care. People favor businesses that show that they care about their customers.

Campbell's Soup is a perfect example of this. When someone posted online that their office was freezing, Campbell’s sent over some soup that they could heat up and eat at work. This random act of kindness made a Campbell's customer for life, while also gaining good publicity when the person posted about their free soup!

 

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Don’t be Disingenuous or Self-Serving

If people sense that you’re being kind to make more money then they will actively reject your business.

For example, during Hurricane Katrina, many businesses would offer to give 10% value of the item purchased to support the people in Haiti. Jason says,

“You never want to leverage someone’s pain and suffering. People are uncertain about what the future holds and they are holding onto a lot of angst.”

This goes for price-gouging as well. You may be tempted to inflate your prices during this time of panic - cost and demand, am I right? WRONG! You need to create trust and value with your customers during their time of need.

Jason reiterates,

“They may buy your product now, but they’ll hate you for it later. If you can find a way to get something that people need to them faster and at a better price than the competition, you will be phenomenal.”

 

Don’t Try to be Edgy or Funny During a Tragedy

You could be successful at making light of a terrible situation, or you could be deemed a monster and get stonewalled from all current and future customers.

Jason recounts a story about a mid-western mattress company that had a sale on the 10th anniversary of 9/11,

“They stacked two sets of mattresses next to each other and pushed them over to resemble the twin towers. People sometimes mess up trying to be edgy or funny during a tragedy and you don’t ever want to do that.”

You don’t want to come off as insensitive or uncaring when you’re advertising. There is a line that you need to walk when it comes to selling during a crisis.

 

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Be Prepared

The best thing that you can do in a time like this is to adjust and put a plan in place for when it happens again. Jason offers one last piece of advice,

“History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes. You’re going to see this again. Why not prepare yourself now? Things may go back to normal, but if you force yourself to innovate, then you’re going to be that much stronger going forward anyway because you’ll be protected.”

If you need help with goal setting, download our OKR template to be prepared for the next shake-up in the industry.

 

View Seedling's OKR Template