Selling During a Pandemic Could Sell Yourself Short

Jeff Pelliccio

Director of Marketing, Infinity Consulting Solutions

Jeff Pelliccio serves as the Director of Marketing for Infinity Consulting Solutions, a leading talent resourcing provider for Technology, Accounting & Finance, Legal & Compliance, and Corporate Support. Jeff plays an integral role in supporting the corporate vision and leading the marketing department to advance and evolve the digital marketing strategy, customer engagement, lead and demand generation, marketing automation, and sales and marketing alignment. Jeff has been published as a thought leader, has been in the staffing industry since 2014, and has over 17 years of business development experience making him an expert in his role.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, staying relevant has been a priority for companies everywhere. It is understandable that selling products and services play a key role in every company year-round. However, during challenging times, a business’ marketing and sales efforts to stay relevant can have a crucial impact on its reputation. 

Now more than ever, you must be mindful of the messages you craft for the public, carefully assessing every detail that goes into creating company assets. While your products and services may help create value for customers given the world’s current landscape, selling during a pandemic has to be thoughtfully and tastefully done — or else, you will be prone to selling yourself short.   

Sure, you are committed to delivering content and products to your customers, but keep in mind to position your messaging in a way that is respectful and considerate of the current climate. Doing the opposite can make you come across as desperate and insensitive, which will only harm your business’ reputation in the long run. 

As your company stays open for business during these trying times, here are a few ways to ensure that you stay relevant without tarnishing your brand’s image. 

Consider your audience

When creating company assets, the first thing you should do is assess your audience. Take a close look at your audience and take their current status, concerns, and needs into account. This will help you in actually creating value for customers.

To help with your business’ efforts on reconnecting during COVID-19, let’s take a closer look at  just a few audiences across industries:

  • Restaurant and Retail. These are two industries that have been hit particularly hard amid the global pandemic. While some businesses within these industries have been able to shift their strategy toward meeting online and delivery needs, others have not been so lucky. In fact, many employees in these fields have been furloughed as a result of decreased demand.
  • Healthcare. Hospitals and urgent care facilities have experienced increased demand amid the pandemic, which has pushed these organizations to levels they may not have been prepared to endure. Essential workers are in short supply, which is why the healthcare industry is now experiencing a massive demand for workers. Private practices and non-essential care facilities, on the other hand, have experienced layoffs and closures during COVID-19.   
  • Accounting and Finance. The banking industry is currently hard at work, meeting demands from the government’s efforts to provide forgivable small business administration (SBA) loans to companies amid COVID-19. Underwriting, processing, and funding these loans has created a volume of demand that the banking industry’s infrastructure was not prepared to undertake. As a result, the back office most likely has a spike in hiring and remotely managing employees
  • Information Technology (IT). The business needs for IT vary across companies. Because many IT workers have the opportunity to work remotely, there is still potential for working and hiring in this field despite the crisis. 
  • Light Industrial. Workers in this field have been considered essential workers and have luckily been able to maintain physical distancing through their work amid the pandemic. Logistics personnel in this group have the essential role of ensuring that the public is still able to get what they need.

The above are only a few instances of how audiences can be clustered. The key is to closely assess your audience and take their current status into consideration. This will help you in actually creating value for customers. Doing so will also give your business a great starting point for creating content that meets their needs and addresses their concerns.

Focus on reconnecting during COVID-19

When it comes to reconnecting with your audience during COVID-19, you should focus more on collaboration rather than aspiration. In other words, now is not necessarily the time to focus a lot on selling. Pushing people to the bottom of the funnel too quickly can have a negative impact and drive your audience away. 

In today’s climate, it’s essential to center your business’ messaging around supporting your audience and their needs. For example, when it comes to staffing, you should focus on your audiences by crafting separate messaging for hiring managers and candidates. Let’s take a closer look at the case of candidates for instance. Today’s candidates are choosier than they were in the past, and they are keener on their range of options. In fact, this is one of the top reasons why candidates reject job offers. The key to keeping candidates motivated and engaged is to create messaging that is informative, supportive, and personalized.

When marketers create this type of messaging for clients, candidates, and other stakeholders, they should be sure to make their communications look as authentic as possible. One way to do so is to stay away from HTML newsletter-type emails and instead, stick to a simple, yet personalized format that makes each recipient believe the email was written specifically for them.

Creating company assets, like blogs, can be a big help in staying relevant during COVID-19

Creating company assets, such as blog articles, is another great way to reconnect with your audience. You may want to give some thought to new content ideation, however, because the content you previously produced may not resonate with your audience in today’s climate. 

During a global pandemic like COVID-19 that has affected a significant number of communities, you should strongly consider adjusting your editorial calendar to meet the current needs of your audience. Doing so will let your audience know that you are aligned with them and are extremely considerate of their thoughts and sensitivities.

Staying relevant during COVID-19 also means staying relevant on social media

Your brand’s social media persona becomes especially important during a time of crisis. As a result, being silly or edgy on social media during these times can really harm your business by making you come across as insensitive and unprofessional. 

One key social media strategy is to shift your messaging to meet the needs of your audience. You can do this by leveraging your company’s assets and aligning context and messaging from within that framework. Posting your blog articles, for example, can lead to productive conversations and engagement from your audience, which will, in turn, lead to conversion.   

Work on creating value for customers through promotional advertising

Creating value for customers during a time of crisis is essential. In times like these, customers are not only looking for financial relief, but they are also looking for companies that align most with their needs and perspectives.

Promotional advertising is one way for you to show others that your company cares and is there for customers, even in the worst times. Yes, promotional advertising can be beneficial in a financial sense, but now more than ever, this kind of advertising must be relevant in addressing the concerns of your audience. After all, the impact you leave on your customers during trying times will follow you in the years to come. 

Take the following steps to put in the effort to make your promotional advertising meaningful and relevant:

  • Make sure your offer aligns with the needs or pain points of customers. Now more than ever, you want to ensure your business is meeting your customers’ needs while addressing their valid concerns — anything outside of this may fall short. 
  • In addition to supporting your customers’ needs, you will want to show that your company is committed to moving the world forward by supporting society’s overall needs, such as environmental needs. This will also help you ensure that your promotion is meaningful and beneficial for the public.
  • Fooling and scamming consumers are never acceptable, much less at a time like now when everyone is facing some sort of hardship. Put some extra thought into your verbiage to ensure that your promotional advertising messaging is clear and concise — not manipulative. 
  • Use your promotion to encourage audience-wide participation. Asking your customers to participate can really help boost spirits and engagement.  
  • Make it simple for customers to participate by including simple and risk-free rules of engagement. A long list of rules and regulations may make customers think twice before participating.  

Once you’ve crafted a promotion, ask for feedback. Use that feedback to build out your promotion further to ensure that it is thoughtful and deliberate.

When you have solidified your promotional advertising plan, go over it once more to ensure that your messaging aligns with the offer at hand. Ensure that everything is clear, concise, and easy for customers to interpret right off the bat. 

Answer the question: Is it a press release or promotional advertisement?

After you’ve solidified your company’s promotional advertisement and ensured that it is appropriate to run during a time of crisis, you’ll want to start a campaign around it, which may include communications, such as a press release (PR). Be careful, however, because if your message is not as clear and concise as it should be, it will not resonate well with journalists and may not get any PR traction. 

When it comes to press releases, journalists are looking for stories about the extraordinary things people are doing outside of promotional advertising. As a result, the more complicated your company’s promotional details become, the less likely it is to be picked by journalists as a press release. A publishing house may let you promote your ad among their audience as a paid promotional advertisement, but more than likely, they will not give you any airtime for free. 

How will your business be remembered post-COVID?

As we move through these uncertain times, everyone is struggling and coping with the “new normal” in their own ways. While we try to figure out how to navigate the landscape of a global pandemic, it’s critical for businesses to do their best to align and collaborate with their employees and audiences to help them move forward successfully. 

Although it may be intense, you must remind yourself from time to time that this global pandemic will pass. The question is, how will you be remembered when it is over? Will you be seen as an opportunistic organization or a caring company that looks out for their community? For the sake of your business, you should aim for the latter.