How to Market Your Business With Integrity During the Coronavirus Epidemic

How to Market Your Business with Integrity During the Coronavirus Pandemic

(with action steps to help connect you with your audience)

It’s our worst nightmare.

A global pandemic that’s affecting so may lives around the world.

The Coronavirus has left so many families are separated, distraught, and fearful of what’s to come. With supplies running low and uncertainty about job security, it’s safe to say that your audience (including you) is probably filled with anxiety and internal panic.

So how do you as a business owner or blogger survive this?

Do you quit?

Do you throw in the towel?

Is it even fair to think of business survival when so many people are struggling?

First and foremost, if you are feeling heavily stressful because of this pandemic, it’s okay to pause.

Take a break, take a breather and be with your family. There’s no shame in doing that, as what’s most important is your mental state and wellbeing of your loved ones.

At the end of the day, THAT MATTERS MOST.

If you are hell bent on remaining consistent with your blog or business during this time like me, the key to coming out the other side guilt-free and proud of your business is to market your business with integrity.

Eeesh… "market.”

Should I even be “marketing” anything right now?

Is it right?

I feel like I should give something for free, no?

Here’s the thing:

Marketing does not mean that you have to sell or pitch anything if you don’t want to.

Marketing does not even mean that you have to hurry up and find a product to sell before your customers stop having the urge to buy.

This is operating out of fear and not as a leader showing empathy for the struggles your audience currently faces.

There are ways to market your personal brand, business, or blog without exploiting your audience’s situation while also positioning yourself so that you remain an authority in your niche and CARE about potential customers or clients.

THERE'S ALSO NO SHAME IN SELLING. *repeat until you believe it*

If your business is your primary source of income, if the more traffic you get to your site brings in more money for your family, you have every right to do what you can to sustain it.

But there is a way that you can market your personal brand during the Coronavirus pandemic without taking advantage of potential clients and customers.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing your Business with Integrity:

DON'T:

Exploit your audience’s situation.

People are fearful. Your audience is in a huge place of uncertainty right now with determining what to eat, what to do with their kids, how to see their loved ones and simply how to survive. The worst thing you can do as a personal brand is be so self consumed with making money that you begin to exploit their situation. Irrelevantly raising prices, using scare tactics and false urgency only presents your brand as desperate and tacky.

This is not entrepreneurship. This is sleazy and slimy selling.

Do not exploit the Coronavirus pandemic to make a quick dollar.

DO:

Know your brand’s mission and values.

This is one of the most important aspects of self-awareness your brand needs to know, RIGHT NOW.

Have you outlined exactly what you stand for, what you believe in, and have you identified a clear mission for your personal brand?

In the midst of a crisis, your brand needs standards, beliefs and values to not only hold yourself accountable, but so that your audience knows what to expect from you and how they will be treated.

This is the foundational start to being remembered and remain at the forefront of your audience's mind during this time.

Action step: Write a clear mission statement that outlines your brand's beliefs, values and how you see your business helping others. Or review your current one. Share your mission statement with your audience on social media.

DON'T:

Think solely about yourself.

If your business is taking a rough turn during the Coronavirus situation, it’s a hardship that you probably wouldn’t wish on your worst competition.

It’s okay to feel anxiety about the sustainability and survivability of your business. As you figure your way around this, don’t completely forget about your tribe.

These are the people who have followed you, paid money to hear from your, invested in your courses, bought your products, and many of them are raving fans.

They may be struggling too, and you have a unique opportunity to share your brand story in a way that strengthens the bond between your brand and your audience.

DO:

Acknowledge that you genuinely care about what your audience is going through.

Empathy goes a long way.

In a world where customers are being spammed left and right and exploited, with brands only caring about their bottom line, be the brand that acknowledges their struggles and acknowledges the sensitive fact that they have to make a decision between buying toilet paper and buying your product or service.

This small acknowledgement through an email newsletter, a social media posts or even a call to your clients, goes a long way.

It reminds them that you’re not simply about the $$$ and recognize their current struggle, even if it is a pain point that your products or services may not be able to solve at this time. Show that you CARE.

Action step: Write a short, meaningful social media post, acknowledging the care you have for your audience at this time.

(Photo from the Pixistock photo + graphics membership)

DON'T:

Quit.

Taking a break is fine.

Giving yourself some space to figure out how you and your family will manage this new reality for the next few months is fine.

But by all means, don’t quit.

If you’re in the real estate, hospitality, or event planning business, this is a time of grave uncertainty.

But try your hardest not to use the Coronavirus situation as an opportunity to throw in the towel.

Post less? Yes.

Regroup? Yes.

Research and find ways to cope? Absolutely.

But don’t let COVID-19 bury the business you worked so hard to build.

Don’t let this stop you from communicating and connecting with your audience.

DO:

Continue to connect with and relate to your audience.

Remember, marketing doesn’t always mean you have to sell something.

Both you and your audience are going through a shared experience.

Use that shared experience to make the connection strong, especially if you have qualms about selling your products or services.

Remain at the front of your audience’s mind during a crisis by providing free value. Maybe right now you don’t feel like being creative, or starting a new project - that’s OKAY. Definitely give yourself permission to take a break.

Alter your posting schedule or posting frequency and give yourself space for things.

After regrouping, and when you’re ready to connect back with your audience, however your choose, be consistent.

As we are socially distant offline, social media and the internet afford us the opportunity to still connect online. Continue to connect and relate with your audience by providing deep, genuine and loving content that comes from the heart.

Are you an entertainer? Your audience needs that now.

Are you a storyteller? Share your personal experiences as well as others'.

Are you an educator? Share valuable resources to help your audience through this.

Are you a creator? Create content or projects that make life bearable.

Show off your brand personality and use humor and wit to bring light to an otherwise gloomy situation.

Your audience is looking for ways to keep their spirits up, so use your unique gifts and talents to share the things you love. This will not only allow you to be memorable, but also humanize your brand.

Action step: What can you share apart from your products or services that foster connection and relatability with your audience? List some unconventional ways you can share love with the world.

DON'T:

Assume you know what your audience wants right now.

Positioning yourself as a brand who cares about the wellbeing of its customers, is a simple way to ensure you are remembered when this thing is all over.

But that also doesn’t mean assuming that all they want right now is toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Being isolated means that your audience could also need things like:

  1. Education on what to do/what not to do
  2. Strategies on alternative forms of income
  3. Comprehensive products with more value
  4. Ideas for future planning
  5. Things to do with their kids and at home activities
  6. How to turn their current situation around for the better

DO:

Ask your audience what they need from you.

Based on your expertise and your talent, you still have something to offer your audience.

Just because you cannot go outside, to your brick and mortar store, or attend that event doesn’t mean that all hope is lost.

Your audience needed you before this crisis, and they need you now.

The key is to find out what that is so you don’t market the wrong products or create content that provides little to no value.

Action step: Send a quick email out to your audience or post on social media: “If I were to create [X], would that be something that interests you right now?” Or “How can I (or me and my team) help you during this time?" "What can we help you overcome?"

DON'T:

Advertise and market every single product or service you offer.

In order to have some ounce of success during the Coronavirus situation, you need to be strategic about how you will market your products and services if you choose to.

Don’t pull out every offer and product and blast an email to your list in a fear frenzy because you’re afraid you won’t make any money for the next 5 months.

That’s the quickest way for your subscriber counts to drop.

If you do not feel that you should lower your prices on certain products or services, don’t do the short-sighted thing and promote it all.

Choose a relevant product to promote, or create one, that genuinely aids your audience, educates them and helps them during this time.

If you don’t think you have a product that can do that - refer back to DO number 3: Create content that connects. And don’t underestimate the power of free content.

When this is all over (and it will be) you will come out strong, with more authority, because your focus was to strengthen your audience/brand connection.

Also, in your marketing messaging, avoid overselling with capital letters and multiple exclamation marks.

Example: Buy this NOW!!!!! TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!

Sentences like these put psychological pressure on your audience that not only appears insensitive and scammy, but you’ll lose credibility.

DO:

Alter your guarantees and product offerings (tactfully) so your audience feels secure investing with you.

Free trials, freemium  and money-back guarantees are a much needed safety net for your audience when there is fear and uncertainty. 

Before the Coronavirus situation, maybe they were interested in your products or services, but now they are hesitant to invest or buy because of the global crisis. Don’t let the fear of not making any money keep you from innovating and altering your products or services to meet your audience where they are.

Instead, extend that virtual hand so they always remember that you went the extra mile for them at a crucial time.

If your business does not offer money-back guarantees on specific products, consider temporarily adding one.

If you have a membership, consider implementing a free trial.

If there’s a product that normally is sold on its own, bundle it with others to increase its value.

Alter your terms to help those who see your value cope with the current situation.

You’ll want to do this tactfully. Giving away your products and services for free will hurt your business in the long run and not stimulate the economy.

The goal is to give your audience the security they need to take the next step with you at a time where they are deciding where to spend.

If you are marketing with integrity by genuinely caring for your audience and helping them rather than exploiting them, your business has an opportunity to sustain itself during this time.

Will sales be slow? For some industries yes, for others not entirely.

But remember, during a crisis, the value of your brand isn’t just in the amount of money you make.

The value lies in your beliefs and standards and how you continue to connect with your audience, showing them that you care during a sensitive time.

Action step: List some of your most valuable products and services. How can you alter any of them to give your audience security? How can you change the offer or provide a guarantee to urge them to take a chance on your brand during this time? Is there anything free you can create to grow your audience as a lead magnet for future potential sales?

(Photo from the Pixistock photo + graphics membership)

Marketing with integrity starts with knowing your brand values. If you have good brand values, as you promote any content (free or paid), it will become clear to your audience that its coming from the heart - from a place of genuinely caring about where they currently are and how you can help solve their problems.

You don’t always have to sell.

You don’t always have to promote.

If you want your business to survive this, you must continue to provide VALUE - in your brands unique way, with your brand’s unique personality.

With what you have, right where you are.

Give hope, provide value, educate, and give love so that when the crisis is over your audience will not have forgotten about you and they come flocking back to your brand.

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