As we all know, the Center for Disease Control is monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. From social distancing to the closures of restaurants and businesses, things are changing at a rapid pace. As a multi-location business, it’s your responsibility to keep your consumers informed during this time of crisis. Throughout this blog, we’ll take you through the top tips for marketing throughout COVID-19, and help your business navigate this unknown territory. 

Don’t Be Tone-Deaf

Ensuring that your multi-location business doesn’t come across as tone-deaf during this pandemic is critical. Right now, there is no “business as usual.” Everyone is on edge, so your traditional or planned marketing strategies may come across as insensitive or misinformed. It’s better to save those plans for later, and focus on what is relevant to your consumers right now. Are people worried about social distancing, or how to stay busy while quarantined? Conversations around these topics will help consumers feel more connected to your business. 

A SOCi customer, Anytime Fitness, is updating their patrons about their business plans through COVID-19 and how consumers can use their app to stay informed about any potential closures.

 

It’s also important to problem-solve during this time period. If you’re able to problem-solve for your consumers today, you will earn their trust for the future. For instance, if your multi-location business is a grocery store, can you offer any assistance to the elderly? If you’re in the home-services industry, is there an opportunity for you to offer free cleaning services to at-risk groups? While this isn’t necessary, if your business does feel called to problem solve during this time of need, you will definitely be remembered for it.

Big Y Foods, another SOCi customer, announces its updated store hours to consumers and plans to keep their business sanitized and stocked.

 

Communicate with Consumers

In addition to not being tone-deaf, your multi-location business should also be keeping your consumers informed. If your business does have to close its doors or modify its hours, be sure that your consumers are aware of this change. The last thing you want to do is create more confusion for your consumers right now. 

World Gym – Brewster, another SOCi customer, connects with clients who are exhibiting social distancing and provides free online workout classes.

 

Sending email communications, posting on social media, and maintaining reputation management are key to engaging with your consumers at this time. Any sense of comfort you can provide can make a huge difference. Consider posting about the following: 

  • Let your consumers know what steps your business has taken to protect them from exposure to the virus, refer to CDC tips and resources.
  • Provide consumers with ideas on how they can spend their time at home. Posts on social distancing, must-read books, puzzles, etc. will be much appreciated.
  • Communicate how you’ll be handling business moving forward.
  • Develop messaging that assures consumers that your business has done all it can to ensure consistent delivery of products and services they need and expect. 
  • Pay attention to the engagements you’re receiving on your content, responding quickly is vital.

SOCi’s customer, Brain Balance Centers, is providing consumers tips on how to communicate with children about COVID-19, while also sharing content for what to do during this social distancing era by providing exercises for both children and adults

 

Create a Co-Op 

At SOCi, we also acknowledge that your multi-location business is also reeling from this global pandemic. Whether you’ve already had to cancel an event, cut your working hours, or temporarily close your locations, we know how tough this is for your business too. It’s important to remember that other businesses are going through the same things. Now is a better time than ever to reach out to other local businesses and create a co-op. Get connected and see what you can do together to help the community and support each other. 

Once you have created a co-op with local businesses, you can begin online conversations with consumers. You can ask them what they need during this tough period of time, and also explain to them the struggles that local businesses are facing. Again, if you are open and honest with your consumers, they will trust your business more. 

Lead with Empathy

As human beings, we all know the impact that COVID-19 is having on people around the world. While you still want to be able to connect with your target audience, it’s important to keep empathy at the top of mind. Show that your brand or company is empathetic, not because it’s a strategy, but because it’s a core value. If consumers know that you genuinely care about their well-being, they will develop trust and loyalty to your business. If you are there during a time of need, consumers will remember your business later down the road. Being empathetic and understanding should be one of the top takeaways from both this blog and in general during this time of crisis.

Putting an emphasis on empathy, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, shares its commitment to providing customers healthcare and wellness support during this difficult time.

 

 

Now that you have some suggestions that you can use to continue your effective communications with your consumers, it’s time to get started. If you have any questions about how you should be implementing your new localized marketing strategy during this time period, SOCi is here to help! As a leader in this space, we feel a responsibility to help any franchise or multi-location brand do everything it can do to keep up the local economy. Reach out with any questions to help@meetsoci.com, and we will be happy to assist you. You don’t need to be a customer, and you don’t need to pay us anything. We’re all in this together!

 

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