Marketing Beauty in a Crisis

It’s no secret we’re in trying times and uncharted waters. And businesses just like yours are trying to figure out how to survive.

There are only a few people alive today that went through the Flu Pandemic of 1918. That’s 102 years ago. We here in Oregon, had only had statehood for 59 years.

That pandemic killed between 20 and 50 million people globally.  Infection control practices were probably a big contributing factor.

The good news is medicine, infection control, and communication systems have come a long ways. The first antiviral drug was only developed 57 years ago.

Drugs are already being researched for the coronavirus as are other therapies to help treat those who have it.

It won’t be fun, but we’ll make it and learn on the way.

We need to take time for our families first, (remember in the plane you put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.)

If you have staff, hopefully you’ve already made the contingency plans for them and had them file for temporary unemployment.

Then you can think of messages to share with customers.

Before you send messages out, regroup and rethink your marketing strategies. 

We need to show care, concern and be aware of sensitivities.

Here’s what not to do…

Did you see the post from Spirit Airlines? In early March Spirit Airlines sent a promotional email with the subject line, “The perfect time to treat yourself? Right this minute,” the email went on…”never been a better time to fly.”

Frontier Airlines also sent out a blunder at the same time. “Book with confidence. Increased flexibility! Change/cancel fee waived for bookings through March 31.”

Both emails have hurt the brands reputations despite apologies. These were pre-schedule automatic sends. No one turned them off.

And then there was the company promoting you to buy their luxury pajamas since you had to stay home.

In my opinion companies sending out fear triggering emails to get sales…are sending the wrong message for the times.

Ditto with “coronavirus sales.”

They are the wrong message at the wrong time and they feel very wrong to those who receive them.

We were busy trying to figure out how to get the necessities for survival and sheltering in place.

What we need now is Content Marketing

Content marketing is non-promoting, digital, online. That makes it easily accessible regardless of social distancing.

It can have every attribute people are looking for right now…

Content marketing used to just be blog posts but has expanded to become more a holistic approach. Now it covers your website, blog, email, social media and even paid distribution.

What it’s not?  Highly promotional.  This content is not a sales letter approach. It’s not screaming SALE.

It works in a more subtle, acceptable and approachable way.  It builds bonds, and relationships that keep going during, and after, this current crisis ends.

Content marketing is a highly effective way to stay in touch with your customers. It will attract new customers. And “evergreen” content means it has no season. It’s ongoing. 

In that sense, it’s a smart investment, for now, …and it will last for years. Marketing, like everything else in life, comes with a price…time and or money.

Maybe now is the time to invest time into your business marketing.

Staying in touch with clients and prospects can stay uninterrupted with content marketing. All you need is to make sure you follow proper content marketing strategies.

It might take a little time to figure out your best approach. Take it.

One secret to remember…

Don’t use automated posting right now.  A lot of my clients and marketer friends use programs to control when their posts go out. It’s a set it and forget it approach.

But not for now.

Now is the time to be in the trenches, quick, flexible, in control of what goes out. You have to be sensitive to the timing and make sure it’s still the right message.

You don’t want a boondoggle like those airlines made…

It’s okay to slow down your email sends.  People are being inundated with emails and it’s harder to get seen.

When you do send them, make sure they are content based rather than sales promotions. In my client newsletters we offer 80% content and 20% marketing…after the content. 

But right now…I’m shortening that to maybe 10% marketing message and I keep it a “soft” offer.

Three techniques to focus on using content marketing.

Here are three things to focus on when planning your content marketing regardless of how you deliver it. 

Our businesses depend on meeting people and making sales mostly face to face. 

When a person came in to see me in the clinic, even just to gather information…over 95% of them either purchased something or scheduled a treatment.

Now you need to…take it virtual. Offer educational information about your business on-line.

If you have home care items for any aspect of beauty…get those online so you customers don’t run out and go elsewhere.

Let me interrupt myself with a quick story…

At our local farmer’s market, there is a fellow who has amazing organic specialty mushrooms. Fresh, dried, flaked with leeks for seasoning. 

He has grow-it-yourself mushroom kits.

His Oregon coast maitake mushrooms have the highest levels of antioxidants of anywhere in the world.

I love his mushrooms.

But they don’t offer the market year round. I noticed on his website it was just a brochure…no product sales. I chatted with him about that two years ago. I gave him my card.

Last year I noticed the website looked better and complimented him on it.  He had changed webmasters.

I also asked about when he’d have the products online. “Oh, I’ve got a gal who needs to get that finished up.”

Guess what?  Right. Farmers market is under coronavirus restrictions and he still doesn’t have any of his mushrooms online. None!

I hate to think of the money he has missed over the years. And right now…he could do business as usual.

If you have products…get them online…now!

Build relationships

Share the types of things that will build getting to know you and your team.  Maybe what you’re doing so you can take care of customers and plan for the future.

Think brand awareness.

People need inspiration and to feel you are connected with this crisis.

If you’re doing something special or helping out your community in some way…share that story in a non-promotional way.

Invite them to help in some way.

Let them know you are here for them.

Find ways to go virtual with them. 

Social media may be the best place to be. 

Even Cecilia Gates, CEO of Gates Creative, a creative agency agrees. “It’s time to step back.”  She suggests that social is a better idea than push marketing, and your best way to stay engaged.

Be where they are in a gentle, supportive way. Be genuine.

Inspire

Piccioli, the Italian creative director of Valentino, posted recently on Instagram. There is an image of him at home in Nettuno, Italy, surrounded by his sketch materials. His personal caption reads:


“Home. This country has overcome the toughest moments with pride, creativity and optimism. And so it will, once again. There is a time for moving and a time for staying still.  Even at home our imagination can lead us anywhere. Such a serious situation will not stop us from dreaming. Our will is strong, our duty is to resist and we will keep on dreaming, harder than ever and we will rise stronger than ever.”

I think he handles it beautifully.

Did you notice he doesn’t mention fashion.

He doesn’t mention his company, or even the coronavirus by name.

He doesn’t say what anyone should do during a time none of us really knows how to deal with. 

His message has been liked many thousands more times than his typical posts. Normal posts focus on Valentino designs and events.

Look for how you can boost others through inspiration.  Inspirational memes posted on social media are great.

I love Unsplash as a resource for photos. Then I create posts in Canva.  But there are lots of other programs available…I just use the free version of these.

Educate, inform and entertain

Sometimes just helping people feel good is a big boost for them. 

It might be information on how to use your product to feel better.

It might be a story from one of your clients that could inspire.

It could equally be helpful to give them a tip for self-care they can do at home, with things they may have on hand.

It is a time to give, help and support…not push a big sale.

My hair salon recently sent an email update. Of course they are under state mandate to be closed and no one knows when they will open.

Instead they acknowledged that hair keeps growing. To help their customers they are putting up  a how-to video to get people through the crisis. Helpful ways to avoid the dreaded “baby-bangs.”

Carol, the owner, also has plans to post tips for home nail care.

Waxers could suggest how to best care for the skin if clients need to shave.

Permanent makeup…show tips or suggest products that will last all day. This could work if they couldn’t get in before you had to close, or if they need a re-enhance.

Some of us never leave the house without makeup. Mac knows that and their online sales are going crazy.

My tip for anyone who offer services…look for how can you help, support and nurture.

Let people know you are here if they need you or have questions – virtually. And…once this is passed you’ll still be here for them and their business in 2020 and beyond.

Focus on how you want to be remembered…

when the world starts to return to normal.

Act following that thought…you’ll be on the right path.

photo by Patrick Tomasso Unsplash