When the CDC began dramatically increasing the limitations of group gatherings sizes, many of my clients were impacted. Not only were their offices closed, but upcoming fundraising events, community events, and programs were postponed and even canceled. That meant that tickets had to be refunded. Venue deposits were lost. The status of paid sponsorships in limbo.
What was our response?
To communicate all changes and the reasons behind them clearly, quickly, and transparently.
To recognize their disappointment, identify their pain points, and create the best solutions possible.
To offer as much comparable value to our audience, members, customers, and clients as possible.
As we're all painfully aware after more than a month of quarantine, no matter the quality of virtual content, it is no contest to being in the same room with in-person, real-time social interaction. While marketing trends and strategies are shifting to adapt to consumer needs and social distancing restrictions, the principles of digital marketing are the same now as before we ever knew COVID-19 existed: know your audience and offer the unique value they want from your organization.
While I've been working with several clients to transition into the digital product and virtual event space over the past 6 weeks, the best example (and one I'm perhaps most proud of) is the Girl Scouts Connected Virtual Programming series by two of my clients; Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to Midlands and Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina. More than cookies, Girl Scouts offers innovative, leadership-building programming for girls in the form of badge work, council-sponsored events, camp, and so much more. So when troop meetings large-scale events could no longer happen, how could local Girl Scout Councils continue to offer value to their membership? The answer was virtual programming. The same badge work they would be doing with their troops? We now offer it every morning, Monday through Friday, on Zoom. Can't make the live session? It gets posted to their YouTube channels and websites that same day. Fun activities for girls of all ages? We go live every day on Facebook at 3 p.m. with a new activity. When membership kept telling us their girls were missing that group interaction with girls their own age? GSSC-MM and GSESC began hosting virtual hangouts for each age level.
What can we learn from this virtual programming?
Adaptability is key to marketing and content that is relevant and consumable. This is not "business as usual". The content you typically produce isn't what your audience NEEDS right now, and therefore not what they want.
Focus on your key strengths. What do you do better than anyone else in your field or industry? Not only lean into that, but innovate into that. How can you take your key competencies and turn them into solutions for the unique pain points your audience is experiencing.
Don't spread yourself to thin. Focus on 1-3 platforms that allow you to convey your message and value best and that are frequented by your audience or the audience you want to have. You don't have to be everywhere, you just have to be where your customer are.
Be consistent and intentional. Each week my clients mentioned above release a schedule of virtual programming for the following week, along with any supplies needed for the activities. Decide on what value to offer, create a plan to carry it out, then clearly communicate that plan with your audience and follow through thoroughly.
Did you find this article helpful? I hope hearing of how other organizations are creatively adapting to the current climate and finding success will spark ideas to offer value and thrive through this crisis for your own business.
Is your organization brainstorming how to pivot right now to remain relevant, serve your customers, and emerge from the other side of this quarantine thriving? I'd love to set up a time to go over your marketing strategy and where to go from here. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out the contact form here on the website.