As Australia watches the rest of the world react to Coronavirus and wonders how it will affect our country, I want to share a few thoughts on how marketers can prepare for Coronavirus in their work.
I want to state up front that I believe there is no reason for panic at this stage and I think the media has whipped up a frenzy for this virus that, so far, has a smaller impact than the seasonal flu. However, as the government considers ways to contain the virus, we should be mindful about the scenarios that could occur that might affect our work.
We’ve seen other countries close schools, ask employees to work from home and cancel events, so we have an idea of what we might have ahead of us should the virus spread and containment measures come into play. As a marketer, being prepared and ready will allow you to continue working, be organised and make sure you are being smart with the decisions you are making in this time.
What Can Marketers Do To Prepare?
Here are some of the work considerations marketers should be thinking about to prepare for Coronavirus:
Is there something not on this list that should be? Let us know.
- Prepare to work from home
Make sure you are setup to work from home and have a laptop ready to use, with all the technology access that you need and cloud access to files. It’s possible you (or your kids) will be asked to stay at home for a few weeks if the government tries to contain the spread. Consider how your team can be prepared for this change too and make sure the tools are in place to allow for virtual collaboration as well. It might also be a good time to consider your home internet connection, and keep in mind that if a lot of people are working from the area, it will be under a heavier load than normal during this time.
- Do a sanity check on your ad spending
If you haven’t already, think about the likely impacts of Coronavirus on your target audience. Are they likely to change their purchase behaviour or delay purchasing your product? If you are, (for example), spending money advertising new flight paths to Asia, perhaps you want to hold off on this until demand for these flights pick up again. In this scenario, you might be able to think about how you can encourage travellers to plan their travel for a future date or consider how you can help them to minimise their risk.
- Don’t curb your spend
Whilst I encourage you to make sure you are smart with your spend, this could also be a time of opportunity for many companies, particularly those in ecommerce, B2C companies and certain B2B offerings too. With the potential of more people working from home and more people online, this may provide an opportunity to reach people even more than before and to highly target your advertising.
- Assist to repackage your offering
If you work in an industry that will be hardest hit by temporary closures, think about how you might be able to repurpose your product/service with a virtual offering. For example, education providers could offer content online, a restaurant could organise to deliver or an accountant could setup technology for virtual client meetings. This may not be all in your remit as marketers, but as there is likely a technology and data angle here, you are well placed to assist with the customer insights, process and workflow to get it ready.
- Think about new hires
Hopefully employers won’t be making any rash decisions about staffing levels, but it might be wise to review your current hiring plans and think about how the next few months might affect them. Are you about to hire a new team member or grow your team? Is it still the right time for that role if demand changes? Now is a good time to reconsider how the business might need to change over the next months and have further discussions to confirm if the planned direction is still the best one.
- Prove your value
I don’t want to beat around the bush – we need to recognise the potential that if there is an economic downturn, the marketing department might take a hit. Now is the time to make sure you are proving your value, showcasing what you bring to the business and demonstrating how you will continue to do so.Make sure you’ve had a recent review with your manager where you talk about your wins and results and do what you can to plan for the time ahead and show the business that you’ve put some thought into it. If your business does slow down, then there will be a resurgence and businesses are going to want to have the best marketers on hand and ready to fire at 200% when the time is right – make sure you’re the one there to do it.
- Prepare your communications
As marketers, we are often involved in company communications to staff and customers about changes. Make sure you know what changes might be ahead that you need to communicate and prepare the right messaging that you might need. Being on the backfoot in difficult circumstances only makes it harder to get messaging right fast, so it’s better to have some comms prepared that you might never need, than to be scrambling to get the CEO’s ear if you do need to communicate quickly.
- Manage your contact
At this stage there is no directive to change your plans to attend local events, to go to your office or to have meetings, in fact, I think we should all be going to everything we can now, while the risk is low! If things do change, follow the advice of the government authorities and don’t jump the gun. We know that staying home when sick, hand washing and limiting personal contact (think hand shaking) can be some small things that everyone can do to help to curb the virus spread.
- Stay connected
There is no need to retreat into a cocoon should the situation get worse and we are incredibly lucky to live in times where it’s never been easier to connect online. Keep up your communications with others (including those outside your organisation) and leverage the established communities (like Facebook Groups), online training and virtual events to keep you motivated and inspired over the months ahead.
In my personal opinion, there is no reason to change how you go about your day to day activities at this stage. This article simply provides some ideas on how you can be prepared, in case you need to deal with a changed working environment due to Coronavirus.
Please note that these points don’t constitute advice and we recommend you keep across the health authority information and business news in how you plan for this time. Here’s the Australian government's website.