COVID-19 (aka the novel Coronavirus) has forced governments around the world to impose travel restrictions and movement lock down orders. This has resulted in huge financial losses for consumer businesses, particularly those in the travel, retail, lifestyle and F&B sectors.
Professionals in the entertainment and events spaces have also seen a significant drop in their incomes, as shows are cancelled or postponed.
Thankfully, governments around the world have responded to the crisis.
Many announced extraordinary measures to help companies and businesses to tide over this period and stay afloat. Here in Singapore, a S$48 billion “Resilience Budget” was specially conceived to help individuals and businesses with cash payouts and income subsidies from the government.
While these efforts at tackling business and living costs are laudable, they may not be enough to keep businesses afloat—particularly those that are Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
As the global health pandemic continues to escalate—over 660,000 cases and 31,000 deaths as of this writing—tighter movement restrictions may be announced.
Given this scenario, what should your consumer business do? Do you throw in the towel and give up altogether?
Time to Build Your Brand Online
As I’ve previously written, your goal in a crisis isn’t to shut down and close up. Instead, you should double or even triple down on these…
- Grow brand awareness and affection by telling brand stories and sharing helpful content
- Build your online communities and deepen engagement with your fans
- Help the huge online community to alleviate the tedium of stay-at-home lifestyles by entertaining them
Your goal at this point is to show that you’re here to stay. Make your brand known. Foster affection for your brand.
Strengthen your online presence by being entertaining, educational and useful—even when your physical outlets are shut.
To help you get started, here are some ideas for different lifestyle and consumer businesses below. It isn’t exhaustive, and I hope that you’ll add on some suggestions of your own.
#1 Performing Artists (Singers, Dancers, Musicians, Comedians, Actors etc)
The cancellations of concerts, closure of pubs, and other live event gigs have made times difficult for entertainers. Many are freelancers who depend on performances and bookings to sustain themselves.
#2 Visual Artists and Gallery Owners
What if your work isn’t given to live-streaming? For instance, you could be a visual artist or you may own an art gallery.
Like performing artists, your goal is to show your work or use it to bring levity to people’s lives. At times like these, I believe that people need the arts more than ever.
Here’s a wonderful example from uber-popular artist Jeff Koons, who created an artwork with his usual whimsical touch and shared it with the world.
#3 Cinemas, Concert Halls and Event Venues
With people shying away from crowds, movie theatres, concert halls, stadiums, convention centres and other venues have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis.
(In Singapore, they have to be closed for the next month or so to prevent community transmission.)
This depends on the nature of your venue:
- If you run a concert hall, use your social media platforms to talk about memorable classical/ rock/ hip-hop/ pop concerts
- If you manage a cinema, consider putting up recommendations of top movies that people can watch at home
- If you own an exhibition and conference venue, think about putting up seminars and talks that your audience may be keen to learn from
Although it isn’t a venue owner, WatchMojo shows how you can create engaging content from movies. The goal isn’t to replace the cinematic experience—on the contrary, such content actually helps to drive movie bookings when restriction orders are lifted. Here’s an example below.
#4 Theme Parks, Museums and Indoor Attractions
The screams of delight have all but died down at Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flags. While some museums are still operating, others (like the world famous Louvre in Paris) have been temporarily shuttered.
What can you do to sustain interest in your attraction—especially when tourists have virtually disappeared due to coronavirus travel restrictions?
Consider putting up a virtual experience of your attraction, like these 14 world class museums that you can visit from your laptop.
Here’s an example featuring the world famous Rijksmuseum using Google’s technology.
Or you can offer a virtual theme park ride experience, like this adrenaline-pumping and jaw-dropping POV (Point Of View) experience of Ocean Park in Hong Kong.
#5 Fashion and Beauty Retailers
Times may be difficult, but we still need to look our Sunday best don’t we? In fact, psychological studies show that dressing well gives us a boost—sorely needed in tough times like these.
When the crowds thin at your retail outlet or make-up counters (social distancing measures, remember?), consider giving your audience ideas on dressing up, looking good and being well even as they’re pottering around their homes, or walking to the neighbourhood convenience stores.
In short, now is the time to put together that online look book which you’ve delayed for years to produce!
Here’s an example of style tips for those working from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
(Read this article for more online marketing ideas for fashion and beauty brands.)
#6 Furniture Manufacturers and Retailers
You guys are in luck. As your potential customers spend more and more time at home, they’re going to spend more time trying to improve their work from home arrangements.
Instead of still trying to promote visitors to your store, consider offering furnishing ideas to help people make their homes a cozy office.
Here’s an example of the types of blog article you can write.
#7 Florists and Gift Shops
Ahhh…. Nothing beats a bright bouquet of flowers to cheer up your gloomy coronavirus-filled newsfeed. Or suggestions on how to cheer your friends, family and colleagues up when they’re stranded at home due to Leave Of Absence (LOA) or Stay Home Notice (SHN) orders.
But what content ideas can you offer when the crowds at your florist and gift shop things?
Consider using your social media platforms to add some colour and cheer to people’s lives, like this example from 1800 Flowers. Don’t just try to sell your bouquets—instead use them as talking points to interact with your community.
PS—it helps to hire a photographer (or train your staff) to take gorgeous photos too!
#8 Children Enrichment and Tuition Centres
With the tightening of movement for students, enrichment and tuition centres in Singapore catering to students 18 years and under have to temporarily stop their classroom sessions. To cater to this change, many have tapped on online tools like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts to virtually teach and mentor their students.
But can these centres tap on social media marketing to boost their brand awareness?
One way enrichment centres can improve their online presence is to post problems or questions commonly associated with their field. You can poll your community and see if they can answer these problems. This can be a fun way to engage geeky and nerdy parents (and their children), such as these examples from M4maths.
#9 Gyms, Fitness Centres and Personal Trainers
What if you are in the business of fitness? Like if you’re a yoga or pilates coach, or a physical fitness instructor? Or perhaps you manage a gym or a studio offering fitness classes?
The goal here is to see if you can continue to offer a programme of online fitness to your followers and customers. Or provide workouts that your fans and customers can do from home.
There are lots of examples here. Blogilates (aka Casey Ho) is probably one of the more famous pilates influencers (also a business owner) who offers some workout ideas for the many of us stuck at home.
#10 Spas, Massage Centres, and Holistic Therapy Shops
Admittedly, it’ll be difficult to replicate the experience of a spa at home. Or to give yourself the same massage that an established Tui Na specialist can provide.
But when business almost grinds to a halt, offering endless packages and discounts may no longer work.
Here I’d like to suggest that such you share some massages that people can take to ease their Covid-19 induced stress. Or perhaps essential oils that can help to relieve stress, refresh tired minds and bodies, and induce clam.
An example here is from the YouTube channel PsycheTruth, which provides some massage moves that you can apply to your partner at home.
#11 Restaurants, Cafes and Food Outlets
For food and beverage outlets, the onset of the coronavirus have led to more takeaways and food delivery services to augment their business. While restaurants and cafes can still operate in Singapore (subject to physical distancing rules), those in other countries have been subject to stricter restrictions.
To maintain your online presence in the midst of the pandemic, you can use your social channels to share the following…
- Recipe ideas
- Food preparation processes (people love to watch these)
- Gorgeous photographs or videos of your food
The Staff Canteen is an example of a YouTube channel which shares recipes used by the top Michelin-starred chefs around the world. While it doesn’t associate itself with any specific restaurant or F&B outlet, the content it produces could possibly be replicated by restaurant chefs.
(Read this article for more ideas on marketing your food and beverage outlet online.)
#12 Bars, Pubs and Clubs
More severely affected than restaurants, many bars and pubs around the world have to be shut during this period (or operate under restricted hours).
To keep your online communities going, you can perhaps suggest a playlist that people can listen to while imbibing their favourite drinks, or recipes for cocktails that are specially conceived for this somber season—it doesn’t just have to be Corona beers!
Here’s an example from the Facebook Page Cocktails Recipe.
#13 Travel and Tourism Businesses (Hotels, Travel Agencies, Airlines)
Last, but certainly not least, we need to consider the hardest hit of all—travel and tourism businesses.
While F&B outlets and retailers are also affected by the international travel restrictions, hotels, travel agencies and airlines are probably more badly affected.
Although the pessimists are predicting that the coronavirus may permanently change how people commute, the likelihood is that the travel bug will bite all of us once this nasty bug is under control.
I like how Conde Nast Traveller suggests the idea of “armchair travel” as a land-locked alternative for the traveller in all of us as shown here. Their content helps to make the current situation more “bearable”?
Or you can consider going for a Virtual Vacation too! These guys from Tripsavvy have compiled a list of places you can virtually visit from the comfort of your home.
And there you have it—social media marketing ideas to keep your consumer brand alive amidst the Covid-19 slowdown.
I hope that you found this compilation useful. While some of the ideas are exclusive to certain industries, others can probably be switched.
Which ideas do you think you can immediately apply and why? I’d love to read your thoughts!