COVID-19 Marketing Checklist For Businesses & Brands

One of the things we've always loved about small businesses (versus massive corporations) is that small businesses actually care about what is going on in their communities. In addition to being in-the-know around town, these companies tend to be a part of the local fabric in more ways than one.

Although "social distancing" has become the norm after the COVID-19 outbreak, sticking together as a community is more important and influential than ever. Adjusting to a "stay at home lifestyle" has been difficult for everyone, but has left businesses (particularly in the hospitality and lifestyle industries) scrambling to respond. Most companies are primarily concerned with day-to-day operations right now, which is understandable given how much uncertainty is in the air. However, ignoring your marketing and failing to communicate with customers appropriately is a mistake that business owners can't afford to make -- especially right now.

Regardless of whether your organization has been deemed essential or not, providing accurate and timely information to customers is critical. Local businesses need to utilize digital marketing tools not only to convey messages clearly but to survive the economic downturn as well.
One of the things we've always loved about small businesses (versus massive corporations) is that small businesses actually care about what is going on in their communities. In addition to being in-the-know around town, these companies tend to be a part of the local fabric in more ways than one.

Although "social distancing" has become the norm after the COVID-19 outbreak, sticking together as a community is more important and influential than ever. Adjusting to a "stay at home lifestyle" has been difficult for everyone, but has left businesses (particularly in the hospitality and lifestyle industries) scrambling to respond. Most companies are primarily concerned with day-to-day operations right now, which is understandable given how much uncertainty is in the air. However, ignoring your marketing and failing to communicate with customers appropriately is a mistake that business owners can't afford to make -- especially right now.

Regardless of whether your organization has been deemed essential or not, providing accurate and timely information to customers is critical. Local businesses need to utilize digital marketing tools not only to convey messages clearly but to survive the economic downturn as well.

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“But WHERE do we start?”

As usual, District Maven Marketing & Creative has a solution for you. We've created a comprehensive checklist for online marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic that will not only keep your customers informed in real-time but engaged with (and willing to buy from) your business in the future too.
“But WHERE do we start?”

As usual, District Maven Marketing & Creative has a solution for you. We've created a comprehensive checklist for online marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic that will not only keep your customers informed in real-time but engaged with (and willing to buy from) your business in the future too.

On Your Website

One of the few things business owners can control in a COVID-impacted world is their physical website. Even if sales are dramatically down, this is still an essential medium in which you can relay vital details to customers and stay engaged with your target audience. Below are some of the top things to update on your website:

  • Whether you are closed or semi-operational, it is important to tell people that. Consider putting a banner or pop-up on your site that conveys any adjusted hours of operation as well as new delivery or shipping options available to customers. This information is the most important right now, so it can strategically be the first thing visitors see when visiting your website.

  • On the same chord as the above note, make sure to change contact information and hours of operation everywhere they are mentioned on your website. It is also wise to add a specific "COVID-19" page that people can refer to for the latest word in your brand's policies and procedures.

  • If social media wasn't highly visible on your website before, now is the time to put links to your profile's front and center. It isn't enough to maintain your current level of audience engagement anymore. Instead, you must actively work on continually relaying a unified message that reflects the needs and wants of your local community.

  • Now is not the time to shy away from tooting your own horn. If your business is participating in philanthropic activities in your community, then you should be writing about it! Creating content about COVID-19 charity work is a great way to show your company's compassion and involvement while providing prime backlink opportunities as well.
One of the few things business owners can control in a COVID-impacted world is their physical website. Even if sales are dramatically down, this is still an essential medium in which you can relay vital details to customers and stay engaged with your target audience. Below are some of the top things to update on your website:

  • Whether you are closed or semi-operational, it is important to tell people that. Consider putting a banner or pop-up on your site that conveys any adjusted hours of operation as well as new delivery or shipping options available to customers. This information is the most important right now, so it can strategically be the first thing visitors see when visiting your website.

  • On the same chord as the above note, make sure to change contact information and hours of operation everywhere they are mentioned on your website. It is also wise to add a specific "COVID-19" page that people can refer to for the latest word in your brand's policies and procedures.

  • If social media wasn't highly visible on your website before, now is the time to put links to your profile's front and center. It isn't enough to maintain your current level of audience engagement anymore. Instead, you must actively work on continually relaying a unified message that reflects the needs and wants of your local community.

  • Now is not the time to shy away from tooting your own horn. If your business is participating in philanthropic activities in your community, then you should be writing about it! Creating content about COVID-19 charity work is a great way to show your company's compassion and involvement while providing prime backlink opportunities as well.

Off Your Website

Google Local Business

Whether one realizes it or not, Google Local Business plays an enormous role in connecting businesses and their community. Their involvement is so big that the search engine giant has limited its local product in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. (If you want to learn the nitty-gritty about what you can and cannot do with Google Local Business due to COVID-19, check out this post here.)

However, there are still a few important things you still have control over when it comes to your Google Business profile that should be attended to:

  • Your Name -- Although we encourage all to exercise caution with this one, webmasters now can change their Google Local Business name to reflect the company's current operational status. For example, if your brand is named "Apex Restaurant & Bar," you can now temporarily change your name to "Apex Restaurant & Bar - Pickup & Delivery Available."

    While we would typically never recommend changing your business name on local search profiles (unless undergoing a complete rebrand), it makes sense, given the chaotic and seemingly straight-to-the-point nature of a COVID-riddled world. Keep your changes within reason, but target terms that are both relevant and valuable to your customer's needs.

  • Phone Number -- Even if you're being forced to operate from home, for the time being, it is crucial that customers can still reach you if necessary. Make sure to update your business phone number to a home or cell number if you will not be in the office. Also, don't forget to update your work answering machine message to inform listeners of these changes and the best means of contacting you right now.

  • Hours of Operation -- There is a lot of heated debate currently on whether it is better to show that a business impacted by COVID-19 regulations either has limited hours or no hours at all. In our professional opinion, the best course of action is to utilize Google's option to set special hours. Not only does this tell customers that your business is still operational, but it is also less likely to impact your SEO efforts.

    With that being said, it is crucial to prioritize safety and truthfulness above all else. Businesses that are shut down, for the time being, should take advantage of Google's "temporarily closed" option within the GMB dashboard. Do so with caution, however. In addition to negatively impacting your search rankings, there is no way to determine what the effects of suppression will be or how long it will last.
Whether one realizes it or not, Google Local Business plays an enormous role in connecting businesses and their community. Their involvement is so big that the search engine giant has limited its local product in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. (If you want to learn the nitty-gritty about what you can and cannot do with Google Local Business due to COVID-19, check out this post here.)

However, there are still a few important things you still have control over when it comes to your Google Business profile that should be attended to:

  • Your Name -- Although we encourage all to exercise caution with this one, webmasters now can change their Google Local Business name to reflect the company's current operational status. For example, if your brand is named "Apex Restaurant & Bar," you can now temporarily change your name to "Apex Restaurant & Bar - Pickup & Delivery Available."

    While we would typically never recommend changing your business name on local search profiles (unless undergoing a complete rebrand), it makes sense, given the chaotic and seemingly straight-to-the-point nature of a COVID-riddled world. Keep your changes within reason, but target terms that are both relevant and valuable to your customer's needs.

  • Phone Number -- Even if you're being forced to operate from home, for the time being, it is crucial that customers can still reach you if necessary. Make sure to update your business phone number to a home or cell number if you will not be in the office. Also, don't forget to update your work answering machine message to inform listeners of these changes and the best means of contacting you right now.

  • Hours of Operation -- There is a lot of heated debate currently on whether it is better to show that a business impacted by COVID-19 regulations either has limited hours or no hours at all. In our professional opinion, the best course of action is to utilize Google's option to set special hours. Not only does this tell customers that your business is still operational, but it is also less likely to impact your SEO efforts.

    With that being said, it is crucial to prioritize safety and truthfulness above all else. Businesses that are shut down, for the time being, should take advantage of Google's "temporarily closed" option within the GMB dashboard. Do so with caution, however. In addition to negatively impacting your search rankings, there is no way to determine what the effects of suppression will be or how long it will last.

Bing

Just as one could expect, Bing is also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic but in a less in-depth and comprehensive way than Google. Bing has added a "temporarily closed" option in their dashboard and API so businesses can update their listing accordingly.

Just as explained above, webmasters should do so only if necessary. In addition to keyword placement consequences, there is no way to determine the long-term impact of having this information index throughout the search engines. Bottom line: do what you have to do to stay truthful and accurate, but play it safe and think long-term too.
Just as one could expect, Bing is also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic but in a less in-depth and comprehensive way than Google. Bing has added a "temporarily closed" option in their dashboard and API so businesses can update their listing accordingly.

Just as explained above, webmasters should do so only if necessary. In addition to keyword placement consequences, there is no way to determine the long-term impact of having this information index throughout the search engines. Bottom line: do what you have to do to stay truthful and accurate, but play it safe and think long-term too.

Yelp

Like Google and Bing, Yelp has also created a new "temporarily closed" field for business owners to add to their profiles. This feature is intended to be used by local organizations and brands that are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but not permanently. Yelp's key difference here is that webmasters also have to indicate an estimated "end date" for when they will tentatively reopen.

Don't stress about this part, however. Just like the hours of operations listed on your business profile, this "end date" can always be adjusted as necessary.
Like Google and Bing, Yelp has also created a new "temporarily closed" field for business owners to add to their profiles. This feature is intended to be used by local organizations and brands that are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but not permanently. Yelp's key difference here is that webmasters also have to indicate an estimated "end date" for when they will tentatively reopen.

Don't stress about this part, however. Just like the hours of operations listed on your business profile, this "end date" can always be adjusted as necessary.

Social Media

Regardless of your preferred social community, the importance of social media's instantaneous communication opportunities should not be underestimated. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are fantastic tools to not only spotlight your own services, but continue the conversation by asking followers and customers what information is most important to them right now. (Staying updated with what other local businesses are doing on social media is always a good idea too, as you can discover new avenues for marketing and promotion too!)
Regardless of your preferred social community, the importance of social media's instantaneous communication opportunities should not be underestimated. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are fantastic tools to not only spotlight your own services, but continue the conversation by asking followers and customers what information is most important to them right now. (Staying updated with what other local businesses are doing on social media is always a good idea too, as you can discover new avenues for marketing and promotion too!)

Email Marketing

If you are actively engaging in email marketing already, make it a point to put your drip campaigns and automation systems to good use. Instead of sending the same basic messages that are flooding everyone's inboxes as of late, utilize this method of messaging to engage recipients in a relevant, unique, and fun activity. People are bored as hell and looking for something -- nay, anything to do right now. Prevent your email blasts from being moved to the trash bin by thinking outside of the box and offering customers something that is both valuable and fun.
If you are actively engaging in email marketing already, make it a point to put your drip campaigns and automation systems to good use. Instead of sending the same basic messages that are flooding everyone's inboxes as of late, utilize this method of messaging to engage recipients in a relevant, unique, and fun activity. People are bored as hell and looking for something -- nay, anything to do right now. Prevent your email blasts from being moved to the trash bin by thinking outside of the box and offering customers something that is both valuable and fun.



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about us

For over a decade, District Maven has worked with businesses across the country to establish a formidable and profitable brand online. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Regardless of the industry or client, trust, respect and integrity are at the heart of every relationship we maintain -- and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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