It’s something you probably don’t think about very often. As a business owner, how do you adjust your marketing strategy in preparation for, and in light of, a natural disaster? It’s a tricky question that requires a lengthy answer. Keep reading to find out more about how a natural disaster should affect your marketing strategy.
As you most likely know, Hurricane Harvey wrecked the greater Houston area a little more than a month ago. Because of Harvey, we had to quickly adjust the marketing strategy for our own business as well as for all of our clients. These are a few of the things that we learned and put into practice over the course of the past several weeks.
Integrity, Trust and Compassion Matter Most
There is nothing more important for your business than the need to emphasize your integrity, trustworthiness and compassion. Even before a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado or earthquake, your business should be emphasizing and conveying these key characteristics throughout your marketing efforts. However, the importance of these characteristics is only heightened in preparation, and in light, of a natural disaster.
Victims of a natural disaster are understandably vulnerable. As a result of Hurricane Harvey, thousands of Texans lost their homes, leaving them vulnerable to deceitful scam artists. What must you do to ensure these suffering victims who are suddenly potential customers that you can be trusted? You use marketing platforms to convey why they should trust you. Just think about it… why are you trustworthy? What all contributes to your integrity? What makes you compassionate? These are the things that people need to see and hear in light of a natural disaster.
How to Emphasize These Vital Characteristics
There are many different ways that you can emphasize these characteristics. However, the way you emphasize these characteristics depends on what kind of business you own. After a natural disaster, all small businesses are immediately split into two separate categories; essential and non-essential.
We’ll start with essential businesses. For example, if you are a roofing company in a community recently ravaged by a horrific tornado, you are an essential business. You provide a good/service that is absolutely essential to victims of the tornado. Now, more than ever, people in your community will be needing your roofing services in order to repair their homes and businesses.
So, as an essential business, how do you adjust your marketing strategy? You must focus on both web-based marketing and social media marketing. Adjust your SEO and Google AdWords tactics in order to place yourself as a top search result that people know they can trust. Adjust the background photo on your website to a graphic showing your love and compassion for your community and those impacted by the natural disaster. Make sure that when people search for roofing repair companies, they see you as a trusted and compassionate result.
On top of web-based marketing, you must adjust your social media marketing strategy. Your social media accounts should be used to provide valuable information to your community. Provide information about local shelters, local rescue efforts, tips on how to deal with the rebuilding process, etc. Rather than focusing on sales, you must focus on establishing yourself as a key and compassionate provider of information.
One little tip… As an essential business, a great way to emphasize and convey your trustworthiness is to highlight your customer reviews. Victims of a natural disaster who need roofing repair (just as an example) are more likely to trust your business if they see that you have an adequate number of positive reviews. Natural disasters are a hotbed for scam artists who come in looking to take advantage of those in need in order to make some quick money. Highlighting your customer reviews is a great way to separate your reputable business from a sham business like many that will enter an area affected by a natural disaster.
So, what is a non-essential business? The best way to define a non-essential business is to contrast it with an essential business. Whereas an essential business provides a good/service that is necessary for the rebuilding/recovery efforts, a non-essential does not. Dentist offices, hair salons, optometrists and restaurants are all examples of non-essential businesses. While people in the community might need a haircut or a teeth-whitening appointment, these services pale in comparison to the necessity of rebuilding supplies.
How do you adjust your marketing strategy as a non-essential business? Well, you’re not going to be worried about your web-based marketing efforts like an essential business would be. However, you do need to concentrate on social media marketing. Your perception as a caring and trustworthy is still vital even though your audience might not place as much priority on your goods and services at the moment. While people might not be searching for your business, they still notice your social media presence. Establish your business as a valuable source of information. Just because you don’t provide a good/service that is necessary during the rebuilding/recovery process doesn’t mean you can’t provide necessary information. Valuable information is just as important as necessary goods/services.
Be Personable and Relatable
Being personable and relating to your audience is absolutely essential in this time of recovery and rebuild. Go out and help with the recovery efforts. Partner with local grass-root organizations. Buy necessary goods in order to give them away to those in need. All of these are fantastic ways to convey your integrity, trustworthiness and compassion even though people aren’t necessarily looking to do business with you.
If Possible, Don’t Wait Until After the Natural Disaster
Not all natural disasters are the same. Each natural disaster has a completely different level of forewarning. For example, meteorologists can predict, with fairly incredible accuracy, the path of a hurricane days in advance of landfall. In contrast, no one can predict with much accuracy when an earthquake will strike. All of this is to say that, if you foresee a natural disaster possibly impacting your area, you need to immediately adjust your marketing strategy. If meteorologists are predicting a major hurricane to make landfall on your community a week in advance, don’t wait until a day or two prior to landfall to adjust your marketing strategy. As soon as you see the potential for a natural disaster you need to be adjusting accordingly.
No matter what type of business you own, a natural disaster is never welcomed. It’s not easy to see your community suffer through the tough times following disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. However, you must be prepared to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information during the rebuilding process.
For any questions regarding marketing strategy in the light of a natural disaster, or to schedule a consultation, call us today!