I'm not sure if you've heard, but there's this grubby disease called coronavirus (or COVID-19 if you're being all fancy ‘n' stuff) running around the place at the moment.
It's quite breaking news – in fact, I've only seen about nineteen thousand posts about it so far, so you'd be forgiven for not having noticed.
But this is a marketing website, so the question of the moment is this: how should the coronavirus news impact how you market and what you talk about?
The easy solution is just to avoid saying anything that's obviously stupid.
There are probably three main options:
- Talk about coronavirus a lot;
- Don't mention it at all;
- Cease all marketing for the duration of the issue.
Of course you could combine (1) and (2) a bit, but those pretty much cover the spectrum.
So which is best?
Right up front I'm going to say that if you have already implemented a consistent marketing strategy for your law firm, then coronavirus doesn't need to have a significant impact on that strategy. Remember, marketing is ultimately about relationship-building. Your desired clients and the things they care about have not fundamentally changed.
All Coronavirus, All the Time
So when might coronavirus make a regular appearance in your material? The most likely candidate here is where your legal area can speak directly to the impact the virus is going to have on your clients.
“But Chris,” I hear you say, “It's going to have an impact on everyone, right?”. Yes, but that doesn't mean your area of expertise has anything to say about it.
What I've seen a bit of recently is firms and practitioners, in a desperate attempt to be relevant and topical, create content with only a tenuous, if any, connection to coronavirus. Unless you're particularly creative, that's probably a bad idea.
So if you're a conveyancing firm, publishing a series of articles about how buying off-the-plan can help to slow the spread of coronavirus is probably a poor play.
That said, there are plenty of impacted industries so there's probably an article out there for most firms and areas, but not necessarily a constant stream of them.
The added problem you're going to have with coronavirus content is differentiating.
Why? Because most of it has been said.
Now that's not necessarily a show-stopper, because it's entirely possible to do a bit of preaching to the choir here on this particular topic. However I'm not convinced the world needs another infographic about hand-washing or social distancing. And if it does need that, it probably doesn't need it from you.
So… Should we Just Stay Off Coronavirus completely?
If you can't think of something topical to say, or you've already say what needed saying, then it's entirely reasonable and acceptable to just continue your existing marketing strategy.
- Businesses still need to get paid
- Estranged spouses still need advice
- Crimes are still being committed
- Properties are still on the market.
The risk that you're rightly going to be worried about is the perception that you're “tone deaf”. After all, if you just keep pumping out content without a second glance at the pandemic that's taken over the world's conversation, then there's a chance it might look like you're completely out of touch.
The biggest worry there is if you're promoting large in-person events or things that are just patently at odds with where people's mindsets are right now. That's not a huge risk for law firms, but it exists. The easy solution there is just to avoid saying anything that's obviously stupid. Nor should you allow automatic post sharing to continue without double-checking there's nothing in the pipeline that is objectionable.
However, if you want to maintain relevancy you can always intersperse your major pieces of content (unrelated to coronavirus) with smaller, micro-content that confirms you understand what's going on and its impact on your audience. That combination should help avoid the perception that you're living under a rock (which, ironically, some people would rather be doing at the moment).
What About Just Stopping Everything?
Probably a bad plan.
For starters, a tonne more people are going to be on the internet reading stuff at the moment, so a good content campaign has a chance of more eyeballs.
Next question… why? Sure, something bad is happening that's worrying people. But what's worrying people more is that life as they know it is going to come to an end.
So while there are certainly some times where you might just shut down the marketing machine entirely to avoid any semblance of self-promotion, I'm not sure this is such an occasion.
What's Your Plan?
So what's your marketing approach going to be during the pandemic? Do you have a plan at all, or are you just winging it?