CMO in Crisis: Guide to Focusing Marketing in a Time of Crisis

cmo mapping crisis communications on whiteboard with postit notes

Marketing is one of your most essential business assets in a crisis.

When the unexpected, maybe even the unprecedented, happens you need to know how to press pause on your current marketing strategy and switch to crisis marketing.

If you’re a CMO or Marketing Director, this is how you leverage your skills and talent to support your company, executives, and customers in times of crisis.

 

 

Communicate, communicate, communicate

We’re professional communicators. We’re experts at processing the complex into brief clarity. Leverage those skills to sort the chaos for your team and customers.

Increase your writing, video production, or podcast production, whichever is your preferred medium. People crave news and analysis in times of uncertainty.

Work Closely with Executive to Craft Appropriate Communications

So often as executives are frantically responding to everything that is thrown at them they can become overloaded with information as well as understandably stressed and agitated. These factors can produce gaffs or insensitive communications.

Work closely with your executive stakeholders to equip them with concise talking points to support clear and appropriate communications. One of the practices that I implement from my days in the military is creating a daily Talking Paper. This is a one to two-page document that I recommend you create early each morning and distribute to your executives and team members.

This keeps everyone on the same page and communicating the same message.

Work with Your Team to Create Innovative Campaigns

Crisis often gives you unique opportunities for innovation and creativity. Encourage your team to create innovative campaigns and experiences for customers.

Give Your Team Important Projects

You’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. But, what about your team? I’ve led businesses through several crises both as an executive and a business owner. One of the things I’ve learned to be mindful of is the team’s work.

Lack of direction and boredom is a silent killer. The very nature of the most effective antidote to the COVID-19 virus – isolation and quarantine – can be confused with a lack of anything productive to do.

Lead your team and get them working on important projects. I’m going to list a few as I continue this list, but start thinking in terms of the following broad categories: 1. Things that you haven’t been able to get time or priority for, 2. Things that can directly support more efficient crisis response and communications, 3. Things that need to stay on track and stable despite the crisis, 4. Things that prepare you to return to normalcy in a strong way.

Optimize Your Website for Speed and Mobile

Immediately focus more attention on your website, especially during this COVID-19 crisis. Overnight people have become 100% reliant on digital channels. Make sure that you’re website is prepared to deliver.

First and foremost this preparedness requires your website to be optimized for speed and mobile devices. This does not necessarily need to be a long or complex project at this moment. There are a lot of things that can be done to quickly refactor your website to be faster and more mobile-responsive. Take the time to prioritize these tactical projects.

In addition to speed and mobile optimizations, create crisis specific content and features like a COVID-19 landing page and alert bar to quickly guide your customers to important, crisis-specific information.

Enhance Your Content Marketing and Email Marketing Capabilities

During good times content and emails become automated assembly lines of regurgitated SEO keyword articles and hyperbolic email messages begging for attention.

In crises, you have a unique opportunity to be relevant and original with your content. Take the time and devote the resources to create timely and informed content. Ramp up your writers and challenge them to create content with unique perspectives and emails that are craved by your uncertain and fearful customers.

Increase Your Content Production

People crave news and information in a crisis. Make sure that you are serving this need. If you are investing in anything make sure that it is content production. If you are shifting marketing budgets, shift it into relevant crisis communications and content.

Recast Your Editorial Calendar

Pause your marketing automation and review your editorial calendar. You should be recasting your topics and communications to address to the spike in searches around the crisis as is pertains to your business and industry.

Quickly position yourself to be the expert in responding to the crisis for your industry and your customers.

Encourage Your Customers to Opt-in to Special Communications

Like I have mentioned over and over in this article, people are craving information. Make the process of getting information from you and your company frictionless. Immediately increase and improve the opportunity for consumers to subscribe to your communications – email and text messaging lists.

Then, make sure that you are fulfilling the promise and value of that subscription. Create and resource an exceptional and creative content program for that list.

Increase Your Content into Social Channels

Most people aren’t navigating directly to your website for news and information from you. However, they are actively searching and scanning through their social media feeds for the latest and best information sources. Create a strategy to position your company for these views and become a trusted source for your industry.

Stay Engaged and Informed

Finally, and probably most important – stay engaged and informed.

Email and call the smartest people in your network. Compare notes with colleagues in your industry. On Twitter and Linkedin create a highly curated list of smart people and listen and engage with that group.

Become a trusted curator and communicator for your business partners and executives, company, industry, and consumers.

How can I help?

Would it help to spend 30 minutes on a Zoom call to talk through some strategy and ideas for your crisis response? If you’re willing for me to record and turn it into content I’ll do it for free. Schedule a time.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

About Bill Rice

Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico, a digital agency. Bill specializes in providing law firms, attorneys, banks, and emerging technology clients with lead generation strategies enabled with content marketing, SEO, PPC, and email marketing.

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