Marketing Strategies in Times of Uncertainty

University of Chicago Booth School of Business Director of Brand Strategy Nicole Yelsey, MBA ’12, recently shared strategies, tactics, and best practices for businesses during this unprecedented time.

“Your reaction right now to things in the present is how your audience is going to support you in the short term, but it’s also going to have a long term impact,” said Yelsey, who stressed the importance of using this time to connect with your audience.

Who is your audience, what is the message, and how do you communicate?

“Your current audiences want you to succeed and thrive,” said Yelsey, though people are being inundated and experiencing “a tidal wave of emotion,” so it is important to have clear and simple messaging.

“People are philanthropic and want to help in ways that are simple, quick, and effective,” she said, suggesting taking advantage of social channels – consumer use of which is up significantly.

“It’s not only ok to ask for help … people want to help,” said Yelsey. “Be clear in your messaging for how you want help.”

Yelsey also noted that inspiration is something people can always use, but it is important to use a tone consistent with the current environment. It also is okay to pause messaging, rethink, and take a step back.

Part of the communication is making sure you tell your customers how you’ve shifted operations. Some examples and ways in which businesses are pivoting to support cash flow include:

  • Online services
  • Online retail
  • Carry out and delivery
  • Virtual events
  • Gift cards
  • Preorders

Additionally, people are hungry for content, said Yelsey.

“If you have content to provide, try new things – get creative in your network,” she added. “One of the pluses of what’s coming out of this, is people are connecting with new people or those they haven’t connected with in a long time.”

The Polsky Center’s virtual Small Business Bootcamp was made possible through a partnership with the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation and the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, on behalf of a larger coalition of University groups and partners.

// We will be recapping the Bootcamp all week, but all the sessions were recorded and can be found online, here.

Interested in seeking more coaching and support? Apply for the Small Business Circle. Applications are due Thursday, April 28 at 5:00 p.m. CST. Learn more and apply. >>

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