Business Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Strategy in COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Fancy Comma, LLC was a new business. The founder, freelance writer Sheeva Azma, had just established her new company a month earlier, in February 2020. Suddenly, she found herself in a turbulent economic climate which forced her to adapt rapidly. Clients were asking for information about COVID-19 left and right, and she had no website to direct them to writing samples and examples of the type of work she did. She, like all other small business owners out there, was navigating uncharted waters and needed to realign her business priorities and principles — and fast.
Sheeva quickly made the decision to launch a website for Fancy Comma, LLC, and invest heavily in marketing and promotion to build the company’s brand. The goal was to position the new company as one doing smart, informative science, health, business, and policy content writing and copywriting. The first step was to purchase a domain name. The next step was to develop a social media presence and begin interacting on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Through the establishment of her social media channels, Sheeva managed to meet Nidhi Parekh, an occupational disease paralegal, and lead science writer and illustrator at The Shared Microscope. Both scientists, Sheeva and Nidhi have worked to create a valuable set of resources on the science behind COVID-19 and the vaccines in development against the novel coronavirus, which can be found on the Fancy Comma, LLC website. These resources, which unpack the science behind some of the major COVID-19 vaccines such as Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Novavax, have received over 10,000 pageviews since late May 2020.
Image by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash.
Below are a few tips that Sheeva and Nidhi can share from their fruitful collaboration together.
1. Don’t forego marketing
While it may seem tempting to slash marketing budgets, businesses who do so are actually more likely to fail especially in the current pandemic atmosphere. It also means letting go of a strategy which has the potential to show great results.
The coronavirus crisis has forced both consumers and businesses indoors which has led to major shifts in behavioral trends. Consumers have returned to broadcast and cable television, have more time to read books, magazines and newspapers, and also spend more time on social media sites like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube. Consumers are looking at advertisements more now than ever before. They are seeking out credible information, and also entertainment – including online video games and gaming apps. All these aforementioned sources are a great opportunity in terms of advertising your products and services.
Using their resources, and spending more time than money, Sheeva and Nidhi have been able to drive traffic to their site in the thousands. Since May 2020, they have driven upwards of 10,000 people to the COVID-19 Resources page on the Fancy Comma, LLC website.
Amount spent? Not one cent.
2. Talk about the Elephant in the Room
Your digital and marketing strategies must align with current news and happenings. The pandemic has left people feeling anxious and vulnerable. It is therefore a good strategy to resonate with these feelings and also point towards hope and joy. People want to see other people: they want to know the person behind the facade of the agency or organization. This approach of talking about COVID-19 in advertising has been used by Nike in their campaign to stress the need for social distancing – “Play inside, play for the world.”
Whilst talking about the pandemic, try to associate your brand with the good. People remember the good you do, especially when the ground they stand on is unstable. A number of brands have followed this advice – some alcohol manufacturers have pivoted and made hand sanitizers to donate thereby alleviating short supplies. Similarly, The Body Coach’s Joe Wicks hosted LIVE free workouts for kids and families – all the money he raised was donated to the NHS in the UK. He produced daily content to alleviate stress and anxiety.
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3. A Crisis Demands Learning.
Though the pandemic is testing our limits internationally, we have found that it presented us with an opportunity to expand on our science writing skills — and be able to help inform people about potential vaccines and other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic — in the process.
Sheeva and Nidhi have focused on this for the most part. They have written pieces to explain various aspects of the pandemic: the virus, the use of masks, the vaccine development timeline, the different types of vaccines etc.
In fact, we are proud to say that we are the only science writers diving into the deep end with anything COVID-19, and explaining the entire science behind the COVID-19 vaccines – how they’re made, how they’re mass-produced, what research are they based on, are they backed by other research? For more answers, visit Fancy Comma LLC’s COVID-19 Resources Page.
4. Enhance your portfolio
If you can, take the opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone and learn more about any particular topic. Learn with the idea to enhance your portfolio. Identify areas that are succeeding/may succeed, and try to follow the crowd/ be a pioneer. Evolve your business to add more value to the end consumer; if you can do this, the customer will be happy with your work and hire you long term while also bringing you more clients from word of mouth referrals.
Our best tip is to pick a topic and stick to it. Our topic? COVID-19. More specifically? COVID-19 resources for lay people. Our articles showed up on a number of investor sites as they are helping make decisions on what drug/vaccine companies to invest in.
Remember that you can work to gain more experience by negotiating with clients who may not have the budget to pay you your rate, but do interesting work. This will enable you to enhance your portfolio on the job.
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5. Don’t go it alone
Research indicates that people are more likely to be successful when working together, rather than when working alone. It also ensures fair division of labor and prevents burnout — another problem on the rise amid the pandemic. Our collaborations together have resulted in many great pitches and a continuous stream of work for the both of us.
We suggest that you keep an eye out for collaborations you can make not only inside your own company, but also outside of it. Chances are they too are looking to collaborate and you can both together and add value to your chain of business.
There is no doubt that coronavirus has accelerated digital strategy globally. Companies are having to refigure themselves as per lockdown strategies being implemented in every country. While the ostrich effect is comforting, there is no time to bury our heads in the sand. We need to move, we need to evolve, and we need to be victorious against the novel coronavirus pandemic.