Three essential marketing tips for the VCSE sector during COVID-19

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed how marketing works – in the last 10 months, we’ve gone from leaflets and in-person volunteering and promotional events to information helplines, Facebook mutual aid groups and Zoom sessions.  

Even if your marketing budget is small (or non-existent), you need to match your marketing tactics to the times we live in.  

Update all your marketing channels with current service information 

COVID-19 will have affected your organisation’s services and the hours your staff and volunteers work. It’s vital you share the current opening hours and service changes through all your channels, including your website, email marketing, social media, and through posters outside your premises if possible. 

You’ll also need to change your answerphone message, and consider adding any major changes into an email signature or auto-reply on email accounts. These are easy to amend in your email settings.   

If your service users don’t have access to the internet or a mobile phone, or English isn’t their first language, think about how else you can get in touch. Whilst lockdown means reducing face-to-face contact and printed materials, it may be that the best way to reach someone is through a landline phone call (following GDPR guidelines), or a poster on a community notice board – many supermarkets and corner shops have notice boards. Make sure you get materials translate for non-English speakers, too; there are also social distancing posters and vaccine videos available in a range of languages.  

Choose images that fit with COVID-19 (unless you’re posting about ‘normal’ life) 

Images are really important tools to help readers engage with your content, whether you’re working on a social media post, a newsletter or a page on your website. An image can replace a whole paragraph of text, and clearly communicate your message.  

At Voscur, we use a mixture of stock images (sourced from image banks online, such as Pexels, and crediting the photographers and websites where necessary), photographs we’ve taken, and graphics we’ve made using free graphic design platforms like Canva, which has step-by-step guides for beginners.  

In a time of social distancing and lockdown, it’s important we don’t use images that ignore the rules – for example, we couldn’t show a group of people sitting close together in a meeting room, or charity marathon runners (unless we were clearly referring to something that used to happen). However, we could show a family or group of housemates in lockdown together, a socially distanced volunteering task, or someone working from home on a laptop.  

Share resources and links  

Help spread the word about important local and national updates from reliable sources. Use the power of your networks to spread accurate information in the most appropriate way for your service users.  

Add resources to your website, as PDFs or by linking to other websites. Make it clear who created the resource, so you aren’t passing off someone else’s content as your own. Be careful not to use chunks of other people’s text in your website copy; a sentence or two, with a link back, is fine, but copying and pasting paragraphs or articles is bad practice and it goes against Google’s website guidelines.   

You can turn your own written content into a resource by saving Word documents as PDFs – go to the File tab on the menu in Word, and select ‘Save as Adobe PDF’. Check you have branded the document with your organisation’s name first; you could do this by adding your logo at the top, or typing the name in the footer of the document (go to the Insert tab, then select Footer).  

You could also make a video as a resource; our Smartphone Video course (forthcoming) will show you how to make and edit a basic video using your phone, and it’s suitable for beginners. Video is a really engaging tool for getting your marketing messages across, and it doesn’t have to be long or complicated. A video of 1-2 minutes could work wonders.    

If you want a different kind of marketing course for your organisation, talk to us today about bespoke training sessions.