In the marketing world, the COVID-19 crisis has shined a light on a fact that is fundamentally true but often forgotten: Marketing isn’t really about brands or businesses or products. It’s about people.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on so many businesses. If yours is one that is fortunate enough to still be operating, serving or selling then you may be wondering – how can you adapt your marketing approach to this suddenly new world?
First and foremost, remember that COVID-19 has personally affected millions of people around the world, both directly and indirectly. Be up front in your messaging and acknowledge the impact that it has made – or risk the consequences of seeming insensitive, or worse opportunistic, in what is a time of personal crisis and instability for so many.
Think about your brand’s voice. If humor is typically a part of your presentation, it’s probably best to cut back the comedy and clever puns for now. Think about the way you phrase your messages and avoid tone or words that could feel inappropriate in the current world environment. Now is not the time to “take advantage” or “go viral” but it is a time to be “here to serve” and “help connect”. Keep your communication true to your brand, keep it conversational and most of all keep it authentic. And remember it’s not only about the text, but also the imagery you choose in your communications. Gatherings, crowds and personal contact from hugs to handshakes are all sensitive areas during this time so evaluate your images with an eye to how they will be perceived in the here and now.
All that said, it’s ok to look to the future or to strike a positive tone as long as it is done with sensitivity. Be an advocate, be an inspiration, be a resource and be available as both you and your customers look for better days ahead.
COVID-19 has drastically changed the way people live, shop and engage with others. And many experts agree that a lot of these changes will stick with us long after the crisis has abated. That means you need to think about both the short- and long-term effects and how your marketing approach will respond to reach the people you serve.
What is the true value that you provide to your customers? Focus on that and analyze how it fits in to where they are today to guide your efforts. Then meet them where they are. Overwhelmingly right now and likely going forward, that’s online. By the numbers, the web already ruled the macro marketing world but now everyone from brick-and-mortar Main Street to B2B direct sellers are finding that a digital front door is a necessity. The pandemic crisis is not only pushing audiences online like never before, but they’re getting comfortable there. As digital experiences become the norm, it’s likely the habit will stick. That means investment in your brand’s digital presence and social media is crucial not just for near term crisis management but for the long haul going forward.
The good news as always about the online marketing approach is that it is highly effective, highly cost-effective and highly trackable. If you are running paid advertising, adapt your ad creative wisely and track results closely to find ways to hone your efforts for maximum impact on the most efficient investment possible. As audiences spend more time online, many advertisers are finding that impressions are climbing and cost per click is falling – as long as their content and targeting are smart and appropriate. Test your campaigns, optimize your website, use your data and keep doing it. Being smart means being adaptable.
And outside of paid media, don’t underestimate the importance of a strategic approach to your digital communications that’s both targeted and authentic – whether it’s on your website, blog, email or social media. In a world of social distancing, these places are more important lines of communication than ever before, allowing you to not just talk at your customers but have a dialogue, answer questions and provide information. Face to face may not be a thing right now but video offers a wonderful tool to speak directly and genuinely. Being smart also means being creative and finding new connection points to engage with your audiences in a way that is meaningful for both sides.
As our country and our world continue to navigate the spread and fallout of COVID-19, it’s clearer than ever before that we’re all in this together. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, marketing is no exception. Doing business is a relationship after all. Express your genuine care for your customers, employees and community now, be sensitive and find smart ways to continue to deliver value and you will likely find your efforts repaid in kind with long-lasting support and brand loyalty. Remember at the end of the day, it’s always about people.
Header Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash