COVID-19 is changing the way we live, work, shop and socialize. Increasing demand for certain consumer goods is having an undeniable impact on our economy. Many businesses are being forced to close while products that were otherwise taken for granted (we’ve all heard about the TP) are seeing massive supply shortages due to growing panic. Now is a pivotal time for marketers to communicate with consumers in the right way.
Bradley Johnson of AdAge recalls from 9/11, “The economy needs marketers and marketing. Marketing helps drive commerce.” As we’ve seen before, national and global crises call for unity, compassion and resilience. So how does this translate in our marketing efforts? We’ve compiled the following 4 Guidelines for Marketing During a Global Crisis:
- Be Sensitive and Compassionate
Crisis changes lives and can cause a lot of hurt for those most vulnerable. Make sure your brand’s tone is sensitive, compassionate and appropriate. Listen to your customer’s needs and concerns. Look for meaningful ways to engage with your clients and support them in the ways that you are able to. It is during unprecedented times that people will remember how you and your brand made them feel.
- Reevaluate Your Plan
Review your existing marketing strategy. Campaigns that may have seemed appropriate two weeks ago could no longer be relevant, or worse, they could be downright insensitive. Take Spirit Airlines for example, the day after President Trump announced a 30-day ban on travel from Europe, the company sent a promotional email with the subject “Never A Better Time to Fly”. While the airline claims the automated email was created months ago, they could have avoided some serious negativity around timing of the messaging.
- Communicate Clearly and Often
Have you received COVID-19 emails from all of your favorite brands? If so, there’s good reason for this. Global crisis causes large shifts in everyday life. Whether your clients are large businesses or consumers, uncertainty can cause panic. Relieve some of this stress for your customers by communicating clearly and often. Your honesty and transparency will help to manage expectations and mitigate any potential negativity surrounding your brand. If you’re an employer, this clear communication goes for your employees as well. Make sure your entire team is well informed so that everyone is on the same page when it’s time to communicate the message to customers.
- Connect through Digital Channels
If it weren’t for the internet during a time like this, most businesses would be almost entirely cut off from their customers. Due to concerns revolving around the spread of COVID-19, entire marketing channels are disappearing – live events, face-to-face networking, conferences. Whether for work or pleasure, innovations like social media, live streaming, and email have allowed us to communicate in ways we once never imagined. While many physical locations are closed, we’re able to work, socialize and market through the internet. Many gyms are setting up virtual training, brick and mortar stores are expanding their online presence, and others are ramping up on webinars and virtual events. Consumers are increasingly online, it’s up to businesses and brands to meet them there.
Brands are great at adapting to change, but the massive economic shifts that happen during a crisis are much harder to navigate. It’s important for marketers to stay true to their brand, while reevaluating their short term strategy – we hope these guidelines help.