Why Now Is Not The Time To Go Dark
How to thoughtfully market your brand in the midst of a pandemic
AMY PETERSON, MANAGER — BRAND AND PRODUCT MARKETING
Marketing isn’t going away. It’s not even on a timeout, nor is it postponed. It has done a 180, though. Priorities are changing daily, yet marketing’s fundamental purpose remains the same: conveying value for your audience served up through messaging when and where they need it.
In times of crisis, silence is the worst possible response. Conversations are continuing and if you go dark, the engagement will carry on without your input. Your customers are looking for answers wherever they can find them, and being front and center can ease their pain and solve their problems. Now is the time though to be hyper-vigilant auditors of the messaging you share. No matter how timely and empathetic your content is, tone-deaf promotional pop-ups can hammer your good intentions. Double-check the entire audience journey and remove any messaging that doesn’t make sense at this time.
Keep it Constructive
Everything you send nowadays is sent within the context of a worldwide pandemic. There is no place for advertising, content, or messaging of any kind that is oblivious or unsympathetic to this filter. Put the brakes on any purely self-promotional marketing. Instead, stay focused on anticipating and serving up topics and essential content that meets the needs that are top of mind for your customers. Relate your messaging to the help you’re providing and how you are improving the situation and making life better and easier.
If you haven’t already, an audit of current content is in order. Practice mindfulness with both copy and images. Visuals are equally as powerful as the words we use and images of crowds and people touching no longer click in the minds of consumers. Even images of people working in offices might seem peculiar right now. Check for insensitive words like “killer deal” and reframe figurative marketing language such as “get in touch” to keep your message empathetic during the current, albeit temporary, new normal.
As marketers, we’ve learned if we want people to care about us, we need to first care about them. Feel their pain, understand their needs, figure out how to solve their problems. And today’s problems have had a major overhaul. Priorities are pivoting on a dime and so must our marketing and communications. Coronavirus has had a significant impact on the business community and the economy, yet there are plenty of opportunities to be there for your customers and prospects through the crisis. Keep the focus on helping people, without patting yourself on the back. Find the value you bring, even if your product or solution doesn’t directly help deal with the pandemic or social limitations, clarify your brand’s unique value in this cultural moment and share it.
Experts are reminding us of some realities pertaining to how important it is to continue marketing during crisis and recession. Industry gurus agree that an increase in marketing spend during a recession on average boosts financial performance throughout the following year. Marketing cessation also contributes to the perilous decline in consumer and business spending that can generate future crisis.
Keep Employing Basic Fundamentals
The best place to start is to take it back to basics: Know your audience. Understand what has quickly and drastically changed for them in the last days and weeks and anticipate to the best of your ability where things are going for them. And meet those needs. Help others selflessly. Be mindful of the limitations and restrictions COVID-19 has forced upon us all and respond accordingly.
You get to set the tone for how customers and prospects perceive your brand during difficult times. Hang in there and continue to show up in meaningful ways. There are marketing strategy pivots you can make to sensitively ensure you are there for your customers in their time of need. Remaining steadfast in your appropriate response to customer concerns (coronavirus-related and otherwise) can make a profound impact on people’s loyalty to your brand through this crisis and well into our recovery from it.