Tips for Responsible and Smart Marketing
Beyond the most basic actions taken to help protect businesses and employees during crises, brands will either help or hinder the collective experience. When a cultural moment occurs and dramatically affects the world, as it has during the COVID-19 pandemic, brands must address this issue with a sense of tact, mindful marketing, and empathy.
With that in mind, when it comes to existing and planned campaigns, modern marketing teams face unique and often unplanned challenges during the Crisis. Even though it is still early during the quarantine process, many businesses are already adjusting the way they communicate with clients and customers. With that in mind, you can find some general guidelines here for marketing your business in this unusual situation.
Adjust Scheduled Content Timelines and Marketing Campaigns
There are many brands that can create fast-turn campaigns designed for a specific moment. An example of this was Ford when vehicle ads were swapped for a campaign focused on the Coronavirus response. While these are impressive, there are some prohibitive risks that make this type of war-room action unachievable and unrealistic for most businesses.
The first step for a brand to consider is what is currently running or in the pipeline, including pre-scheduled content that is set to launch soon. During this audit, consider the following:
· Determine what to pause right now
· Consider what to pivot or prioritize
The good news is that taking a break from content may provide an advantage after things get back to normal. Right now, it's a good idea for you to prepare for upcoming cultural moments (i.e., post-quarantine) and figure out what content will be most impactful and relevant then.
Evaluate the Language and Imagery Being Used
There's no question that visual communication is powerful, along with the words that are used. It's crucial to think about what type of message your brand is conveying. Some things to look at and consider changing include:
· Remove or avoid the use of visuals where people or crowds are touching
· Reframe your marketing language that may describe a close interaction with others
· Swap out your visuals if needed
Take some time to see what changes you can make that would be beneficial to the Crisis right now.
Don't Try to Capitalize on the Crisis
This applies to any crisis or tragedy, but it is especially important to remember in the existing climate where fear and worry are top of mind. While it's a good idea to keep people informed about how the Crisis is affecting the business, make sure you aren't spread panic or become an alarmist.
When it comes to marketing through this Crisis, keeping the tips and information herein mind can be invaluable. Being informed is the best way to ensure you make it through this Crisis unscathed and that your customers see your efforts during this difficult time.
Steps to creating a responsible digital marketing campaign in the wake of COVID-19
Adjust marketing campaigns and reassess scheduled content timelines.
The first step that an organization needs to accomplish is to audit the digital content that is currently in the pipeline for the next few months by:
a. Decide on what should be on hold immediately.
Major brand launch campaigns need to be pushed back. This does not mean that the campaign should be canceled entirely just because several campaign elements are not appropriate in times of crisis. The campaign can resume once the outbreak subsides.
b. Consider which campaigns to prioritize or pivot.
Be strategic in mapping out your organization’s digital marketing campaign in times of uncertainty brought by COVID-19. As such, consider moving some things up in the pipeline for the interim or look for some ways to help pivot messaging that can help in disseminating the health crisis response plan.
Carefully evaluate the brand’s imagery and language.
Visual communication is a powerful tool, especially in times of uncertainty. Be mindful of the brand’s message by:
a. Avoiding visuals of crowds that do not promote social distancing.
This includes images of people working and huddled together in the office or social gathering of families out of their homes.
b. Rephrase marketing messages that connote close interactions.
Even figurative languages such as “get in touch” or “work hand-in-hand” may be deemed inappropriate, and it can be deeply scrutinized by consumers.
Again, Don’t capitalize on the crisis.
In any kind of tragedy or crisis, it’s important to remember that organizations should not profit from the market’s anxieties and fear. Here’s how you can do it right:
a. Keep stakeholders informed.
Brands need to actively communicate with their stakeholders in times of crisis. Relay proactive measures and inform consumers about the organization’s COVID-19 response plan as promptly as possible.
b. Don’t be an alarmist.
While keeping people informed is necessary, it’s also important that organizations do not add to the panic. Be mindful of the brand’s messaging and avoid overly dramatic language that will only add to the consumer’s anxieties.
Be positive, but do not be ignorant.
People naturally become uneasy during a health crisis. Organizations do not need to feed into that negativity with a grim and harsh tone. Here’s what you can do instead:
a. Look into your brand’s core values for guidance.
Use your organization’s core values to remind yourself what your brand stands for. Let your brand’s core principles set the tone on how you will connect and speak to your audience.
b. Be human.
Avoid sending perfunctory and robotic messages during a health crisis. The organization does not need to strip the brand of its personality just because there’s a crisis. Remember that organizations can still offer well wishes and good vibes without being offensive or insensitive.
Highlight how your brand can help.
Brands exist to provide value to its consumers. Tell stories about the brand that can enhance the lives of consumers while they are on quarantine by:
a. Communicating your benefits.
Tell a story on how your brand can share its potential value in times of crisis.
b. Creating helpful content.
Even if your brand does not directly help people while they are on quarantine, you can still create immersive content that can entertain, educate, and inspire people while they are at home.