Context is a crucial determiner in everything we do as agencies and brands. Aside from making sure the very people we work with are taken care of and are safe during times like these, how we respond to crises helps shape the collective experience we put out to our customers and potential market demographic. So when something as massive of a circumstance such as COVID-19 takes place, it’s integral that we’re able to address the issue with diplomacy, cautious marketing, and above all, empathy.
That being the case, both brands and their marketing teams face a unique roadblock in executing existing and scheduled campaigns. Needless to say, many initiatives and sales materials will have to be modified to better accommodate trying times and digital trends.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or an established business. As an acknowledged contributor to society, you’re going to have to make sure your brand aptly adjusts as necessary. That said, we here at Fountain Forward whipped out a few things we feel will help your business today.
Here are vital guidelines every marketer has to remember during a crisis
While it’s true that every brand caters to different audiences, consider these approaches as a basic blueprint as to how businesses of all sizes can make the best decisions, and avoid insensitive mistakes.
Now is not the time to hard sell
When you’re in the business of selling—whether what you sell is ideas, services, or tangible products—the question you should avoid asking yourself now is “how else do I make more sales?” Instead, ask yourself, “given the nature of my business and the heart of my brand, what is the best way I can support my customers?” Zeroing in on profits amid COVID-19 won’t benefit your brand at all. In fact, it may even hamper your business’ reputation.
For instance, many global brands today have voiced out their support in funding front liners, medical research, and displaced members of society. Everyone needs help, and today really isn’t the time to think about raking up more money. We’re in strange times, so you may want to assess how you want to keep putting out what your business puts out to stay relevant. The support your business extends doesn’t have to be as grand as your contemporaries, but know that your audience is watching. Sponsoring aid for a group of people—whatever sector they may belong to—can do your brand wonders, not just for PR purposes, but for help in general. Once all this fades and the world is in a better light, people will remember what your brand has done. And trust us, you want to be remembered well.
Emphasize how your business can offer aid
Every entrepreneur and business leader knows that brands are expected to deliver value. So if your business happens to be incredibly advantageous for those stuck in quarantine, communicate your brand origins.
Talk about your products’ or services’ benefits.
Does your brand produce products that help keep people busy at home? Does it improve, in one way or another, work-from-home arrangements? Does it allow the capacity to further lessen face-to-face encounters? Bank on your business’ unique proposition and potential, and clarify how you’re here to help.
Produce useful content
Let’s say your products or services don’t technically fall in the quarantine-help category. As a business person and marketer, you’re still obliged to remind your audience that your business exists. Think of helpful content you can stretch out for social media. What kinds of brand-related content can you produce for your audience members to consume while in quarantine? What message can your brand keep putting out that’s helpful for your demographic? How else can you maintain, if not sensitively boost, customer engagement?
Just because what you put out as a brand isn’t entirely what people need at the moment, doesn’t mean you have to stop marketing.
Be positive, but avoid toxic positivity
Just so we’re on the same page, toxic positivity is when you avoid talking about acknowledged oppression and injustice, just because you feel like your business is obliged to talk only about good things. In a time when things are uncertain and unstable, talk about the grim, but don’t over amplify the bad. Neglecting negative events can make your business look ignorant—certainly not a word you’d like your brand to be associated with.
What is your brand vision?
Always go back to why your business existed in the first place. Surely, you’re in it for the money; we all are. But what is the very essence of why your brand had to come about? What was the message you wanted to extend when you were still building your brand? Go back to your brand’s vision, mission, purpose, and values. Use them as a compass to remind yourself what your business embodies, and ask yourself how you can better further your message and address COVID-19. Lean towards personal stories, too. Heartfelt tales seldom flop when done right.
Use emotions to your advantage. Have you ever noticed that brands that do so well on social media are those that bank on swagger, sarcasm, and vulnerability? Studies say humans are more receptive to personable businesses. Meaning, your chances of relating and reaching your audience are heightened when they see your brand as a personality, as opposed to a business. No one likes capitalists, let’s be honest. The image you want to build is one that’s both accessible and reliable—and you only get that when you utilize storytelling that appeals to emotions.
Never forget your employees
There’s a huge chance your employees are tweeting about how you’re treating them in all of this. Create online employee activities and ask them how they’re doing. You can organize all the donation drives you want, but unless your own people are safe and well-fed, you’re not getting anyone’s empathy. True help means taking into account how your people are doing.
Ask them to post photos of their meals, or make them list their top 3 Netflix suggestions. Your office culture isn’t limited to the confines of your building. True branding begins with your team, so make it count.
Improve your online content
It doesn’t matter what department you belong to; everyone’s online now. Because people are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distancing, we’re all likely glued to our phones and computers nearly 24/7. As a result, you can be confident that’s where your audience is.
Increase your social media efforts, and try to produce as much content as you can. Of course, we’re not telling you to oversaturate your digital efforts. What we’re saying is you need to be more visible on the internet since that’s the only way people remember your brand for now.
Create polls, ask questions, make relevant memes, share music playlists. Be as personable as you can be. Ask yourself: if your brand was a human being, what movies would he or she watch? What music would they listen to? What fashion advice would they give? These are fun things you can work around with your marketing team. Come up with creative content, and keep the conversations flowing.
Overall, your brand can never be successful in a time like this if you personally don’t have the heart to help. All these are effective pieces of advice, but if it isn’t in you to make sure everyone’s all right, performative, and sane, you’re missing the point.
Do you have any points you think we missed? Let us know in the comment section! Want to have a complete conversation with us? Contact us!