In times of crisis, brands can either help or hurt our collective experience. When something impacts the world as drastically as COVID-19 has, brands should address the issue with tact, empathy, value-add, and mindful marketing strategies.
Context is key for marketing during a crisis. Marketing teams should re-evaluate current and planned campaigns and adjust communication approaches. Every brand is different, but there are some basic guidelines that can help marketers make the right and appropriate choices during a crisis.
Here are five considerations for marketing during challenging times:
Adjust marketing campaigns and planned content timelines
Some brands take a risk by quickly producing new content for a specific moment – for example, Ford recently swapped its vehicle ads for a Coronavirus-response campaign. But this method isn’t realistic for most brands.
Instead, you should audit what content you have running and what is in your pipeline. Decide what should be paused immediately and push back campaigns if you’re not sure the content will be appropriate or relevant as people’s mindsets and current initiatives have changed. You don’t have to scrap the campaigns altogether, just reserve them for when things are back to normal. Consider how you can adjust your existing content. Maybe you can move some items up, adjust your messaging, or add a CTA as simple as lending a helping hand to those who might be in need.
This content break can give you an advantage once the crisis subsides. Take this time to prepare fresh content for the next cultural moment. Stay on top of the quarantine advisements in the private lending area, so you can be proactive in communicating with your clients as things change.
Evaluate imagery and language
Think about the message your brand is sending through visuals and word choice. For example, avoid visuals of crowds, people touching, and people working in offices. If you have current or future campaigns with visuals that might not be appropriate, revise now or push the campaign back to later in the year. In the same vein, re-frame marketing language that describes close interaction, like “work hand-in-hand” or “get closer to your borrowers.”
This doesn’t mean redoing your whole website. We’re speaking about “push” content, which means the content you’re actively putting out – e.g. emails, advertisements, and social media posts. Visitors will be more forgiving about pre-existing content and brand elements like your logo and homepage.
Don’t capitalize on the crisis
This rule is especially important in times of tragedy and fear. Your goal is to keep people informed. Clients and Partners expect to hear from brands about measures like policy updates and closures related to COVID-19. However, don’t be an alarmist. Be aware of dramatic language and be careful about additional information you’re sharing (e.g. make sure news sources are credible and up-to-date).
Be mindful of your tone. Do not promote “COVID-19 sales.” Remember that many people are out of work and are uncertain about their futures. Any communication during this time should have a tone of humility and empathy. Even if communication isn’t offensive, if the tone is off, it can be perceived as clueless.
Be positive, but not ignorant
You don’t need to meet a grim cultural moment with a grim brand tone. Look to your purpose, mission, vision, and values to remind yourself what your brand stands for, and what that means in a crisis. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side.
Lean into human stories and offer well wishes. Imagery of people smiling and living normal lives doesn’t have to be offensive. In fact, it can inspire hope for the end of quarantine. During the last recession in 2008, many brands released campaigns promoting optimism, hope, and empathy, like Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign.
Create employee-generated content to spotlight your people and your culture. What are your team members watching on Netflix? How are they staying healthy? What are they doing to keep things light? What has helped them to be effective while working remotely? Use this quarantine to show your brand’s human side.
Highlight how your brand can help
Think about how your brand’s products and services can help during this stressful time. What can you do to enhance people’s lives while in quarantine? Communicate your benefits and create helpful content. Even if your brand doesn’t directly help people during a crisis, how can you inspire them? If you keep your focus on your clients, your marketing doesn’t have to stop.
Remember: this won’t last forever. Although no one knows exactly when the quarantine will end, we’re expecting it to be over sometime this year. In times like these, we remember that marketing isn’t a life-or-death practice. But being proactive and thoughtful, and feeling like we add value to the world, is meaningful.
If you’d like to learn more about how Geraci can be a resource for your marketing during this time, we’d love to schedule a free consultation to discuss these tips. Reach out to Geraci Media here.