Best Practice Marketing During Covid-19
Covid-19 is unlike anything that has ever been seen before. In the space of little over a month, the majority of economies in the world have been shut down, for how long, nobody knows. Job security is fast becoming a foreign concept in light of the number of job losses, on both a temporary and permanent basis. Faced with ongoing market uncertainty, consumers are looking to maximize their spending dollar. Marketing must adapt to capture the limited consumer dollar. Brands need to look for ways to make themselves stand out from the competition. The sting in the tail is, of course, brands must do all this while the consumers are under lock down. Social media must become the core of the engagement and the engagement must be empathetic and seek to build a relationship with the consumer, to gain their trust.
Target Social Media
- Many companies have already suspended the media marketing budget, limiting the channels available to marketers considerably. This means the channels available are limited to email or social media. Email has a personal touch, but has not universally been well-received. With consumers getting emails from any brand they've ever engaged with, and the content being remarkably bland notes about staff hand washing or cleaning processes, patience is wearing thin.
- Social media presents the best practice. Social media has been a part of most companies marketing strategy for some time now. The events of recent weeks have seen social media become increasingly saturated, with users looking, in many ways, for reassurance regarding what is going on. For companies and brands, there is no better time to refine their social media presence and maximize the opportunity
- There is a considerable amount of research that shows that brands that have a presence, respond to questions, and generally make life easier for consumers, can make significant gains in the market. It is the first step in building a relationship based on trust.
- Obtaining the trust of the consumer is the aspiration of most companies, due to the benefits that come with it. The pandemic offers a unique opportunity for brands to show consumers why they should trust them. Make no mistake, the rewards when a consumer trusts a brand should not be underestimated.
- The chance to engage with the consumer on a personal level that social media offers is an opportunity that should not be missed. It sows the seed of a long-term relationship. However, the channel is only part of the issue, the message must be refined if consumers are to engage.
- Data from Twitter reiterates this as best practice, with a noticeable increase in the number of consumers looking to social media for their information, and for social interaction. Brands that are taking advantage of the opportunity that social media offers include, National Geographic, who have mentioned in passing that all COVID-19 articles or information is now available free, and Chipotle, who just asked people to hang out with them.
Create Empathy and Aim to Improve Things for the Consumer
- Brands should focus initially on providing appropriate, relevant and informative content. It is important that consumers are aware how the brand is operating given the pandemic measures currently being enforced.
- Once they have the attention of the consumer, posts should move beyond the typical account, posting promotional, educational, and organizational highlights. Brands need to communicate through their messaging, in an empathetic tone, how the brand can improve things for the consumer.
- It is not a hard sell, it is a supportive, empathetic role, one that will stick in the consumers mind and create positive memories regarding the brand when lock down is a distant memory. This is an opportunity to give the brand a human face, to act in a way that shows consumers they matter. The key — be creative.
- This general principles have not changed, what has changed is the need to emphasize how the brand can improve things. By being empathetic and reassuring, brands are engaging the consumer and increasing brand recognition and loyalty. Recognizing an issue and offering a solution that improves things for the consumer will not go unnoticed in the long-run, nor will the brands that remain silent and don't engage in any way.
- The content should also be respectful. Avoid images of people socializing, large groups of people, weddings, all the things that are not possible for large portions of the population currently. Those images have the potential to create resentment from consumers. The content and its tone are used to
- Mobile phone companies in Italy were the first to seize upon the idea. They gave their customers unlimited data to help with the monotony of lock down. They gave them a means to stay in contact with friends and family.
- Slack is a company, that has employed this approach. They take on the role of reassuring and mentoring company owners, who are dealing with employees working from home. It is not a hard sell. Slack introduces resources and other useful tips, before providing the website information. The frequency and number of messages is limited. They have had a positive response with increased rates of adoption.
To determine the best practices in marketing at the current time, we reviewed a range of industry publications and expert opinion. We identified two of the best practices based on the discussion that they had generated and the fact a number of the leading players had implemented them into their marketing strategies.