The marketing sector is facing a unique challenge at the moment. While the current restrictions are obviously necessary – and even a legal requirement in most cases – they have also caused unprecedented levels of disruption for clients.
Consumer behaviour and spending has also changed drastically, rendering most of our carefully planned marketing campaigns irrelevant – according to one recent survey, 55% of marketers have now been forced to put scheduled campaigns on hold for the duration of the pandemic.
As a result, we’re now having to think on our feet to find new ways to keep brands on the radar during an incredibly difficult trading period. With so much doom and gloom out there, consumers might respond well to you putting out something a bit more uplifting.
But this needs to be done with care: it’s all too easy to come across as callous if you misjudge the tone or execution. So, here are my top tips:
Showcase your brand ethics
Consumers are going to remember how brands responded to this crisis. We’ve already seen lots of companies and CEOs being held to account on Twitter and in the media for the way they’ve handled the situation, with corporations such as JD Wetherspoons and Sports Direct coming under fire for failing to take measures to help staff in a timely fashion.
Clearly, brands that have shown themselves to be consistently ethical throughout the crisis are going to have the upper hand when all this is over. So, it’s essential that your marketing campaigns showcase what your clients are doing right during this crisis. Customers will want to see and hear what brands are doing to protect staff who are working through the pandemic, as well as any measures they have in place to make the order and delivery process safer for customers.
You can get the word out and address customer queries using your social media and mailing lists, as well as by creating an FAQ section on your website. Video content and ‘behind the scenes’ photos showing safety procedures can also help to reinforce the message, and they’ll make customers feel more confident about shopping with a brand.
Publicise your charity work
We’ve already seen a huge number of brands pick up incredible coverage and traction on social media through their charitable efforts, such as Pret a Manger offering free coffee for NHS workers, or Brewdog’s initiative to produce hand sanitiser for medical workers.
We all have a part to play in fighting this virus, and brands across the UK have been quick to use their resources to help out where they can. Not only is this morally responsible, but it’s also a fantastic way to signal to consumers that a brand is ethical, as well as potentially netting you some very positive coverage in the press and on social media.
You don’t need to be a blue-chip company to get involved, either: even smaller brands can help out by donating to local causes or offering NHS discounts. So, if there’s any way that the brands you’re involved with can help out, be sure to create a publicity campaign to showcase their work. Blog posts, press releases, and social media content are all great ways to get the word out.
Focus on positive content
Lots of consumers are currently feeling the pinch financially, meaning many of your target customers are likely to be reigning in their spending, while others might simply not feel the need to make any unnecessary purchases during the lockdown. But, even though they might not be in a position to shop during the crisis, there are still ways to sustain brand awareness and ensure that brands are at the top their list when things do return to normal.
There’s a lot of negativity in the media at the moment, so one way of grabbing your target audience’s attention is to focus on positive or uplifting content. There are plenty of ways to do this, from producing uplifting blog posts, to sharing positive news stories or setting fun ‘working at home’ challenges on your social media accounts.
Engaging with customers and providing a welcome distraction from all the doom and gloom will help build brand loyalty during a difficult trading period, and ensure your business is still on their radar, even if they aren’t in a position to shop right now.
One brand that has provided a masterclass in positive marketing is smoothie brand Innocent. Its social media accounts have been posting positive content that has received a lot of engagement, from tongue-in-cheek Twitter posts reminding followers what day of the week it is, to funny challenges to keep their customers busy during isolation. The tone and humour are perfect for its brand positioning, and it’s proven that positive content can really get through to people during a difficult time.
By spreading positivity through your online marketing, you should be able to keep your campaigns going through the pandemic, and hopefully bring a bit of sunshine to people in this difficult time, too.
Jonathan Birch is the creative director of Glass Digital