Tips For Responsible Marketing During A Pandemic

We’re nearly halfway through 2020! Can you believe it?! And it’s safe to say that this year has already presented us with more unique challenges than any other.

The Covid-19 pandemic has required many different restrictions, around the world, including changing the ways we do business. So we’ve put together some tips for responsible marketing during a pandemic. Because chances are you’ve never had to keep them in mind up til now.

As a brand, you’re facing unique challenges in these tough times. You have to ensure the safety of your employees, your customers, and keep business afloat. At the same time, there’s a broader social responsibility to keep up to date with how to mitigate risks. 

Your brand may have a particular identity. But the risks associated with Covid-19 have made us all realize, more than ever, that no brand operates in isolation. As we continue to see what the impacts of the pandemic will be, it’s important to bring empathy and tact to your campaigns. Be mindful in your marketing and take into consideration how your customers needs are shifting. 

So, what can you do to stay relevant during the impacts of Covid-19? And how do you approach marketing during a pandemic?

Be Sensitive To Your Customers’ Needs

In the face of a pandemic that brings about much uncertainty, it’s a good idea to err on the side of sensitivity. Most brands prefer to do their advertising in a very conversational and happy tone. Under normal circumstances, this can be the best voice to reach any category of customers. But at present, depending on the particular ad campaign, it could come off as uncaring and insensitive.  

Try to incorporate how you’re supporting your customers into your messaging. For example, by mentioning the different ways in which they can still purchase your products or access your services safely. 

When it comes to your headlines, consider copy that speaks to the new norms everyone is facing and how you’re looking to support them through that. This could be by offering delivery or curbside pickup. Promotions and discounts to help manage costs. And/or more options for reaching out to customer service for support.

While copy that speaks to urgency and limited options can drum up some FOMO, that’s not what you want now. You risk sounding like you’re trying to exploit a tough situation if your messaging is too salesy. Focus on content that is supportive and inspiring. Add some humour, if and when it’s relevant. And take some time to re-evaluate the imagery you use in your campaigns as well.

Try to avoid images that show social gatherings, office environments, and events. And consider going a bit more abstract to convey, hope and strength in your pictures.

Don’t Capitalize On The Crisis

Grabbing every opportunity to increase brand awareness or move customers through the funnel is the sign of a good marketer. But some lines should not be crossed. A crisis is here, and people are nervous. Whatever you publish at this point should be very well thought out. And not just in your ad campaigns, but with every touch point you have with customers.

For instance, make sure that your website has updated content regarding customer support and any new processes. And make sure that your social media calendar is full of service updates and encouraging messages. Keep your customers updated on the steps you have taken as part of your Covid-19 response. This includes store closures, or reopenings, special delivery services, new operating hours, and rules to be followed in stores.  

You can also incorporate any information that would be helpful to your customers in general. This could include advice from public health officials, or tips on how to take care of their mental and physical health. When you share this kind of information, be sure that you’re referring to reliable sources. And that your designs use imagery, colours and messaging that’s associated with trust and positivity. 

Avoid any kind of clickbait, at all costs. Don’t add fuel to the fire just for some publicity. Your audience may be inclined to click on content that has a sensational headline, but at what cost? You won’t be engaging or helping them. And that’ll do more harm than good as far as building relationships with your customers.

A Note On Positivity

When people are surrounded by negativity, a bit of positivity from their favourite brand can help. But this positivity should come from a place of knowledge. Otherwise it will come across as out of touch and tone deaf when you’re marketing during a pandemic.

Some words you may want to use in your headlines and copy include:

  • Contribute
  • Connect
  • Play a role
  • Navigate
  • Cope
  • Respond

And on that note, some words and phrases you may wish to avoid are:

  • Killer
  • Viral
  • Contagious
  • Infectious
  • Don’t miss out
  • Before it’s too late

In general, aim to be more on the serious side, but bear in mind that that doesn’t mean grim. To make your ideas relatable, turn to your team. Ask about what they’re doing to tackle boredom and the challenges they’re facing. Working from home is new territory for many of us. And working from home during a pandemic is new to all of us. Tap into this to gain insights that will make your content timely and relevant, sensitive, and positive. 

If ever there was a time to share the human side of your brand, it’s now. We’re all in need of a bit more connection. And as a brand, you can support and fulfill that need for your customers.

Keep Planning, But Expect Uncertainty

No matter how much we’ve tried to convince ourselves otherwise, 2020 has made it crystal clear: we won’t be predicting the future anytime soon. But we can adapt as we go. 

Testing different types of ad copy, content, and creatives will be more important than ever, as you learn how your audience’s needs and interests are evolving. As will trying out new platforms and avenues to reach your target audience.

For instance, YouTube is a great platform to explore right now as more people are flocking to it to stay informed and entertained. You can set up a channel and share content. And you can also explore advertising via YouTube as well.  If you’re interested in strategies for Facebook and Instagram in particular, check out these ideas from Wordstream.

Stay agile. Don’t aim to have concrete agendas and priorities. And reevaluate more often, to ensure that your strategies and plans are yielding the results you need. On this note, keep an eye out for resources to help you build and develop a stronger content strategy.

There are a ton of live workshops and webinars being hosted. To help you stay on top of this, join email lists of knowledge sharing organizations and subject matter experts that are relevant to your industry. And join industry-specific Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Keep Emphasizing How Your Brand Can Help

You may not be in the health industry, but this is a unique time in which businesses in every industry can step up in different ways to support their customers. 

If you have a unique value that can add something positive to those in isolation – now’s the time to act on it. Consider centering some of your campaigns around that unique value. And you can also find ways to help with your content, too. Use your owned media (your website and social profiles) to educate, inspire and entertain when you can. 

In a trying time like this, none of us have all answers on the best approaches to marketing during a pandemic. But we can keep trying different approaches to help our customers out until we can move beyond this. In the meantime, your business goals don’t have to change. But adapting your marketing can help you achieve them better in the long run.