This crisis may have left you wondering: ‘is marketing morally appropriate or even worthwhile at the moment?’

In a recent survey of 35,000 customers by Kantar, only 8% believed brands should stop advertising. 78% felt brands should find ways to help them with their day-to-day lives, and 74% stated that businesses shouldn’t exploit the crisis.

According to Edelman, 64% of UK customers claimed that a brand’s response to the pandemic will have a major impact on their future purchasing decisions.

So keeping communication going is clearly important and the better question becomes how best can you support your customers during this crisis? What positive, proactive things can you do to help your customers in this period of difficulty? Here are a few thoughts to help guide you and hopefully spark some creative ideas.

Understand the current mood

As we know, tone-deaf marketing does more harm than good, so it’s important to make sure you understand the mood and communicate with sensitivity.

Industry-leading market researchers, Edelman recently released a special version of their renowned Trust Barometer Report: Trust and the Coronavirus. There’s a great deal of information in this report, but the summary is that you must ‘do the right thing’ and maintain trust:

  1. Show up and do your part – don’t be invisible
  2. Don’t act alone – look for collaboration
  3. Solve, don’t sell
  4. Communicate with compassion

Take a look at this neatly compiled selection of US advertising. It was created a few weeks ago, the messaging is reassuring and empathetic, but… I’ll let you judge.

Focus on your brand purpose

Stay true to what your business does and find creative ways to support your customers. Simple examples… bread shop, offer delivery… a fitness trainer, do classes over Zoom… we’ve all seen some great pivots. Can your business offer something?

Take, for example, David Owen Accountants, a long-standing client. Since the pandemic hit, they’ve produced freely available resources including a Covid-19 business support guide, an informative blog post, and frequent updates on Twitter. These efforts are authentic because they fit neatly with their brand purpose and are genuinely helpful. 

Coronavirus planning

Provide reassurance

You need to let your customers know what you’re doing from a practical point of view. Reassure them by communicating the essentials, for example:

  1. Your website’s homepage should draw visitors’ attention to a banner or dedicated page displaying updated information regarding your response to coronavirus. 
  2. Your blog should feature a detailed post or message outlining your approach. 
  3. If you run an e-commerce site, update content to reflect the real-time availability of products.
  4. Edit your Google My Business profile to reflect any changes made to opening hours, contact details, and operations.
  5. Keep your customers informed of new developments and relevant content via email and social media.

Adapt your existing marketing

The pandemic may require you to adapt your existing strategy and content. Reappraise both, ensuring your tone and messaging fits with the new reality we’re all facing. 

As Ipsos stresses, empathy is key. Rather than dropping off the map, brands should join the conversation. Think about what your customers might be going through, how they might be feeling, and what their new concerns might look like. From here, you can tailor your marketing accordingly.

In terms of long-term brand health, going quiet can do more harm than good. Strong brands are built on strong relationships with customers, so be present and be proactive.

Embrace digital transformation

The pandemic has fast-tracked the inevitable shift towards digital marketing. Since the outbreak, 53% of Brits say they’re spending more time using their smartphones/mobile phones, 35% on their laptops, and 24% on their tablets. Virtual services are more welcome than ever before. 

The surge in digital activity is unlikely to reverse once things go ‘back to normal’. While you may not be in a position to invest in extensive restructuring at this point, a window for ideas and planning has opened.

Consider how digital resources could be harnessed to better support your customers. If your business centres on face-to-face consultations, could you take these virtual? If you sell your products or services in brick and mortar locations, why not start to support it with online sales?

Use your resources for good

Your customers understand that your businesses may be facing hardships too – when surveyed, only 28% in the UK strongly approved of brands running promotions for customers in light of coronavirus. However, an expectation for brands to do their part remains:

  • 43% expect an offer of free delivery
  • 45% want key workers to be offered discounts
  • 40% want longer timeframes for refunds

You may consider donating to personal causes or freely offering your services to those in need.

Get creative with your content

Free, high-quality content that informs and amuses always holds strong appeal. From engaging blog posts to videos and social competitions, there are plenty of ways to communicate with your customers and add a little insight and levity to their day-to-day. 

Our client Cheverell recently posted a piece on transforming the kitchen into the perfect home office; Roebuck Estates, another client, has been sharing feel-good shots of natural beauty from their farm and vineyard, along with offering free delivery for their delicious sparkling wine. What can you share?

So I hope you found this blog helpful and informative. If it’s sparked any ideas and you’d like to chat we’re offering free advice during the pandemic, just drop us a line.

Good luck, thanks for reading and stay safe out there!

Written by. Richard Jaggs

Richard Jaggs