During the current world crisis, many businesses are struggling to survive. And many brands are wondering how — or even if — they should continue certain marketing efforts. In fact, recent data compiled by Influencer Marketing Hub revealed 89% of advertisers have altered their efforts due to the coronavirus, whether it was pre-launch of a new campaign, in the middle of a campaign, or a pause for the entire rest of the year.
With this in mind, we’ve asked digital marketing experts whether marketing is worthwhile during the crisis, how brands can strike the right tone for their messaging, and what the goal for marketers should be during tough times.
The Role of Marketing During Crises
“Marketers are on the front line of the economy,” said Jaime Punishill, CMO of Lionbridge. Businesses need to keep going, and it’s up to marketers and sales teams to generate revenue even during tough times. “With that in mind,” he continued, “we’re focusing our marketing on driving short-term wins.” Such steps could be anything from social media posts to PR outreach.
“Long-term needs still matter,” Punishill continued, “but they’ll also still be there.” He believes brands should be focusing their campaigns on the immediate concerns of their clients and audience, as most companies are in survival mode and aren’t putting long-term plans in place. “Show your customers you are there for them now, just like you were before this pandemic and just as you will be after.”
Alexander Jutkowitz, CEO of SJR believes it’s also the role of marketing teams to surface untold stories about how stakeholders are responding to the pandemic. “Stories can cover how a company’s clients are reacting to and mitigating effects, how its supply chains are rallying, or niche ways in which its values, services or products are relevant to the issue,” he explained. Compelling stories from how employees are transitioning to working from home can also be genuine sources of content to spread awareness and build a more human brand image.
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Striking the Right Tone
Getting the tone right in an environment where nearly everyone is working remotely becomes even more challenging. “Everyone has been socially distant for months,” said Alex Plant, VP of corporate marketing at Delphix, “so shift your tone to one that is conversant, empathetic and human.” Brands need to find a way to rise above the emails their audience is getting inundated with and speak with them on a more personal level to understand their pain points.
“As opposed to working on more in-depth, long-term campaigns and strategies, by marketing directly to the needs our clients have right now,” explained Punishill, “we’re saying, hey, we are in this same moment with you, we too are focusing on the now.” It’s critical that brands make their audience feel like they're all going through tough times together, and messaging that doesn’t recognize this could feel cold and push potential leads away. “Use a simple, honest and clear voice in all communications,” Punishill said, “and be there.”
What Should the Goal Be for Marketers?
“It’s a great time to engage audiences,” said Plant, “if you can, drive conversions through the funnel.” At the same time, marketers shouldn’t forget that people have increased stress due to the pandemic. Listening to your audience and helping them overcome challenges now can lead to greater outcomes down the line.
“Every company has been impacted by COVID-19,” added Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder & CEO of inPowered, “and consumers are looking for brands to communicate in a clear, honest and truthful way.” That’s why he believes brands need to continue putting out engaging and empathetic content even if the day-to-day analytics don’t look promising. “Consumers have a genuine need for these new answers they’re looking for, and companies have the opportunity to forge long-lasting relationships with their audiences that will be remembered far after the pandemic is over.”
“Be careful not to forget that while you can use recent events to open new doors with companies who may need your services more than ever,” Plant added, “don’t forget about your existing customers.” Loyal customers may need you during this time, and could present even more opportunities to drive expansion that may not have been considered before. The pandemic is impacting everyone differently, and it’s a great chance to experiment. “Be respectful,” Plant concluded, “but it’s also ok to laugh.”