The Do's and Dont's of Marketing in a Pandemic
COVID-19 and its restrictions have drastically changed how many businesses operate and their customers purchase from and interact with them. As such, marketing in a sensitive yet effective way can be difficult to navigate in these uncertain times. Read on for some handy pointers on how to approach these decisions in the climate of COVID-19.
DO: Keep your stakeholders updated and address issues in a sensitive matter
If your business is affected by the pandemic, your various stakeholders will also be impacted. Consider your customers, suppliers, staff and communicate the changes they might be affected by. This will demonstrate your transparency and honesty, prevent them from feeling like information has been kept from them, and give them time to prepare for any changes. It’s important to also keep in mind that for this is a seriously difficult time for many, so make sure that you continue to be tactful and communicate what you need to in a balanced, down-to-earth manner.
DON’T: Use the same messaging and communication for all stakeholders
The messages and channels you use to best communicate with your staff and customers will probably be different, so take this into account when informing these groups. Tailor your approach to what is most relevant to them and on the platforms that will most effectively reach them. For example, customers are best reached on social media but you might want a more private and personal approach for your staff, especially if it is a sensitive matter. It’s also important to consider which messages are relevant for which groups. Some might overlap (for example, changing trading hours will impact both staff and customers), but there will also be messages that are not applicable to other groups.
DO: Check any planned campaigns or posts and make changes where necessary
Double-check any recently posted or planned future campaigns and check that these are not insensitive or irrelevant to the current climate. For example, imagery with big crowds of people or promoting traveling might need to be removed or written in a different way, depending on restrictions. In a product-focused campaign, make sure that the product being promoted isn’t in short supply or no longer available. This could cause frustration in customers and have your brand come across as being out-of-touch with its customers.
DO: Consider how people’s buying habits might have changed as a result of the pandemic
Restrictions have changed the activities people can do on a daily basis. With more time spent indoors, what people are doing for fun, the type of clothes they wear and perhaps even the kinds of foods they’re eating have all changed. Furthermore, as a result of many workplaces closing, people may not have as much disposable income. In terms of marketing, this is important to take into account when choosing which products to feature in your campaigns or even in the way you write copy.
DON’T: Assume people are consuming media in the same way they were pre-pandemic
With people having more time to spare and spending less time on the go, it’s clear that the way we consume media has changed, with an overall increase in media consumption, from watching TV shows and movies on streaming services to messaging, social media browsing and listening (to podcasts, music and radio). These trends can be examined to create content specifically tailored to take advantage of these new habits.
DO: Focus on the positives
Let’s be real, a pandemic and all the negative results that come with it can be truly overwhelming. So why not try and bring some positivity to those around and connected to your business through your marketing? Think about what kind of cheerful content you can put out in the world, whether directly related to your business – like celebrating a new menu or small successes during this weird time – or taking part in a silly TikTok challenge to simply spread joy.
DON’T: Take a victim stance or try to pass blame if anything negative does happen in your business
In a pandemic, it’s a real possibility that your business may become involved in an outbreak, even if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions and it’s really through no fault of your own. However, it’s important not to become aggressively defensive, as this will just reflect badly on you and your brand. Instead of playing the blame game, what’s important is to look forward to see what could be improved upon to prevent another similar situation.
DO: Put people ahead of profit
A little bit of philanthropy goes a long way, especially at a time where everyone is doing it tough. This can be as simple as giving your producers, suppliers, or neighbouring businesses a shout out and message of support. Or, if you can, go the extra mile and provide some assistance to both regular customers and the wider public, whether this be discounts, payment plans, free resources and information or meals.