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Effective (Non-Tacky) Ways to Pivot Your Messaging During COVID-19

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, organisations globally have had to fast-track alterations in their operations, marketing and branding to try and stay afloat during this incredibly uncertain time. One of the changes that have had to be made is the messaging going out to customers. Some companies have absolutely killed this, while others have flopped entirely and isolated a huge portion of their audience.
If you haven’t already changed your paid ads, or are still sending your normal mailers out, consider switching up to reach out to and engage your customer. Creating a sense of trust with your customer is vital right now. We took a look at the rules of messaging during the Corona Virus and the do’s and don’ts when communicating with your audience.

Do Not Put a Message Out For the Sake of It

Never forsake quality for quantity, especially in this time. People are spending more time at home and online now. They are actively noticing and aware of which brand is doing what. This is not the time for you to try and go viral by jumping on the trending hashtags, customers are just going to see that as tacky.

If you don’t have something qualitative to share, simply don’t send anything out. Updating your customers about changes to your services is really important. But if nothing has really changed over the five weeks of lockdown, there is no need for update mails. Rather, create a landing page that your customer can click to that provides all of the information that they need.

Focus on Educational Content

You will need to move away from the traditional marketing tactics and selling strategies to content that your customer actually wants to read in this time. Remember, the more educational and the more informative your content is, the more your customer will trust your brand. You can easily develop a loyal customer base if you have empowered them with knowledge.

Research is showing that people are feeling very overwhelmed with figures and stats. Try and stay away from that in your messaging, there are news sites to cover that. Rather create content that people can use during lockdown. If you sell pet products,for example, create blog posts on ways to keep your dog active during lockdown or how to tell if your cat is sick. You can insert CTA’s in the content to relevant products that can be ordered from the article.

Don’t Be Responsible for the Spread of Fake News

As much as sharing best practices and advice to survive the pandemic and lockdown is a great marketing tactic, it is advisable to stay away from messaging that you are unqualified to share. There has been an onslaught of false information, fake news and dodgy advice. If you can,
rather stay away from this. Not only can it be harmful to your customer but it can destroy the reputation of your brand. Allow the news sites and health authorities to educate on stats and best practices, rather stick to your expertise and merge that with what is happening.

Other Do’s and Don’ts to Be Aware Of

  • Do stop an already running campaign mid-way through to focus on COVID-19 messaging. You can always go back to the campaign at a later stage. You will be putting yourself at risk of being accused of being called tone-deaf if you simply carry on with your normal campaigns;
  • Do integrate sympathy, compassion and philanthropy in your messaging;
  • Do not be humorous about the current situation. Yes, it is important to keep light-hearted during this time, but you can easily go very wrong with your messaging and end up isolating your audience. A lot of people are living in fear and uncertainty at this time and a mis-timed message could do a lot of damage to your brand;
  • Do not send out a desperate plea to customers letting them know that your business is suffering during this. The fact is that many of them are suffering too, and might possibly not be able to buy from you for a while. It will seem desperate and attention-seeking and put people off your brand;
  • Do remember that people are doing their best to remain upbeat and positive trapped in the confines of their home. You don’t want to flaunt a filled stadium, or a crisp beer on a beach. That will simply create disconnect with your customers.
  • If you are still providing services to your customers, do be open and transparent about what measures you are taking and how you are protecting them. Also be very transparent about what is going on. If one of your staff members retss positive, it is in your best interests to be communicative about it and delve into the measures you are taking to control the spread.

Brands That Have Won at COVID -19 Messaging

In the last few weeks, we have seen brands kicking up their marketing efforts and pushing out content and messaging that has wowed. Not only have they been sensitive to their customer base and the circumstances they are facing, but have done so elegantly and cleverly. Other brands, like some of the car brands have not altered their advertising and are still insensitively encouraging people to take that trip and go on that adventure. A few clothing brands in the US have openly been criticised for punting their wears for that perfect outing to dress up for.

But in saying that, most brands have altered their advertising to show unity with their customers in this time. KFC, for example, ditched their “Finger-licking good” phrase for messaging that touted their contactless delivery. Nike has encouraged people to play inside with the well-crafted messaging: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance.” Coca-Cola, created a simple, yet highly impactful message, as seen in the image.

Last Thoughts

The best messaging to convey right now is personal, empathetic, simple and smart. Know that a large portion of your customers are going through a trying time right now, and adapt for that. The more you connect with them, the more loyal they will be to you when things start balancing out again. Lastly, don’t forget to rest and track your campaigns. Use the time to make changes if it isn’t going well and keep your customer in mind at all times.

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