When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. In early to late March, everyone might remember receiving tons of emails from companies addressing the pandemic and attempting to sympathize with their consumers. This was the start of pandemic marketing. There were some great lessons in that moment in time for marketers. Some of them include: how to connect to your audience with their new life situation, how to connect without sounding fake, and how to look to the future in a practical manner.
This pandemic in particular, had the big change of adjusting to life in quarantine. Most people do not live in isolation from others, so this was the biggest and most notable change to everyday life that also set off a domino effect of multiple other changes. For many, this meant the change to managing and working remotely or even being laid off. Within a few weeks, millions of people went from seeing coworkers, friends, and family everyday to seeing no one in-person for weeks or months. This presented a new situation for marketers, especially for marketers whose industries may have been completely changed or paused. How do we market products and services that consumers cannot use?
During any crisis, especially one that is of the magnitude of COVID-19, it is important for almost every company in every industry to address the situation. Many companies decided to initially address the situation through email first–– because it’s fast, efficient, and personal for sending out your company’s unique message and their unique role during a pandemic. But in order to move forward, marketers have to think deeply on their buyer personas and adjust them to how their living situation has changed. This will require critical thinking skills as well as research.
Social media may just be your most effective tool at this time. With most in-person interaction on pause, people are looking to social media to connect and stay up to date. This surge in audience attention on social media will generate new leads if your marketing is done correctly. The inbound marketing approach will be really helpful here in engaging your audience on social media. The personal, one to one connection that social media marketing provides is invaluable at a time like this.
One of the biggest problems a marketer will face during a crisis is communicating your brand’s message without sounding inhuman or unsympathetic to your consumers' situation. Marketers must understand that it can be upsetting or even infuriating if they see your “sympathetic message” as just a hard sell for your company’s product. It can be seen as exploitative and inappropriate. Instead, it may be wise for you and your brand to separate your messages between COVID-19 response messages and regular marketing. This applies to other crises, movements, and significant world events as well. Consumers are building brand loyalty, now more than ever while quarantining; it will be much more valuable to establish our brand as an ally during challenging times rather than use a pandemic as an opportunity to do a quick sell.
Once your company has addressed the unique challenges that your buyer persona is facing during quarantine, use what you have learned to reach out. Then, let your consumer know how your product provides value during these challenging times.
It will be much more valuable to establish our brand as an ally during challenging times, rather than use a pandemic as an opportunity to do a quick sell.
The other part of marketing to consumers in quarantine is thinking deeply on how your product can be of service to those in quarantine. There are several categories that your company’s product may fall under, unless your product is an essential good or service, your product likely has had to change its marketing to adjust to consumers' new situation.It will be much more valuable to establish our brand as an ally during challenging times, rather than use a pandemic as an opportunity to do a quick sell.
Six months into the pandemic, many consumers are looking for a return to normalcy. However, do not mistake this for meaning a return to the way things were before because it is important to face the fact that things, especially in the marketplace, may never be the same again. Instead, focus your marketing on how your product will build the new normal and build toward the new future.
While uncertainty in the future is certain, consumers can find comfort in knowing that their favorite brands will be there to get them through.
In every industry it’s important to look ahead, but it’s even more important in marketing–– especially during a pandemic. Right now consumers are looking for answers of what their future may be, and while we should not pretend to know what the future will look like exactly, our marketing can guide people towards a brighter future from these dark days. While uncertainty in the future is certain, consumers can find comfort in knowing that their favorite brands will be there to get them through.
In a practical sense, let your consumer know what new advancements, new products, or expansions are coming to your company. Phrases like “Coming Spring 2021” or “Coming Next Summer” engage consumers into keeping tabs and staying connected to your brand for months to come. It also lets your consumers know that your brand is stable and you are not going anywhere anytime soon.