March 27, 2020

Fight Virus With the Right Brand Messaging

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.

Marketers no doubt face many challenges in the months ahead as the new coronavirus spreads like a wildfire across the United States.

As a small business marketer, consider putting at the top of your list what the bigger companies already are doing: Assuring your customers that you will be here for them — not only during the good times, but during the bad and the ugly times as well.

You most likely have seen plenty of this messaging already as you tend to that burgeoning inbox that’s already packed with missives in your work-from-home climes.

Every utility and insurance company with which you do business most likely has sent you a message that begins with a phrase like “In these times of uncertainly …,” or “In this ever-evolving situation …,” or “It has been an extraordinary few weeks … .”

Before you tell yourself “not another one,” though, you should note that these businesses through their email marketing are giving their customers what they need to hear, while also being cautious with their company tone.

These “premium agency pros,” as Kristen Ruby, the CEO of Ruby Media Group, calls them, “will know now is the time to pause and reflect.”

Writing recently for Adweek, Ruby says: “Unless you are a medical professional, tread lightly with the content you put out. This means doing a total 360 on your social media marketing strategy. Now is not the time to share the beautiful creative you had prepared 90 days out. Save it for another day or another quarter.”

Instead, she advises, “Ramp up your customer service on social media. If you are in the travel sector, people will be tweeting at your brand for refunds or cancellation policies at a higher volume. You must be prepared to service these requests with your social media team.”

Marketers also should focus on the importance of community during these dire times, says another analyst, Nicole Perrin, of eMarketer.

“Communities must come together to help vulnerable populations stay safe and equipped with necessities,” she wrote last week.

“‘Cooperation’ and ‘understanding’ are the watchwords of the month. So, if you roll your eyes at that next email, try to remember that it’s probably important to someone else who’s wondering whether a product or service they regularly use is going to be available — or potentially endangering workers and consumers.”

You may have noticed, or at least we have, that your regional convention and visitors bureaus are steadily dispatching posts across their social media about which local restaurants are now offering pick-up and delivery services — along with such details as where and when.

These CVBs are letting their restaurant community know that they care, but they’re also letting the community at large, now in this sudden search for food, know that their local CVB cares as well.

Says Perrin of eMarketer, which has been closely tracking the coronavirus and its effects on marketing: “It’s a challenging moment, and many companies have had to make tough choices about whether to continue operating and how, with email marketers challenged in turn to get those messages to customers at the right time, with the right words.

“Look at it this way: There is an influx of brand emails being sent, but at least you have plenty of time at home to clean out your inbox.”

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