The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up our lives, personal and professional. And, for our generation, this global health crisis might be the first of its kind. Governments across the world are struggling to contain the spread of the virus. The lockdowns, job losses, closures and uncertainties have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. It is definitely not a happy time.
But the bigger elephant in the room is the impact of the Coronavirus on the economy and changing consumer behaviours. In the midst of the pandemic, marketers and PR agencies find themselves walking the right rope. Should companies jump in and be part of the conversation? Or would it be best to become silent spectators and keep away?
That’s the real test of the time. And, the world is watching. How marketing agencies handle the crisis is what might set them apart from the rest.
Honouring your Purpose
Many brands align themselves with a particular cause, social, environmental or otherwise. However, in the bid to make more money, we often lose sight of it. This might be the time for brands to discover why they truly exist. We’ve come a long way since when people only looked to a business for a quality product at a reasonable price. Customers expect you to keep your promise and deploy the right actions at the right time.
Brands must go back to the values, beliefs and purpose that define their business if they are to remain relevant and successful. This is the moment for brands to make a mark, by extending support across and within communities and showing that they truly care. For that is what it counts for. Generally, in moments of crisis, people look up to corporates to do what politicians fail to do. We’ve seen brands making every effort to appear empathetic and involved. Above all, be authentic. Keep the profit out of it. It is morally wrong to capitalise on people’s fear to raise revenue for your business.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, a lot of brands have had to withdraw their scheduled campaigns. We agree that’s thousands of invested dollars lost. But, as a brand and as an individual, you cannot continue with branding the way you had planned to like you don’t care for it is happening around you.
Scheduled marketing strategies are definitely not the option here. The time calls for going back to the drawing board; rethinking marketing strategies, rewriting and repurposing campaign content, rescheduling posts and tweets. You need to be mindful of the content you are putting out there. While a little humour is always welcome in ordinary times, the same during a pandemic could come across as tone-deaf.
Keep the balance
The web is flooded with news updates. Since the outbreak, we, as consumers, have received countless emails from brands, some good and thoughtful, while others are simply promotional. In the desperateness to get visible and contribute to the conversation, brands often make the unforgivable mistake of latching on to a news piece for marketing or promotional purposes. The intention might be good, to keep customers informed and aware. However, there are possibilities for the action being misunderstood. It may not go down well, resulting in a backlash. It can cause irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation.
You want to make sure you reach to people without overdoing it. Speaking at the wrong time will only draw flak. And, it is also perfectly okay to remain silent if you have nothing valuable to contribute to the conversation.
We all have a responsibility towards society as individuals, institutions and corporations. If you have the resources, you can extend support by creating campaigns that help others. This could be something as simple as providing essential goods or services free of charge to sections of people who need them but don’t have the means for it. You can also show solidarity and appreciation by offering branded freebies to all those working on the frontline. If you own a business, you could offer discounts at a time when money is short. Not just that, there are the old and sick, who may have been rendered helpless due to Covid-19. You can volunteer to pick and deliver groceries to those who physically unable to do so.
There is a lot you can do if you are willing to do it.
The last word – No one should exploit the global health crisis as a profitable marketing opportunity. It would reflect poorly on brands who do not live up to the purpose of any brand which is to find a place in the hearts of people.