By Scott Stevens (Guest Author), on 11 December 2020
While coronavirus has thrown everything into uncertainty, being at the forefront of a business gives you the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the kind of content that you are producing and the kind of messaging you are sending.
Changing your marketing approach slightly can make your work better reflect the state of the world right now, and can avoid some potentially costly, and damaging mistakes. Here’s some tips you can use to spruce up your content marketing in the age of social distancing.
8 Pandemic Content Marketing Tips
1. Joke and Brevity
The first thing to note is that if your usual advertising tone is on the lighter side; full of jokes and levity to make your target audience more comfortable, then this is most likely not the right approach for the current situation.
Puns about coronavirus can be especially damaging to a brands reputation, but so can a general feeling of nonchalance. Try to convey to your audience that you recognize that currently, advertising must, in many ways, take a step back. People are more focused on their lives, their loved ones and the incredibly uncertain future. Making a mockery out of this in any way is likely to be disastrous for brand image.
However, this does not mean that there is no room for trying to find a silver lining. It is possible to show customers that you both understand and sympathize with them, while also trying to provide something positive for them. This is a difficult balance to strike and should be approached carefully.
3. Hard Selling
Similarly, if your business is not an essential service, then your advertising should back away from urgent and in-your-face marketing. Aggressive messages in advertising campaigns can be a turn-off for the same reasons mentioned before: nothing is more important right now than the pandemic.
Don't try to put your business before that by telling people that they simply have to buy your product; it gives off an impression of your company being out of touch. Instead, try to frame it more as a contribution to peoples’ lives.
This can be combined with the previous tip about finding a silver lining. If you can frame your product as being a silver lining in these incredibly challenging times, then this can really improve the publics’ perception of both your product and your overall business.
It is, however, important to not overpromise when it comes to offering the public a temporary relief from the stress of Covid-19. An ad campaign that tries to ‘put your mind completely at ease’ may be a mistake, since it promises much more than most companies could possibly deliver. Engaging your customers on an emotional level is always important but keeping any promises on a smaller scale is going to keep your campaign grounded. This ultimately makes the company seem more relatable, which will attract more potential leads.
5. The Future
A good approach could also be to look beyond the pandemic entirely.
Focusing explicitly on the virus may even date your campaign. Think of the best adverts of all time; Apple iPod, ‘A Diamond is Forever’, or even any of the Coca-Cola advertisements that everyone pictures whenever the word 'cola' is mentioned. Not one of them focuses on issues that were occurring at the time. Not one of them feels stuck in its own time or limited by the cultural zeitgeist. Not one of them feels dated.
Continuing to think outside the box with your marketing, while simultaneously keeping in mind your customer base, will make your ad campaigns stand the test of time and keep people interested in your product.
Of course, this does not mean that your advert will exist in a cultural vacuum. An advert which does not reference coronavirus but instead gives a message of hope and community could be great at any time, but incredibly effective in such difficult years when isolation and mental health worries are growing.
Again, this would have to be written carefully and intricately: striking a balance between being uplifting and pandering.
6. Promotional Considerations
Another important aspect of an evolving marketing campaign is showing off your exclusive offers, competitions and free products. This kind of advert content should also be heavily altered for the pandemic. For example, if you are designing an advert for a restaurant and your most popular offer is a reduced price when 8 or more people dine out, then this would be entirely wasted in a time where social distancing has become so important.
Instead, you could offer free delivery when people spend over a certain amount or offer free samples of food in return for them providing contact details. Both of these examples would be more appropriate currently and would show potential leads that your company is thinking about their customers first and foremost.
7. Take Your Time
Finally, you should make sure that as a business, you don’t get overwhelmed by any of this.
Don’t attempt an overnight upheaval of your entire campaign in an attempt to appeal more to those affected by coronavirus, as this will ultimately make any adverts you put out seem rushed and even incoherent.
Take your time to carefully think and modify your adverts in the ways we have described here. Keep on track without burning out or falling behind.
Standards should always be maintained when advertising for a business, since any decrease in content quality will be noticed immediately, be it either via bad press due to a particularly insensitive ad, (think Pepsi's misguided take on the Black Lives Matter movement), or even a subtle depreciation of your companies value in the publics eyes.
8. Staying on Top
All of the points that we have raised here should be applied in a precise and calculated manner, always considering the customer base and the particular nature of the product in question.
Advertising and marketing are so important for any product and therefore your approaches should be carefully focused; even the best of times.
In an age when no-one is certain of the future, this care must be doubled to maintain the company image and ultimately, provide your product to a population who is living each day as it comes.