Americans live in a constant cycle of crisis. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen around the world, every day brings new developments that fill people with feelings of fear, sadness, anger, and fear, creating a challenging marketing climate.
In an ideal world, companies and customers would communicate in a good mood. However, today’s shoppers have a case of the blues with bad news. You are bombarded with exciting stories and pictures every day. In return, many salespeople are exposed to immense economic stress and uncertainty.
Brand trust was low even before the pandemic. Now marketers have to work even harder to create engaging and effective campaigns that will both build trust and lift their audiences out of the doldrums.
Navigation in a crisis climate
Some companies have reacted to the coronavirus crisis with obscurity. According to a March 2020 survey, nearly 25% of CMOs said they delayed their paid marketing efforts because they didn’t want to be accused of capitalizing on a crisis for corporate profits.
Most companies continued to market their products and services through coronavirus-specific campaigns. These companies share similar goals – creating messages and offers that convey a sense of comfort, security, hope, and security – but their outcomes have been different. Some initiatives are real attempts to help customers cope with the crisis. others sound hollow as nothing but lip service.
For example, AT&T responded to the pandemic by extending discounts to companies that continue to operate. Businesses wishing to purchase AT&T World Connect Advantage can do so for half the original price for a limited time. In the meantime, companies working with remote workers could use Cisco Webex Meetings through the carrier and route calls over AT&T IP Flexible Reach to workers’ cell phones and landlines.
In times of bad news, the error rate is low. Companies can easily see through campaigns that try to create a false sense of security. Companies need to be authentic when reaching out to their audiences and they need to keep their promises.
Countering crisis fatigue
When managing campaigns during a crisis, marketers need to recognize that different populations experience different realities. For example, recent Forrester research suggests that Gen Z are significantly less concerned about the coronavirus pandemic than baby boomers. In addition, people who live in virus hotspots are more pessimistic about the future than people who live in less ailing areas. B2B marketers may find a cross-section of these two demographics in their target audience and modify campaigns accordingly.
Today’s economy and society are packed with a multitude of polarized opinions and emotions, which makes it particularly difficult for brands to write marketing messages that are massively attractive. Rather than trying to unite and inspire audiences through general huntings, marketers should focus campaigns on how their brands are uniquely positioned to help businesses overcome the long-term consequences of the pandemic.
The following three tips will help marketing teams create successful campaigns against crisis fatigue.
1. Embrace agile marketing
A rapidly changing environment requires agile marketing. Teams that typically spend months designing and launching campaigns have to cut their schedules drastically. Short sprint campaigns help companies ensure that their marketing initiatives remain relevant and effective over time.
Agile also helps brands better prepare for the future. Marketers can create and queue a series of micro-campaigns that will be launched as the pandemic develops and milestones are reached.
For example, a team could be proactive in composing messages about the eventual lifting of social distancing guidelines. It could also prepare for a worst-case scenario: a campaign targeting a second wave of coronavirus that is causing additional shelter-in-place orders.
Staying flexible gives marketers the freedom to read the space and adjust their approaches.
2. Forget about perfection
Agile marketing is all about continuous learning and improvement. Teams that strive for perfection must therefore change their mindset. The goal should be to start a campaign quickly, monitor its performance, identify problems, and then incorporate insights into the next campaign.
This test-and-learn method enables brands to use real audience feedback to guide their campaigns and develop messages that have a demographic impact.
3. Adjust the tactics, not the strategies
It is important to distinguish between “marketing strategies” and “marketing tactics”.
The strategy – corporate identity, voice and long-term goals and plans – should remain consistent in times of crisis. The tactics – the channels, media, and messages marketers use during a marketing campaign – should change over time as new information becomes available.
Business customers are looking for solid and consistent leadership during the coronavirus crisis. They don’t want their favorite providers to suddenly change their strategy and deviate from their core identity.
In addition, a company cannot be agile in adjusting its marketing strategy. It takes time to develop a new mission, vision, and goals – and companies don’t have much time now. By maintaining a consistent strategy, marketing teams can quickly switch over while continuing to look for alternative tactics.
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Successful marketing during the coronavirus crisis depends on the marketing teams’ ability to adapt on the fly. America’s emotional and economic climate is changing day by day – as is shopping habits.
This is an uncertain and challenging time for all of humanity. Businesses struggle to stay positive and productive while caught in a constant cycle of bad news. Still, now is not the time for marketers to go dumb. Instead, it’s time to create authentic campaigns that will make a real difference for business customers.