Right now the CoronaVirus is the elephant in the room and businesses are wondering whether to tiptoe around it or to capitalize on it. The number one rule unless you are sending out information on reduced hours/closings/etc. is to NOT mention it. In fact, the only reason I’m mentioning it here is because people have asked how to handle the messaging, and it’s a tricky subject.
Your business can’t ignore that times are different right now. Events are going from live to virtual, trips are being cancelled, kids are staying home from school; restaurants, theaters and hotels are ghost towns. We are living in an unprecedented time right now and it’s okay to acknowledge it, but you can do that without mentioning the virus.
I’ve seen thousands of marketers in my online groups cringing at ads and messages from businesses that are talking about COVID-19 in the wrong way. I’ve seen constant posts from my consumer friends saying how they are unsubscribing from email lists that send out their own version of information or twist on the CoronaVirus. Digital companies have sent out emails saying things like “don’t worry our team has always worked remote” etc. There are important messages coming through from people’s schools, places of work and government on the virus, and their messaging should not be muffled by millions of others who are trying to seem relevant. There is a time to newsjack and there’s a time not to touch it with a ten-foot pole.
So, what can you do instead?
You don’t have to ignore the elephant in the room. There are lifestyle and business changes happening that you don’t need to tiptoe around. In fact, if you are in a position to help solve any of the problems, please help. We are all in this together.
1. Offer to help without expecting anything in return.
People are going through hard times. There are many in the hospitality industry who’ve already been laid off. Parents are trying to figure out how to juggle working from home with kids running around them. Children are adjusting to learning at home. Employees are adjusting to fewer hours or remote work environments. If you can genuinely help people by sharing advice, tips, or services that’ll help improve their lives in some way, do it. But like some companies have demonstrated already (as an example Zoom offered a free pro version of their video conferencing tool for teachers) don’t expect anything in return. It’s not about what you can reap from these times, it’s about how you can help people through them. If your business benefits from the relationships you build in the meantime from doing the right thing, then great! But don’t go into it expecting anything in return.
2. Craft your message that has to do with COVID-19, away from COVID-19 and towards pain points
Do you want to advertise a board game people can play at home while they’re cooped up? That’s okay. People are going to need at-home entertainment alternatives. Just don’t mention the virus. Mention the pain point: kids being bored, parents needing something to entertain the family, etc.
3. Be sensitive.
We all know there are lots of funny memes floating around that we might chuckle at on our personal pages. Those should be reserved for your personal pages only and not your business pages. As businesses it’s best to show empathy at a time like this. If you have a personal brand, show the real you. Are you scared? Are you at peace? Feel free to show your vulnerabilities because people connect to REAL people.
Marketing is going to change in more ways than simply messaging over the next month. If you are a business that is struggling right now because of the current market and need guidance on what measures you might need to take in your marketing, feel free to message us. We’re happy to help bounce ideas around about what might come next, and what you can do.