We’ve been through the wringer these past few years – Brexit, natural disasters, the pandemic, and war to name a few recent crises. More than ever before, the horrors taking place are broadcast on a world stage and are mixed in with day-to-day marketing. Our personal lives have certainly suffered and as a business owner you might be wondering: should you change your marketing in times of crisis?
The short answer is yes, your marketing should change. Firstly, because businesses have a corporate social responsibility to have a positive influence on the world. Secondly, because marketing in times of crisis can feel distasteful. Putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer, you don’t want your business to come across as insensitive or ignorant.
Let’s look more in-depth at how you should go about changing your marketing in times of crisis.
Observe your customers
As with most of your marketing decisions, it starts with your consumer. What is your data telling you? Have buying habits changed since the start of the crisis? Perhaps more importantly, what are your customers saying online?
You might find that the last thing on your customers minds is to make a purchase. Particularly for a luxury or entertainment item. It’s tough doing something that’s a treat when you know others are really suffering. Equally, they might need light escapism or a way to look after themselves or their families.
What’s crucial here is that you are still assisting your customers. After all, the core of every business is helping your audience solve their problems. How can you be of service in this situation?
Adjust your messaging
It is a good idea to acknowledge the crisis with your customers. This is an opportunity to display empathy and genuine support. The relationship between a consumer and a business should be more akin to a two-way street rather than one-way traffic.
Your messaging needs to reflect this now more than ever. How can you be sensitive and avoid alienating people? Review all of your outward facing communication and social media content. Is it still relevant or does it need tweaking?
Perhaps your tone of voice is friendly and kind, or stern and formal – both of these can still work when speaking on serious topics.
If something needs to change about the way your business is run, ensure this is communicated. For example, many businesses transitioned from in-person events to online events during the first lockdown.
It’s important that businesses are responsive to world events and adapt accordingly.
Go back to your business purpose
Time to go back to basics. What problem is your business solving for your customers? Also look at your vision, mission, and values to inform how to approach marketing in times of crisis.
For example, Adobe’s mission statement is “to move the Web forward while also giving Web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world.” From the start of the pandemic, Adobe granted 30 million students access to Creative Cloud globally – this response speaks to the mission statement. The businesses' compassion was clear to see in their marketing too and their #HonorHeroes campaign.
Look at what’s right for your unique business
The route you take through marketing in times of crisis must remain agile with ever developing situations. What will stay the same is your approach – avoid following other businesses as they will inevitably have a different set up.
Generally, in terms of promotional content, I advise 20% promotional content to 80% useful and educational content. You might find that the promotional content needs to decrease further during a crisis. The priority is supporting your customers and ensuring your business has solid foundations that withstand change.
There’s no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to marketing in times of crises. Working out what suits your target audience should be your focus and take action from there. What I can say for certain is that staying silent or continuing your marketing as usual is not the right way to go – customers and prospective customers will remember your marketing during a difficult time.
I hope this look at ‘should your marketing change in times of crisis?’ was useful. If you crave support and clarity from a highly experienced, independent marketing consultant who can advise on what you should and should not be doing, help you establish and grow your business and attract the customers you deserve, please GET IN TOUCH.