Whilst it may seem a lifetime ago, it was on the 23rd March that Boris Johnson addressed the UK, saying that "from this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home." As we entered into 'lockdown', businesses either implemented home working practices or made the difficult decision to temporarily pause operations.
What started as a 3-week exercise soon became an extended measure, with many businesses having now been closed or working from home for 8 weeks. During that time, businesses have had to reassess their spend and we've seen many examples of companies pausing their marketing activities whilst they are closed, vowing to return when they reopen everything is back to normal.
However, research shows that consumers don't think businesses and brands need to completely stop their marketing and advertising efforts. Plus, it is now clear that there we need to operate in a 'new normal'. If businesses want to remain at the forefront of their customers thoughts, they need to continue / restart communication with them, albeit with a slight change in message.
Adapt, Don't Stop
In a global study by Kantar, only 8% of the respondents felt that companies should stop their marketing and advertising whilst we tackle the coronavirus outbreak. This shows businesses that consumers are clearly aware of the need for them to continue to maintain an ongoing presence during the current crisis.
What is also interesting is what consumers think businesses should be focusing their marketing efforts on. Results showed that 75% of people believed brands should inform people of what they’re doing during the crisis and 74% think companies should not exploit the situation.
These statistics show that consumers are looking to hear from businesses and they should try to resume or continue with their marketing efforts. What is also shows is that there is an expectation that communication shouldn't try to appear as though it is 'business as usual'. Everyone is aware of the ongoing challenges and they want to hear from businesses who understand that.
Here are a few things to consider when creating marketing content during these uncertain times.
1. Communicate with empathy
The last few weeks have been difficult for everybody and brands that use this time to be commercially exploitative will probably not benefit in the long run. When creating your marketing communications, create content that focuses longevity and wellbeing rather than a 'we're still here and selling' message.
A great message to communicate is what you are doing as a business to stay safe. Have you set up home working for your staff? Share that with people! If you have been unable to keep your business open, have you been helping out in your community? Great, tell people how you've helped. Sharing these types of messages reinforces trust in your brand and you as a business.
2. Consider your channels of communication
In the current environment there has been a massive shift in the way people are consuming information and interacting with businesses. Back in March, Facebook reported they were seeing huge increases in users accessing the platform, and other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have also seen surges in usage numbers.
With increased reach, engagement and time spent on social platforms, begin your marketing efforts by starting conversations with your customers there. Focus on producing content that adds value in the current situation.
3. Be Adaptable
It is important through of all of this to remember that the situation and environment you find yourself working in is extremely changeable. Whilst it is almost always better to be proactive with your marketing activities, the chances are you will be working in a reactive manner whilst the situation constantly evolves.
The last thing you want to do is plan out and schedule your marketing content for the month, for it to become insensitive or irrelevant because of
Marketing Campaigns to Inspire
Now we know that when uncertainty and disruption creeps into a business, one of the first things to suffer is creativity. A common reason for businesses turning off the marketing tap is because they aren't sure what to say. That's why we have found the inspiration for you.
If your business has gone radio silent during the last few weeks, maybe these examples of businesses continuing to speak to their customers will encourage you to restart your marketing activities.
1. Stag Barber
This is a great local example of a business who have continued with their marketing efforts through social media, even though they are going to be closed for some time.
With barbers and hairdressers closed until at least July, Stag know they are going to be closed for a few more weeks. However, there 'Kutz 4 Key Workers' campaign has been a brilliant way of engaging with their clients whilst they are closed. Clients send in photos and videos of their 'DIY haircut' and nominate a key worker to receive a free haircut when they are able to reopen. It's a fantastic campaign that shows their support for local key workers and lets their customers know what they are doing to help.
2. IKEA UK
IKEA stores across the UK were one of the first businesses to close during the coronavirus crisis and they turned to social media to keep in touch with their customers.
Through their Instagram Stories, store staff members have been recording a series of videos to help people whilst they are stuck indoors. This includes how to guides for creating home office spaces, ideas for projects to do with the family and videos on exercises to do to take care of your well-being. Whilst you may think it is easy for IKEA to continue their marketing activities as they will have a huge budget, their marketing spend on campaigns like this will be very little.
3. The Cooperative
As an essential business, Coop stores across the country have been open and operating as normal (with the usual social distance rules applied). As a business who are continuing to run, it would have been very easy for them to continue with their schedule marketing activities and not change the way they communicate with customers.