Financial instability. Anxiety over the possible loss of loved ones. The strain of prolonged isolation.
It’s unlikely that any of us escaped the coronavirus pandemic entirely unscathed. It’s been an incredibly difficult and trying time for virtually everyone. Unfortunately, it seems like many brands still haven’t gotten the memo.
Some of them tried to pretend it was business as usual. Customers were bombarded with typical marketing copy and advertising campaigns. Refusing to even engage with the pandemic carried with it the implication that it – and the suffering of their audience – was unimportant.
On the other end of the spectrum, others hopped on the COVID marketing bandwagon. We’re all in this together, they told their audience, and we care about your struggles. Unfortunately, a lack of clear effort and personalization made this messaging come across as wholly insincere.
Both approaches fail because they lack one crucial component: empathy.
You need to understand what your audience is going through and acknowledge it with your messaging. Focus on connecting with your customers on a personal level rather than trying to sell your products to them. Relationship-building was already important for successful marketing before the pandemic; it’s only going to grow more important in the coming month.
There are a few stages in this approach:
- Start with buyer personas. Who is your audience? What do they value? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their hobbies and aspirations?
- Ask questions. Talk to your audience. Connect with people who’ve left positive or negative reviews to see why. Make it clear that you’re always open to customer feedback, and most importantly, listen.
- Know your own values. What morals matter to your organization? How can you inspire good and promote positivity in a way that aligns with your business’s brand?
- Leverage emotion. Focus on positive emotions like happiness, nostalgia, and triumph. People have already dealt with enough fear, uncertainty, and angst throughout the pandemic. Don’t try to play on those negative emotions simply to make a sale.
- Communicate, don’t sell. Your goal here is to give something valuable or positive to your audience. If they decide to buy your products or services afterward, that’s their decision. They shouldn’t feel pressured to do so.
- Don’t tear anyone down. Focus on the positive elements of your brand or industry. Again, you want to stay away from overt negativity here.
- Show you understand. Demonstrate to your audience that you know them and care. There are many ways to do this, such as a how-to they’ve been asking for, an advertising spot that shows real, human footage, or a vow to donate a portion of your proceeds to charity. Focus on ways you can make the lives of your customers better.
People are tired. Amidst all the fear, uncertainty, and angst suffered at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic, they have little patience left for manipulative or predatory marketing efforts. If your brand is incapable of demonstrating empathy, you will end up paying for it – both in the short-term and the long-term.