COVID-19: Marketing action to take right now

This article will give you strategies, tips and ideas about what you can do to pivot right now.

KW2 has rapidly helped our clients in public health, higher education and business services change course in communications during these early weeks of the crisis. We see three phases to this:

Reaction. Reset. And recovery.

First, everybody communicated a reaction phase, where they reacted to how COVID-19 altered their organization, and simply told their audiences basic information, like if they were still open, working remotely, and communicating any changes to products, services and hours.

Now after two weeks, communicators shifted to a reset phase where organizations have reset strategies, altered messaging and provided new relevance and value to their audiences.

What to do now: reset

Here are some to-do’s that you and your team can implement to reset your communications in order to better connect with your audiences and their changing needs and lives. After you initiate any of these ideas, be sure you know how you’ll measure success, and how you’ll revise your reset as those metrics are reviewed by your team.

1.    Your strategy

Evolve current strategies or create new ones to show value that’s meaningful and helpful right now.

2.    Your audiences

Review and revise customer journey maps, user personas and social media listening to better fit changes in audience needs, habits and behaviors. Consider looking at how to connect with entirely new audiences. A Gartner study of marketing leaders on 3/20 showed 62% of them are turning to third-party research sources for audience insights.

3.    Your messaging and tone

Ensure the context of your messaging and tone connects by being authentic, reassuring, helpful or caring.

4.    Your digital communications

Review your digital communications plan. Traffic and conversions are down in many industries, but up in select others. And digital communications has grown with B2B brands looking to stay in front of audiences in light of events, conferences and seminars being cancelled. Extend paid search, high performing ads, and push your remarketing. Review and revise automated marketing and social media content to ensure that it’s relevant, meaningful and not outdated.

Reset examples

Here are some examples from organizations who have reset their marketing and communications .

Reset messaging: staying at home

The Oregon Health Authority created a campaign to stay at home and protect the heroes who are helping us most right now.

And Burger King in France showed folks how to make a Whopper at home.

Reset messaging: being helpful

Kimberly-Clark brand Cottenelle will donate a dollar to United Way’s Worldwide COVID-19 fund when people use #ShareASquare in social media. They said, “Instead of stockpiling, let's stock up on generosity. We believe our consumers have no shortage of kindness, so we trust they will #ShareASquare and help us on this mission." Great messaging, and a helpful cause to support. And yes, they say they’re working day and night to ship Cottenelle.

Honda changed its longtime theme The Power of Dreams, to The Power of Something Greater. Their new :30 offers reminders that we’ll get through this by being helpful and caring for each other.

Reset production: lo-fi tactics help you move quickly

Video, broadcast and other production tactics have gotten leaner. The basics of great editing, typography, audio and design can make the simple powerful. Animation is growing as a tactic

Detroit has been hit hard by COVID-19. So Doner, the Detroit ad agency, made an inexpensive, yet very compelling video with an excellent script touting the message that there’s strength in staying at home. The last line is just great.

Reset creative: zigging to the zag

A cooler manufacturer making video meetings look better? Why not. New realities call for creative ideas. Like Yeti, the cooler manufacturer, offering backgrounds for your remote working meetings.

What next?

We see the final step in the crisis being a recovery phase, with organizations understanding what the longer-term picture looks like for them, and their audiences. This is what we’ve seen in China, for example. After two months of working from home and their curve flattening, ad agency employees are gradually returning to the office, according to Ad Age. People are getting outside of their homes more now, and beginning to create their new normal. Once those patterns establish themselves, communicators will adjust to long-term recovery strategies.

If you can, you should

So what’s the worst thing you can do now? Doing nothing. This is the time to be seen as a good citizen. This is the time to remain relevant, creative and not hide, as stronger brands and organizations will be remembered and weather a comeback better than weaker, quiet ones. Show up. Make a difference. Solve new problems. Sometimes organizations are judged more when things go wrong compared to when things go right. So now more than ever, we communicators need to be there for our people.  

A Wisconsin P.S.

If you’re looking for opportunities for you and your organization to help out those in need through volunteering in Wisconsin, check out Volunteer Wisconsin.

And supporting your local businesses helps us all now, and in the long run. So here’s an ever-growing list of Wisconsin restaurants offering take out.