When a crisis like COVID-19 occurs, marketers must change their current plans and goals. A lot of what worked well just last month now feels irrelevant at best. In the organization that I work for too, my colleagues and I faced new challenges to get our jobs done. It’s still a work in progress, as marketing always is, but along the way, I’ve figured a few things out.
Find your purpose and answer the big question
The big question is how to market solutions while striking the right tone. No one is in the mood for a hard sell — and no one has much time to listen. But I’m fortunate to work for a customer-led company, so we center our marketing on this purpose: working to solve clients’ problems while fostering trust among all stakeholders.
This is something very specific that can address your immediate problem and increase your employees’, customers’, and communities’ trust in you. Even in a crisis, that’s marketing that will resonate with people and get them to listen.
Show empathy and kindness
We’re all under a lot of stress, so using empathy to guide us is key. That requires customized marketing, because usually, we’re dealing with a huge variety of company’s profiles. They’re living in completely different worlds right now, and the company’s marketing has to reflect their individual challenges.
That empathy is just as important internally. My colleagues and I have had to abandon campaigns and turn on a dime to create new ones, at speed, and at scale.
I’ve always tried to be an understanding colleague but have tried to become even more understanding now. I too am shut up at home, working some of the longest hours of my life, but still, I think is important to have our 30 min call to check on each other and set the right mood for the day. We’re in this together.
Here are some practical tips
- Apply multiple lenses – To identify and address clients’ problems, while fostering trust among all their stakeholders, take a multi-lens view: With the help of technology, collect, analyze and share primary research on business and community trends from the points of view of executives, employees, and consumers.
- Do more with less – Nearly everyone is facing budget cuts. So, also be hyper-focused as to which activities will function today. If you then execute creatively, making maximum use of technology, you can be more effective than ever.
- Put yourselves in clients’ shoes – Many clients are facing a whole new world — and budget cuts too. Recognize that they may need to adjust their spending and areas of focus. Think long and hard about their new circumstances before you start a campaign.
- Talk to your team. Your team is facing new demands and ways of working. Both are still evolving. Talk to them early and often, and encourage them to talk to you. They need to know where the team is headed, what their roles are, and that you’re listening to them.
Get ready for the day after
This crisis may feel like it has changed everything, but in some ways, it has just accelerated marketing trends from before. I expect, for example, a permanent shift to more flexible and more virtual work. I expect to keep on ramping up our technology investments, not just to automate more, but also to help my team and I make smarter marketing decisions. I also aim to never forget what I’ve learned about my clients’ and co-workers’ courage during this pandemic — and I intend to keep feeling and showing empathy for all the challenges they face.