Should you mention COVID-19 in Marketing communications?

Everyone around the world has been affected in some way by the coronavirus. If you open your phone to the news app, social media, your email, or literally anywhere else and scroll- it’s right there. Talking about COVID-19 in marketing communications can be tricky. It’s important to acknowledge the struggle and the current state of the world- but also to offer hope, honesty, and give your audience something else to hold onto.

I did a deep dive into “should you mention the coronavirus” on the internet and even had to sift my way through the topic on a few blogs. I came up with some tips and tricks that I think will help you navigate this topic. The main takeaways are: be honest, be unique, and be positive!

Know your audience

The first step in figuring out what to say- really think about who you’re writing for. Is your target market customers who live in major metropolitan areas who have had heavier restrictions? Do they love to travel and need inspiration? Are they mostly people who are likely to have been furloughed and/or laid off? Think about what they are going through and shift your messaging to really reach them.

Mix and match the content you publish. You can still focus on sales but add in some messaging about the new normal. Switching it up can show that you are aware and care about the current state of the world and help keep your feed feeling organic and interesting. See what influencers and others are doing during this time for more inspiration.

Adjust your tone, images, and messages

One of the biggest things to avoid is to act like nothing happened. Something did and we all know it. Don’t keep going with your marketing as if we are all still hopping on planes and enjoying happy hour with the whole office. Shift messaging where need be and keep your tone upbeat and honest. A lot of brands are shifting to a new way of looking at the same products.

  • From “shop at our store” to “check out our online boutique” and “shop from the comfort of your home”
  • From “stop in for happy hour” to “treat mom to a delicious meal from her favorite restaurant. You set the table- we’ll do the cooking!”
  • From “where are you traveling to next?” and “join us for this amazing event” to “enjoy this travel inspiration” and “turn your home into a mini vacation destination”

The possibilities are endless and can still help you stay top-of-mind to your customers. Inspiration, options at home, and ways of encouraging community (even a socially distanced one) can really help you stand out.

As we begin to emerge in this new normal it could be vital to communicate to your customers how you plan to keep them safe. Using positive and clear messaging is the perfect way to let them know you’re taking it seriously.

Panda Express has done an amazing job with this online. From their “we wok for you” messaging on their website to these awesome posts on Instagram they’ve got it down!

Take a stance- in a positive way

If you want to take a stance and use your platform to promote staying home or wearing masks- you can! Just make sure your message is still positive and doesn’t target anyone. This amazing campaign by Nike is a great example:

Nike: Play Inside, Play for the world

Nike created this striking ad and even came out with their own landing page for the content. It highlights at home workouts and their top products to purchase for working out at home.

Don’t ignore the virus

Some brands are wary of even talking about the coronavirus. If you are not comfortable adding the terms pandemic, coronavirus, or COVID-19 into your communications that is completely ok. It’s still important to remember your customers are affected by this and you don’t want to appear insensitive by acting like nothing is happening. Try talking about the new normal or focusing on positive things that have come out of sheltering in place for a twist on your marketing. Without directly mentioning the virus you can use positive phrases like this:

  • We’re in this together
  • We’ve got your back
  • Connect virtually with us
  • Your safety is our priority
  • We’re inspired by you!

You can also openly write a letter to your followers and customers. The honesty will likely be well received and inspiring. Some brands are posting notes from CEO’s and share holders while others are doing quick animated messages on social media. Whatever works for you will be impactful! Some amazing examples of letters to customers are from Nordstrom and McDonalds.

Upgrade your digital presence

Last, but certainly not least, make sure your digital presence is optimized. The last thing you want is for someone to click to your site and then get frustrated and head to your competition instead. Your digital storefront, virtual customer service, and e-commerce optimization is all incredibly crucial right now. Invest in making sure everything runs smoothly now and when we start to open back up you might even be surprised how much this helps your business in general!

When optimizing your website and digital presence you might also consider including a COVID-19 landing page or pop up box. This is especially helpful if your business has been directly impacted. It will also be crucial as you alter your operations when reopening to full capacity. However you wish to communicate the changes you’re making due to the coronavirus make sure you are clear in your messaging and your customers can find this information easily.

Big Commerce said it best, there’s no playbook for this. Be smart in your choice of words and content and know that people are paying attention on the internet now more than ever. This too shall pass and your target market might need you to be the one to voice that!

If you’re looking for even more inspiration- AdAge put out an incredible article (updated frequently) that tracks marketers’ response to coronavirus. Videos, words, and images are so powerful and marketers are using this time to be creative, uplifting, and honest in their messaging.

Published by vzelefsky

Hi, I’m Victoria, an American girl who’s always jet-setting somewhere new! I was born in Maryland, moved to Colorado, then jumped around Europe for a while before ending up in Baltimore because I fell in love. I work in marketing and love living in downtown Baltimore but am always itching to plan my next adventure!

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