As if the stress of yet another wave of the pandemic wasn’t enough, our prospects and customers are trying to grapple with the news coming out of Afghanistan, the impact of tropical storms, wildfires, and what seems like a loss of all normalcy.
It’s a lot to process.
And yet, life — and business — must continue.
Prospects still have problems that need solving. Customers still depend on companies to deliver products and services. Businesses must continue to operate.
Marketing and sales are the means to connect us all.
Should you hit “Pause” on your marketing?
If you are advertising in your local community and there’s an ongoing disaster, pausing your regular marketing usually makes sense. A perky commercial about buying life insurance doesn’t land well if your prospects are watching their homes burn in a wildfire.
Even if you’re marketing nationwide, being sensitive to the current situation is important.
I remember when Superstorm Sandy was making its way up the eastern seaboard, I got an email mocking people for being concerned about it. Something along the lines of “stop acting like people are going to die and attend my webinar.” Well, 157 people did die. Thousands lost their homes. It was a big deal.
Think the company sent a followup email with an apology? Nope. I haven’t bought anything from them since.
Don’t be that marketer.
On the other hand, during a continuing, widespread crisis like we’ve experienced over the last 18 months of the covid pandemic, not marketing isn’t an option. You can’t shut down your new business acquisition for an extended period of time and keep your business viable.
Also, depending on the medium, pausing an ad isn’t always possible. Print ads are usually set weeks in advance, while online ads can be turned off almost instantly.
You don’t want to be insensitive, and people still need what you sell, but what’s the right approach?
Shift your message
Just like a sailor tacks to adjust to the wind, you can update the message to consider the current crisis.
- Determine what your customers (and prospects) need to hear right now.
Clients (and others) impacted by flooding from Tropical Storm Fred or Henri need to know what to do to salvage their contents and file a flood claim.
As we’re dealing with the delta variant surge, a list of restaurants in the community that provide carry-out or delivery and what days they are open would be helpful.
For military families, hearing that you understand their grief over the situation in Afghanistan is comforting.
- Use the marketing platforms you have to communicate the message that’s most helpful.
If you’re currently doing email marketing, it’s easy to add in a targeted message. Online ads can be updated quickly. A pop-up can be set up on your website’s home page.
Consider using media you haven’t utilized before.
Do a TV or radio interview related to the crisis. Coordinate collection of donations to help those in need. Create a video and post it on social media.
Be authentic in whatever message you communicate. Use this opportunity to build relationships.
- Remember you are giving value, not just making a sale.
Play the long game.
Be genuine in your words and actions and focus on giving value.
Ask if your marketing message builds relationships. It’s always a good policy, but it’s especially true during a crisis.
That said, don’t shrink from offering products and services that people need. When you add value, you can be confident in your message.
Own any missteps
Maybe an ad runs that you couldn’t stop or you didn’t realize was offensive. It happens.
Immediately step up and own it. A sincere apology is rarely rejected, especially by those who know your integrity.
In the Superstorm Sandy email example I told you about, had they followed up with an email that said, “Wow, we blew it. We’re horrified by the loss of life and property in the storm and we’re donating $X to [charity name] to help storm victims” it would be a much different story. And they wouldn’t have lost a customer.
So keep marketing and while you do…
Be aware, be kind, and be a leader.
“He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.” – Dr Thomas Fuller