What Brands Should and Shouldn’t Do During COVID-19

Many brands are at a loss of how to operate under current circumstances. Emotions are at an all-time high. There is no guarantee that the market will return to normal any time soon – and even still, there will most likely be a “new normal”. But nonetheless, we must continue to push forward. However, operations must be adapted to suit the needs of the current market during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, on our podcast Beyond the Shelf, we spoke with Jess Saba of Good Point PR who shared with us the following DOs and DON’Ts of how brands should proceed during the ongoing crisis:

DO convert resources to assist emergency response

One of the most important things we can do at the moment is to support those who are fighting on the front lines to keep the general population safe. If possible, brands should reallocate their resources to support emergency response personnel.

For example, if your company has access to PPE or other sanitary equipment, donate them to your local hospital or medical care facility. For more information on where to donate PPE products, visit GetUsPPE.org

DON’T capitalize on fears

There is already enough fear in the world. Brands should not use COVID-19 as a marketing tactic to boost sales, or online traffic. In the long term, consumers will remember which brands reacted properly to this time period. Using COVID-19 as the basis of a marketing campaign will inevitably alienate your consumers and will hinder your future business.

However, this does not mean you shouldn’t acknowledge the ongoing crisis – but tread lightly. Keep your customers in the loop of any changes your company has had to make as a result of the changing market, and acknowledge any necessary steps you’ve had to make in order to keep your consumers and employees safe.

DO make donations (monetary or resources) to non-profits

In response to many consumers panic-buying excess groceries, many food & beverage brands are seeing an increase in sales. And although this may be a silver lining to some, brands should consider reallocating these profits to help non-profit organizations. If possible, partner with local groups to provide resources or portions of your profits to assist with any emergency response efforts.

For some examples on how brands have already started supporting their community, read our blog Stronger Together: Brands Supporting Their Community.

DON’T make insensitive content – watch your tone

Similar to not capitalizing on fears, brands must consider their tone when marketing – especially on social media. Although memes are an extremely popular, and effective type of content for brands to engage with their audience, you must really think about how any of your messaging can be perceived. Offering a safe space that is meant to entertain in one thing, but poking fun at an extremely sensitive topic is entirely different.

A great way to utilize your social platforms during this time is to offer your followers resources or ideas to stay busy while social distancing. For example, many food & beverage companies have found success in posting step-by-step recipes in their stories (or through a live stream), which can help increase engagement while creating a safe space for your viewers.

DO reconsider previous marketing campaigns

Any and all automated marketing campaigns created before the start of widespread social distancing should be revised or canceled. Especially email campaigns. Because these programs are usually created months in advance, it’s important that marketers go back and revise their content strategy to reflect the current circumstances. More than ever, consumers don’t want to be sold to. Automated marketing emails often come off as insensitive and not timely.

If you are able to, press pause on any ongoing campaigns. As a team, go back through your messaging and reconsider your tone and content to address your customer’s current needs/wants.

DON’T focus all your attention on marketing

It bears repeating, right now people don’t want to be sold to. Although social media activity has increased in the past month, and it may seem like a good time to focus on digital marketing, brands must really consider how they are positively contributing to their audience. Instead of thinking about how your social media channels can increase sales, consider how increasing engagement can strengthen your relationship with your customers.

As we said earlier, the future is a bit uncertain. However, what brands can control is their relationship with their customers. Now is really the time to interact with your audience. Start a dialogue with them. Ask them what you could be doing to help them through these rough times. If possible, offer them resources. Support your community and show empathy.

For more information about what brands can do during this turbulent time, listen to our interview with Jess Saba here.


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