Choose Your Words Carefully: Crafting Marketing Messages During COVID-19
Now that we’re well into the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably noticed something: you turn on the TV, and every ad is a message about how the advertiser’s product – from car insurance and mortgage lenders to beer, pizza, and hamburgers – will help the community get through this. Banner ads promote special COVID-19 incentives such as favorable lease terms for cars or with every product purchased, the company will donate money or personal protective equipment. And as an integrated marketer, you may be at a loss for words – or, at least, not sure of the right words to use during this unprecedented time.
Even if you’re hesitant to jump in the fray, you can’t afford not to market yourself. A recent survey revealed that 68% of consumers find it helpful when the ads and marketing they see reflects our current situation. No matter what your product or service, there’s still a way to be sensitive to these extraordinary times.
It’s acceptable to reference the current state of affairs: saying otherwise results in massive cognitive dissonance. But, you need to pivot to the positive. As the situation evolves, you may need to recalibrate very quickly, based on a variety of factors – including what everyone else is saying. For example, an informal audit by The Wall Street Journal has shown a glut of communications that start with the words, “In these uncertain times…” Don’t jump on that bandwagon.
Focus on Solutions, Not Problems
More than ever, consumers want clear, useful information and encouragement. What is your company doing to help? How has your company shifted its policies to keep employees and the public safe? Frame your messaging around providing a service to customers – even if that service is simply reassuring them that they’re not alone.
However, integrated marketing expert Reed Fischer warns that there’s a fine line between supporting versus capitalizing. Even if your company manufactures products that solve problems or improve the quality of life during this time – for example, at-home cooking or fitness products – make sure your copy emphasizes informing rather than selling. Be mindful and empathetic about your customers’ unease or reluctance to spend money now.
Stay on Brand but Make It Sensitive
As we adapt to the new normal, consumers crave dependability and respond to authenticity. If having a modern, upbeat tone is part of your brand, you should still communicate that way – just don’t be too jokey or flippant. No matter how irreverent your brand, avoid using words or phrases that come off as insensitive or crass, such as ‘killer,’ ‘plague,’ ‘contagious,’ or even ‘going viral.’
There is one thing you may want to change now: if you traditionally communicate in third-person, switch to first-person plural (we, us, ours).
- For example, instead of, “The Jones Company and all of its employees are committed to…”
- Say, “At The Jones Company, all of us are committed to…”
This is a simple way to create a feeling of solidarity and warmth.
Is It Time for an Audit?
At FSI, we are walking the talk – doubling down on our commitment to our customers and helping them however we can. As the economy and businesses start to open back up, it’s crucial to send the right messages. We can help you make sure your integrated marketing strategy and messaging is on point to help you make it through this.