For most B2B brands out there, the role of marketing has changed drastically during the COVID-19 crisis. Marketing, as we understood it a few short weeks ago, has fundamentally changed. My guess is it will continue to change for months to come.
But more than even a few weeks ago, getting marketing right matters. Here are our thoughts:
Stay the course, think long term
Marketers are communicators. And communicating clearly and well has never been more important to any brand. We need to be the voice of calm and reason for our clients and to their customers. Our counsel is critical, not only in what we say on behalf of brands, but what we don’t say. Clients who are afraid may be prone to fire sales or pandemic themed pandering. Or worse, being seen as trying to profit from the crisis. I just got an email from a promotion company that offered 100 free surgical masks with my next order. No shit. I’ll never use them again.
Internal communications are no longer a luxury
With the fragile state of every business and the extended work-from-home efforts, we can’t take employees for granted. They are worried and feel isolated from coworkers and decisions. There needs to be a deliberate effort to keep them engaged and relieve as much anxiety as possible. But that doesn’t mean things need to be sugar-coated. They see the news and they’re smart. Be as transparent as possible and if you don’t know the answer to a question that’s okay. They don’t expect you to have a crystal ball, but they do expect you to be honest.
Actions matter more than words
Find things to support. Food banks, healthcare workers, and grocery store staff need more than a hashtag. Take some action to help before you give them the equivalent of a hollow “thank you for your service”. And it’s okay to tell your employees and customers what you’re doing. But give them an opportunity to participate in some fashion, because now more than ever this ain’t about you.
Monitor and adjust as you go
We can all agree that there is no handbook. I checked. Though I feel sure there are plenty being written. Since there is no map for marketing during a crisis of this nature I think folks will be relatively forgiving of any minor missteps. As long as we proceed with care and avoid appearing flippant.
If you do all this, wash your hands, and maintain social distance you’ll be fine. Probably. I don’t want to over-promise.