Covid-19’s Marketing And Brand Strategy: Nailing Social Media While Maintaining Distance

Call it a “new normal,” a “adjusted reality,” or whatever you like;” for many businesses, operations must continue as usual despite the widespread spread of the Covid-19 virus. However, with this complexity comes the need for more nuanced marketing messages than those previously effective.

Maybe not, though. Communications consultant Tom Goodwin of Publicis Groupe recently posted on LinkedIn, “by now, what [he] really wants in advertising is for [companies] to ignore the current crisis, rather than pretending to care about it.” I don’t want a fake embrace from an insurance firm or a meaningless show of support from a car manufacturer, he wrote.

Whatever the case may be, it’s not wise to take the attitude of “business as usual.” Claire Trimble, chief marketing officer at Lastline, wrote for this publication last month about the value of revisiting previous marketing objectives.

Trimble warned of the “very real risk of being seen as insensitive or tone deaf.” Furthermore, “the ability to offer your audience valuable solutions, experiences, and the expertise that is required in the short-term will have a lasting impact on company brand. When it comes to messaging, we’ll need to tread carefully.

The chief marketing officer at Selligent, Niki Hall, argued last month that despite the drastic changes in the environment, many of the company’s central marketing tenets remained unchanged. With real-time data becoming increasingly important, Hall argued that “the power of automation” must be combined with “smart ideas” for targeted campaigns.

Insights into consumers’ immediate wants and needs can now be gleaned with the help of modern technology, allowing for a level of individualised service never before possible. Taking advantage of this phenomenon is crucial now that customers are shifting their focus from in-store to online shopping.

Trimble explains that it is not a question of if, but rather of how, businesses can continue to thrive by focusing on providing value to their customers. She argued that businesses shouldn’t “give to get” during tough times, and that companies also shouldn’t just blindly cold call into sectors or contacts that are suffering. “Pausing to reevaluate marketing objectives may be the best course of action, depending on the field.

“This doesn’t mean all marketing stops; it does mean that applying predictive analytics, valuable content, and experiences with a bit of common sense has never been so critical to success,” Trimble said.

Is this what we can expect going forward? The rate at which businesses are becoming digital has increased dramatically. The spread of coronavirus has compelled us to adopt widespread remote work, something we were capable of but lacked the willpower to do before. It’s possible the same thing is happening in digital marketing, with businesses pushing forward with the same strategies they’ve always used, but now doing so more efficiently.

The most public and outward-facing channels of communication, such as social media, provide the clearest illustration of this trend. Last year, Electric House’s senior client partner, Will Bonaddio, participated on an expert panel at DMWF Global to discuss social best practises. Bonaddio mentioned the marketing campaign McDonald’s ran wherein customers were encouraged to drink their fries with their milkshakes. The press took note of the confirmed existence of this “underground… gross eating habit,” calling it a “unknown phenomenon.” It turned out that the fast food giant had been listening in on user conversations about the topic and creating ads to capitalise on it.

If brands want to be sentimental, informative, humorous, or some combination thereof, there will be other cues to pick up on even if these kinds of conversations aren’t happening at the moment. A brand’s purpose is more important than ever in this era of social distancing, as Bonaddio will explain in an exclusive DMWF Online powered by MarketingTech webinar on June 9.

On June 9 at 3:00 PM BST, DMWF Powered By MarketingTech will host the first of a series of webinars titled Social Media While Social Distancing. Sign up now to reserve a seat. Sign up even if you know you won’t be able to attend the live event; you’ll still receive the webinar recording at your convenience.

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