COVID-19 Marketing: It’s More About Sharing Information, Less About The Sale
Has your Inbox been inundated with marketing emails from, oh, every list you ever joined regarding their business response to COVID-19? We’ve seen an enormous shift in marketing messages as the pandemic drags on. The very first thing I notice about the messages I’ve been seeing is an abrupt shift from advertising the latest product or sale to providing information to consumers about how the brand is responding to the pandemic.
Messages Shift With Changing Times
Depending on the industry, this crisis marketing takes many forms. Some messages focus on the safety precautions the business has enacted to ensure their workers remain safe and healthy and their products remain safe and uncontaminated for consumers. Others focus on delivery and distribution systems and still others share messages of hope.
The messaging has changed over time too. While the early focus was on trying to maintain business as normally as possible, now we’re seeing a shift to change to new services or to expand the early coronavirus related services. Restaurants and grocery stores come to mind in this regard.
Early on, restaurants were allowed to remain open though many adopted distance measures to space diners further apart from one another. The next stage was to eliminate dine-in services and move to carry-out or delivery-only models. Most recently, I’ve seen some restaurants offering free lunches to kids who would usually get their lunch from school, donating food to food banks, and even a few chains that are selling grocery items.
Grocery stores have similarly adjusted their operations from simply remaining open to now having special shopping hours for seniors and healthcare workers, offering curbside pick-up and delivery, making gloves and sanitizing wipes available at the cart corral. With each change, a new message goes out – through in-store signage, on store websites, and in customer emails.
Retail businesses are adapting too. Those that can remain open are generally sending out reassuring messages about how they have adjusted their operations to include more regular cleaning and sanitation or implemented curbside pickups and in-store social distancing measures.
Even businesses that are not deemed essential are still trying to work within the confines of the pandemic. Shoe stores and businesses focused on health and fitness are sending out messages that encourage consumers to buy their products to promote walking and physical fitness. Others are offering online classes, free workout videos, or teleservices.
Finally, there are messages of gratitude. Over and over again, I see companies sending out messages espousing hope and compassion, offering resources for ways their customers can help others during this time, and subtle nods to the important work being done by essential workers.
COVID-19 Crisis Marketing Is About The Connections We Share
What these crisis marketing messages and approaches say to me is that life goes on and we are more than capable of adapting and adjusting to the reality we are currently living. As a marketing professional, I’m happy to see that marketing is still happening and businesses are turning this challenge into an opportunity to remain visible and connected to their customers. As a human being living through this pandemic, I’m gratified to see that these messages aren’t all trying to sell me something that I definitely don’t need right now while blinding ignoring the ongoing crisis.
Instead, the messages are more about keeping people safe and reminding us that we are all in this together. It’s a message that we all need to remember.