Maria Meadows, President, Model B
If you’re like me, you’ve been inundated with emails from CEOs in the age of coronavirus. With an increasing number of people social distancing, brands, retailers, restaurants, and others are—wisely, I might add—pushing to online content and ramping up their email marketing. Good marketing reaches people where they are, and people are staying at home and digitally interacting with the world.
It makes sense that businesses have initially relied on email to stay in front of their audience. Email and social media have long been two of the biggest digital marketing channels, so it’s only natural that companies large and small have been leaning into them as the world adjusts. For some businesses, sending an email to remind customers that they’re still providing services can make the difference between riding out the storm or shuttering permanently.
We’re not knocking email, but with inboxes being flooded with iterations of the same message, consumers are tuning out. We get it: you’re concerned, closely monitoring the situation, and taking precautions. With that initial outreach out of the way, what do you do next? Companies need to think about how to stand out while preparing to succeed in the new business landscape that will exist when we come out on the other side.
We know everyone’s eyeballs are online right now. We also know that many consumers are also stuck at home, trying to balance professional and domestic responsibilities. They’re learning, many through trial and error, how to conduct business as usual in a highly unusual environment.
That represents an opportunity. To capitalize on it, businesses need to create meaningful content that adds value to their audiences instead of further distracting or frustrating them. By planning to engage differently, they can create long-term meaningful connections with their customers.
To start, companies should think about their current and potential customers’ headspaces. For many working families, adaptation is the challenge du jour. For parents, it’s adapting to doing a job while keeping children occupied (and out of the background of their video conference calls). For older generations, it may be learning to use new technologies that replace face-to-face interaction. And all of us are working through feelings of fear and vulnerability that arise from uncertainty about how—and when—this situation will be resolved.
In these early weeks, brands can forge deeply personal connections with their customers by acknowledging the vulnerability that we are all experiencing and the interconnectedness of who we are, even though we may be in a virtual environment. And your content plan over the next several weeks should reflect that by focusing on acknowledging the uncertainty while adding value to help your community get through it—instead of solely thinking about what you can sell them. While brands are always trying to have an authentic voice, authenticity is more important than ever.
One local business I take my daughter to on the weekends is dealing with the financial strain and working to push through revenue losses. But they’re a great example of this approach. The business owner understands that my headspace as a mother is balancing work and home life, and rather than go on a hiatus, she is focused on creating content and ideas that parents can use for their children to keep them busy while working from home.
That acknowledges the situation, anticipates customers’ needs, and provides something useful to make their lives easier. She found a new platform and leveraged email and social media to maximize its potential. And she’s not only winning the hearts and minds of her current customer base—people are sharing the resources she’s providing, which enables her business to emerge in a stronger position when this is all over.
Every company now needs to think deliberately about their messaging and the frequency by which they deploy it. And if they want their content to break through the clutter, they can do so by ensuring it’s three things: educational, entertaining, and inspirational. They need to think about what they’re going to say, produce, release, and provide to target audiences that is actually entertaining enough, useful enough, or inspiring enough to attract eyes and resonate.
You may have had to pause your business plans, and the stakes are certainly high. But if you evolve your marketing strategy in an agile way that is smart and deliberate about connection points, the relationships that you build now will keep the momentum going when we’re out on the other side.
About the Author: Maria Meadows is the President of Model B. For more information, visit www.ModelB.com.