Marketing Communication Lessons from the Pandemic

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April 22, 2020 4 min read
by Nat Korol

While health concerns and economic uncertainty persist, many people are looking to distract themselves from the continuous stream of pandemic-related marketing communications.

It turns out there’s a limit to how many remote work tips (Hyphen’s guiding principles), change management plans, and crisis communication best practices we can stomach amid the frenzy of companies trying to address, explain or capitalize on this global pandemic.

According to Manchester-based agency Unhooked Communications:

  • More than one in ten UK consumers are boycotting brands because of how much and what information they are sharing about COVID-19.
  • Of 2,000 UK consumers surveyed, 32% said they have received ‘too much’ or ‘far too much’ communication from brands about COVID-19.

Successful marketing communications during the pandemic

As companies large and small navigate how to behave during the pandemic, many marketing and communications teams are struggling to strike a balance that is respectful, helpful, informative and not annoying. 

Although our team doesn’t have definitive answers (sorry!), here are a few examples of marketing communications that have resonated with us and which may hold useful lessons for us all:

1. What is Important to Your Client, Right Now? 

It’s best to stay away from self-promotion and advertising at this time. Rather than trying to create selling opportunities, focus on empathy and leave it up to your clients and prospects to make the decision on whether this is a time for purchasing. 

During the earnings season, publicly listed companies should honestly communicate the impact of the pandemic on operations, as well as upcoming challenges and plans for overcoming them. It should be made clear that these are short-term issues while your company is in it for the long haul. Your values, philosophies and principles should be reinforced to inspire confidence.

2. Engage in a New Kind of Client Appreciation

The continued uncertainty around the economic outlook is stressful for everyone. In this context, simple, thoughtful and personalized actions are greatly appreciated and could positively impact your company’s financial success in the long term. 

Consider implementing a company-wide client appreciation initiative. Such values-driven actions now will reveal that generosity is a gift that keeps on giving.

LinkedIn Canada engaged its clients in a virtual delight campaign by offering one of three choices – mind, body or soul – based on where you were most in need of a boost. By clicking on one of the options, you received something helpful and kind. Not a huge gesture, but a thoughtful one.

3. Redefine Community

Doing ‘the right thing’ by the local community in which you operate through corporate and individual initiatives helps to enhance relationships. Share ways in which your organization and individual team members are helping your local, national or global community during this difficult time. It’s inspirational and motivational, not to mention that every little action truly helps. 

With hand sanitizer shortages around the world, many local and global breweries have switched to producing this critical product. Meanwhile, companies of all sizes and industries are supporting food banks, shelters and local charities while fashion companies are manufacturing or sourcing much-needed PPE. With some creativity, every organization and individual can contribute positively to the COVID-19 battle.

4. Accelerate Team Engagement

Marketing Communication Lessons From The Pandemic - Raymond James ltd.

Organizations with empathetic leadership are paying careful attention to the well-being of their team. It is important to continuously address and reduce employee anxiety about the current state of the economy, and there are unique ways to help with that while strengthening team engagement. 

Raymond James Ltd., an independent financial institution in Canada, knows the importance of ‘Life Well Lived’ with physical and mental health part of its corporate culture. As over 1,400 of its employees transitioned to remote work, the company recognized the impact that the shift could have on morale and collaboration. Within a week of going remote, Raymond James introduced weekly 30-minute lunch workout sessions led by employees for employees. This initiative offers a unique way to bond, introduces people across Canada to one another, shows personality, and motivates employees to move and stay healthy.

Authenticity in marketing communications during the pandemic

Communicating through a global health crisis that is affecting our economic, mental and physical well-being is about acting with radical empathy and generosity, taking action that aligns with your organizational principles, and sharing inspiration to provide hope and positivity.

Perhaps the best angle that marketing teams can take is to channel timeless Maya Angelou and her advice:

At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did.

They will remember how you made them feel.

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