The novel coronavirus dove the world into a state of crisis in 2020. Isolated in our homes, we’ve had little choice but to watch in a strange state of disconnected unity as the infection and fatality rates climb.
As we scramble to get our heads around the conflicting information that daily gushes forth from the media and the mouths of political leaders, the marketers of the world got cracking on virus-related gimmicks like branded promotional hand sanitizer, “miraculous” cures, and flooding our inboxes with unnecessary emails.
If you’re thinking of reaching out to customers in the midst of a pandemic, be wary of the following mistakes:
Mistake 1: Problematic promises
As the novel coronavirus spread, many marketers leapt at the opportunity to suggest their products or services could be preventative or even curative. From preachers and podcasters to naturopaths and purveyors of herbal remedies, the market flooded with “miraculous” claims. Not only is this unscrupulous, but it’s also downright dangerous. Unless you’ve made a genuine scientific breakthrough that’s been officially endorsed, refrain from using a pandemic to market your snake oil.
Mistake 2: Unnecessary emails
Maybe you really do need to get in touch with people and fill them in on what’s happening with your business. However, if you’re not delivering vital information, stop for a moment to consider whether you need to send this email. If all you’re doing is reminding them that there’s a pandemic on and that “we’re all in this together,” then you can almost guarantee you’ll be bugging them.
So many companies have sent pointless pandemic emails that have inspired a whole lot of eye-rolling among consumers. Instead of risking this reaction, hold back on communications unless you’re saying something truly valuable.
Mistake 3. Tone-deaf communications
It’s always advisable to be careful with your language, and this becomes even more of an imperative during a pandemic. People tend to be more sensitive and reactive, as evidenced by the huge backlash KFC received for pushing their “finger-lickin’ good” ad campaign in the midst of the pandemic.
With hygiene at the forefront of our minds, this innocent-sounding slogan took on a whole new negative meaning. Take this example to heart and be careful with the communications you send out. If you can, get a sensitivity reader to go over any campaigns you plan to launch during the pandemic.
Mistake 4. Adjustment issues
Most businesses schedule their email marketing campaigns weeks or months in advance. As the pandemic rose up and the world responded, many people forgot to make adjustments. Though understandable, this resulted in customers receiving confusing emails encouraging them to visit stores or book their next overseas holiday.
Even if you don’t need to change the content of your emails, it’s still worth reviewing their frequency. As people adjust to working from home or losing their jobs altogether, they really don’t have time for emails that don’t deliver immediate value.
5. Financial insensitivity
Hard-selling can be off-putting at the best of time. During a pandemic, it puts you at risk of permanently alienating your target market. You can still market to people, but you need to come from a place of compassion and offer ways to make the crisis more manageable for those struggling with the new reality.
Many companies have offered free or discounted subscriptions to help get people through. Though this doesn’t boost immediate profits, it does foster brand loyalty, making it an excellent long-term strategy.
The best way to avoid mistakes like the ones listed above is to allow compassion to inform every marketing decision you make during a pandemic.