17th March 2021
by Charlotte Wilson
The impact of covid-19 has been felt by almost everyone in varying different ways. Therefore, the last thing that a brand should be seen to be doing is putting their profit margins above the wellbeing of their staff, customers and the general public.
Obviously, businesses still need to survive to be able to retain and pay their employees and find a way to move forward for the future. However, what this pandemic has shown is that empathy marketing is now more important than ever when it comes to how a brand is perceived. Empathy marketing proves to consumers that a business not only cares about their customers, but they can also understand and relate to them too.
For example, when things kicked off way back in March last year (ouch how time flies hey) many companies set about offering value to their customers in a way that didn’t necessarily make them more (or any) money but showed a commitment to being there for people when they needed it, plus an understanding that everyone was going to have to make allowances for the change in pace. For example, fitness guru’s shared free at-home workouts on-demand to keep everyone at home active and occupied, zoo’s shared complimentary content of ‘behind the scenes’ looks at the animals, drive-in movies and concerts appeared, and museums developed online educational initiatives wherever they could.
These adaptations were sometimes costing businesses more while they inevitably made less, but the lasting impact that these offerings will potentially have on the customer for years to come could be priceless. Think about it, if you’re looking for a new nutrition or fitness program to purchase, who are you more likely to choose – the brand who provided you with free, useful and inspiring content and access when they didn’t need to, or the one who relentlessly plugged their gated paid-for content during lockdown because they knew they could take advantage of people stuck inside?
So, how do you market your brand with empathy? Here a few steps to keep in mind when trying to navigate your marketing during a global pandemic.
Be wary of scheduling – if you’re a larger business then inevitably you’ll likely schedule your advertising and marketing campaigns months in advance. Our advice during a chaotic time that throws up new economic uncertainties every week – Don’t. It might be more labour intensive to keep things on a real-time, or much shorter, planning cycle, but nothing is going to go down worse than an ill-time ad for something that drops shortly after a jarring and restrictive announcement.
Don’t be afraid to start from scratch – to truly create an empathetic marketing campaign that is responsive to the current climate, your best bet is to start again rather than trying to re-purpose an old one. Consumers are pretty shrewd these days and they can literally find anything online, especially f you’ve used it before or in previously out-dated context. Again, this might mean investing more than you’d hoped, but think how much better you’ll feel when you launch a campaign that strikes right at the heart of how your customer is feeling rather than anxiously waiting for the backlash of a hastily edited after-thought.
Don’t take advantage – this might seem like an obvious one, but it’s easy to lose sight of this when you’re trying to save your livelihood. As much as businesses need to find a way to survive (and succeed) in the new normal, try not to engage in anything that will turn people off your brand. For example, showing off that your business is thriving during the crisis is a no-go, as is having any kind of Covid-19 themed sale or offer. Be aware of the situation of others and adjust your marketing efforts accordingly – no matter how good you think the pun is.
Stay savvy with design – an easy one for us to remember at Pistachio, but not so much if your design team doesn’t have their finger on the pulse. Try to keep any visuals and imagery in line with current health and safety guidelines. Don’t show people gathering in crowds or touching each other – unless of course you are advising against it. Instead, focus on images and messaging that reinforces what the experts are saying and shows that you are putting the health of the public above your need to promote your business.
Hope is stronger than fear – luckily, it seems like there is finally a light at the end of the covid tunnel, but there’s still a long way to go. The best thing you can do when trying to engage with your customer on an empathic level is to focus on the positive and try and instil a message of hope in your communications. Tap into the human side of your brand and people will automatically feel more connected to your business in a way that an aggressive sales mentality could never achieve.
So much has changed for us all over this last year, but one thing remains the same and that is the idea of putting the customer first. With all that people have lost thanks to Covid-19, empathy marketing could not be more important for brands to embrace and really get right. If you’re looking for some help with your next campaign and you’re not sure where to start, why not get in touch today.
Thanks for reading.