Marketing and COVID-19 (

As marketers we’ve been here before. We’ve had to grapple with keeping our business moving during times of crisis. Most recently the recession in 2008 and before that in 2001, the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The challenge is speaking to your customers in a way that recognizes the gravity of the situation while at the same time giving your business the best chance to pull through. What’s more, as marketers we’re feeling as vulnerable and uncertain as our audience. We have to take a breath and tune into our own emotions to understand how to speak and message to consumers.

To me, there are two paths that feel appropriate under the circumstances. In many cases they’ll converge but consider them platforms to launch from:

  1. The solution approach. This one will appeal to the more practical customer segments and may be useful to brands that provide essentials. Dover Saddlery for example has offered Free Shipping with no minimum so you can get what you need to take care of your horse without leaving home. The Charles Tyrwhitt British clothing company sent an email with this subject-line: 4 proper work-from-home shirts for $139. And Target, as well as many other retailers, are pushing their drive-up services so you can stay in your car and still get what you need. These are just a few examples where practical solutions are on-brand and appropriate in the situation.
  2. The emotional approach. We may push through times like these with a brave face, but we all want to be comforted. We’re all looking for ways to soothe the rattled nerves for ourselves and our loved ones. And it’s perfectly appropriate to extend offers that will make the audience feel a little relief. Frankly, I’m not seeing a lot of this in the market right now and it’s a missed opportunity. To invite consumers to take comfort and indulge isn’t opportunistic, it’s just good self-care! Subtle messaging that acknowledges what the audience is looking for, emotionally, should work well. Here’s a few of the top examples: Hunker down with cozy____ , Treat yourself to____ , Indulge in____, you deserve it. Making an emotional connection, in a brand-right way, confirms to your audience that you feel them without being patronizing or opportunistic.
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