As cities emerge from lockdown and businesses begin to reopen across the United States, marketers are tasked with a new and unfamiliar situation. In a world where campaign messages are crafted and targeted for each specific audience, we have all been impacted by the same shared experience. In some shape or form, COVID-19 has affected everyone. From a marketing perspective, it can seem difficult to determine how to approach this new environment. At the end of the day, the best marketing route forward is the same as dealing with the pandemic: with empathy. Empathy marketing means looking past a consumer’s rational purchasing decisions and instead of connecting with them on an emotional level. Looking ahead, here are some ways to utilize empathy marketing strategies in your next campaign.
Humanize your Brand
Behind every brand is a hardworking team of people who make it all possible. In these unfamiliar and uncertain times, consumers are looking to learn the stories behind the companies they have come to know and love. Hiding behind a corporate mask falters this connection and shows a lack of authenticity. Show your customers that we are truly all in this together with employees working from home, united with the common goal of helping customers. Place a high level of value on your clients. The focus is not about selling a product or service, but that you are there to help during the most difficult of circumstances. The best marketing is helping. Identify a consumer’s problem that you can help them solve. Don’t try to sell a solution to a problem that’s not relevant.
Focus on Tone
The key considerations as it pertains to marketing content are relevance and tone. It’s important to remember where your customers are, how they are feeling, and the overall state of the world. Remaining positive can be helpful. Help people feel better by acknowledging current affairs, but do not overwhelm them. Content that is not relevant or unrelated to what customers are experiencing right now will come across as tone-deaf. It’s okay to admit that the world is not yet back to normal. Look to the future to keep a positive outlook on the current situation. Your digital or print messaging may be the only marketing your customers see all day. Make sure that it properly fits the current climate.
Try Something New
This is the perfect time to try a new marketing medium. With Social Media use rising since lockdown began, there is no excuse for your brand to not try out a variety of platforms. Twitter has seen an increase of 14 million users since the last quarter of 2019. More consumers are accessing the internet and spending more time online. By reaching out to consumers and promoting social channels, companies can receive real-time feedback from those at home. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and explore a new medium. Take this time to connect with users in a meaningful way.
Let’s take a look at two companies who have exemplified empathy marketing during this time in quarantine:
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, there has been a real worry amongst Americans who own small businesses. In the e-commerce space, eBay has provided relief. Through its “Up and Running” program, the online shopping conglomerate is pledging $100 million to small businesses and making the eBay store free for three months. Companies can still sell their goods in a cost-efficient way until the crisis is over. By doing this, eBay has shown that they are less interested in dominating the online marketplace and instead used this opportunity to lift less-fortunate businesses. Customers can shop on eBay knowing that they are assisting hard-hit stores and their workers. Even though they have made an immense monetary contribution to the industry, marketing alongside this pledge has been the most effective part. Ebay’s digital messaging has consisted of Youtube ads and web banners that repeat the phrase “Up and Running.” This tone of positivity and understanding is helping provide hope in this challenging time.
The months of March and April almost entirely wiped out the market for retail clothing in the United States. Shopping malls have been closed for months, and people are deciding to spend their money on necessities rather than shoes. But what if a portion of your purchase was a donation to front-line Healthcare workers? The shoe manufacturer Allbirds has donated $500,000 worth of shoes but also created donation channels for their customers too. When you purchase a pair of Allbirds shoes, another pair is immediately donated to a healthcare professional in need. Allbirds has struck a caring tone with consumers by showing their support during the crisis. They have not forced themselves onto customers but provided an outlet for relief to those who need it most.
The size of your business does not make an impact when it comes to empathy marketing. Privately held businesses of all sizes can adopt these practices to show their audience that they are thinking about them. Although not every company can afford to make large-scale donations, there is always something that can be said or done to make an impact. At the end of the day, the most effective way to use empathy in your marketing is to care. Treat your customers not as transactional clients, but as human beings. We at Tailored Marketing wish everyone the best in health and business success for the months to come. Stay safe!