The difference between a brand’s success and failure during a recession often comes down to its marketing strategy. What are the top brands doing right in their marketing during COVID-19, and how can you follow their example?
As places of business struggle amidst stay-at-home orders and the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, your choices regarding marketing can either make or break you. Though being conservative with your spending may seem like the safest option, we’ve seen that the businesses who actually lean into their marketing, particularly on the digital front, are more likely to see success and retain their customers even during this major recession.
This post is all about showing you first-hand how to market during a time of social distancing and COVID-19 by highlighting some big brands out there who are doing it right. We’re giving you some great examples of how you can adapt your marketing strategy to benefit you and help you recover from this global pandemic. Keep reading to see how top brands’ marketing strategies have made a cultural impact and seen success in the time of COVID-19.
Marketing During COVID-19: Brands Connecting With Their Audience
The brands that have done well this year are the ones who are determined to meet customers where they’re at–and right now, that means on social media. Reminding customers that you are still here, that you still have a lot to offer, and that you can create new ways to connect goes a long way.
For example, Walgreens directly addressed their customers’ concerns, particularly around health and safety, by posting short videos of their pharmacists answering patients’ questions. In their “Ask a Pharmacist” series, they have addressed topics such as “Tips for Senior Citizens” and “Protecting Myself in Public.” This helps to address customers’ anxieties while also presenting Walgreens as a trustworthy authority and reassuring consumer’s faith in the brand.
Similarly, Netflix launched on Instagram a weekly LIVE series called, “Wanna Talk About It?” where they feature mental health experts and discussed ways to best take care of yourself during a pandemic. It showed concern for their audiences’ mental and emotional health, offered support for them in difficult times, and again, re-established that trust.
Chipotle even launched a series of Zoom lunch parties which featured Q&A with celebrity guests and free lunch give-aways. They encouraged customers to stay home, but still created a community space where customers could come together and enjoy some burritos. Marketing during COVID-19 is all about adaptation, and the successful brands are the ones helping their customers navigate a new way of living and working to meet them in their new habits and routines.
Marketing During COVID-19: Brands Being Authentic
Another huge aspect of marketing during a global pandemic is the willingness to be authentic. There is so much uncertainty and so many unknowns, so the more upfront and open you can be with your customers, the better. Showing what’s going on behind the scenes, being transparent in how you’re responding to the pandemic, and highlighting the ways you’re keeping your employees and customers safe are all ways you can emphasize authenticity in your marketing.
McDonalds did this by featuring videos that outlined new safety precautions they were taking in sanitizing their stores and preparing food, and showed how they were keeping employees and customers safe. You can follow their example by keeping your customers informed of any updated policies or precautions and assuring them you’re acting with everyone’s health in mind. The more specific and concrete actions you can highlight to your customers, the better and safer they’ll feel.
On another note, Dove, known for their body inclusivity and positivity campaigns and for promoting “real beauty,” released a video titled “Courage is Beautiful,” where they honored images of exhausted doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers with visible marks on their faces from medical masks and gear. Dove also used the video to announce it’s donation to Direct Relief, which cares for frontline workers in the U.S. Dove has seen great success in its pushes for authenticity in the past, and their emphasis on the real has continued to prove effective during COVID-19.
Sam’s Club had their own take on authenticity while recognizing what they called “retail heroes.” Their minute-long primetime ad celebrated essential workers by listing the names of their employees and other retail and essential workers on the front lines. The video featured employees stocking shelves with disinfecting wipes, sanitizing carts, and helping customers. This recognition and salute to essential workers had a big impact on their audience and helped create a feeling of support not just for the brand, but for people and workers as a whole. Use their example to uplift and recognize the work your own employees or business is doing, or to honor the work of others.
Marketing During COVID-19: Brands Giving Back
Now is the time to show that your brand still has something valuable to offer your customers, and a great way to do that is to find ways to give back. Since we’re all sacrificing and struggling in different ways, that means that there are also many different opportunities to contribute and give back to your customers and community, whether through access to products, giving donations, volunteering, or something else.
Nike, for example, eliminated subscription fees for its digital workout app so people could work out from home for free. This allowed users to stream workout videos, access training plans, and get fitness tips from experts. They then promoted the service with hashtags like #playinside and #playfortheworld. With gyms closing and other outdoor activities limited, this provided something valuable and desired during difficult circumstances and still met customer needs.
In another vein, National Geographic launched a free homeschool hub for students learning at home, proving themselves a valuable resource to parents as schools and kids struggled to adapt to at-home learning. Nat Geo’s website reads, “At home for a while with your kids? Don’t want their brains to go stale? We’ve got you covered. Here are quizzes, videos, science experiments, and even at-home classroom resources.” What information, resources, or products can you offer to your customers that also continue to meet their needs at this time?
Donations and community giving are another great way to foster brand loyalty. In the midst of the crazed rush for toilet paper, Cottonelle, the largest toilet paper brand in the country, pledged 1 million dollars and rolls of toilet paper to COVID-19 relief. They also directly addressed customer concerns and anxieties through their messaging by urging people to “stock up on generosity,” and promoting #shareasquare. This kind of marketing can help alleviate fears while also giving your customers something to hope for and support. In order to build loyalty and trust, it helps for your customers to associate your brand with generosity.
After all, while this year has thus far been one of anxiety and uncertainty, one of the most important things you should still focus on in your marketing strategy is hopefulness and positivity. Don’t deny or ignore the reality that COVID-19 has created for our businesses and our economy, but remember that it is also the perfect time to share whatever good news you might have, whether it’s money raised, people helped, masks made, acts of service, or other more obscure highlights that won’t get covered in the media and news cycle. Follow the examples of the brands above to show how your business is adapting and meeting challenges with creative solutions. By connecting with your audience, being authentic, giving back, and learning from brands that are marketing successfully, you can use your marketing to show how both your business and your customers can all get through this time together.
If rethinking your marketing strategy feels overwhelming right now, remember that SN Digital Agency is an experienced, results driven full service digital and social media marketing agency that’s here to lessen your load. We understand that many businesses need extra help during this time, and we would love to talk to you about partnering with your business. We can help leverage your social media presence for success now and in the future! Contact us today!