• John Walker

Marketing Triage: Adjust your messaging so you don’t sound tone- deaf

Updated: Mar 30



Right now consumers aren’t in a buying mode and your organization’s ability to offer your normal goods and services may be limited.

You’re trying to adjust to remote working or closures. You’re not sure the status of your supply chain. Basic operations are reeling. What this means for marketing, at minimum, is that your messaging needs to change, and quickly.

Employee communications

Start by communicating inside your organization. Make sure you’re communicating early and often to employees. Don’t wait for your action plans to get set in stone, they’re going to change anyway. Tell your employees what’s happening today, why it’s happening and what might affect what you do tomorrow. Leaders communicate and employees are hungry to hear what’s going on, even if it’s bad news. And remember, what you tell your employees is going to filter out into the community and the message will likely reach your customers too.

Customer communications

Over the last week, I’ve been getting some form of the same email from my bank, from software companies, from my gas company and from others. And I appreciate it. The message says something about adapting to the corona crisis, about whether they’re open or closed, how they’re keeping their employees safe, and why they care about me as a customer. But, again, I appreciate that they’re keeping open the lines of communication. It tells me they’re attentive and adaptable.

Marketing communications

These are the channels where, under normal conditions, you reach prospects and invite them to become customers. But these aren’t normal times and if you push normal marketing messages, you may sound tone deaf. So I suggest you tread carefully here, because you don’t want to turn off all messaging either.

They key with outbound marketing messages, if they’re still appropriate for your organization, is to address customers where they are which is anxious, uncertain and focused on the implications of the wider health crisis. So your message needs to acknowledge this in some way. How do you do that?

Let me share an example from the recession of 2008. One care manufacturer, Hyundai I think, promised customers that if they lost their jobs, their car payments would be suspended. By easing fears about a big-ticket purchase, the brand addressed customer fears and was still able to promote sales.

The question for you is how you can position your product or service to meet one of the urgent needs consumers feel right now. Help me to feel less anxious. Let me work remotely. Connect me with friends and family. Show me how to adapt. If you can build this relevance into your message, then you’ll connect with consumers hungry for answers.

This post was written by John Walker, principal consultant at J. Walker Marketing. Contact John today to discuss your marketing challenges. John@JWalkerMktg.com.

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