The term “empathetic marketing” has been used a lot recently, and it makes you pause and contemplate what it means. As we navigate the crisis and the impact on businesses across the country, understanding this term could be crucial to the survival and marketing success for any businesses.

Empathetic marketing is not going dark. It is not continuing to market to your customers like you always have. It is not acting like there is nothing happening to our world and life is moving forward as always. It is also not constantly trying to sell either. Then what exactly is empathetic marketing? And how does one know how to adjust and navigate the change in communicating with customers and the community? What is right and what is wrong? Of course, if you are in marketing you already know that is a question that cannot be answered in a black and white manner. Most of the time we spend marketing falls in a fluid grey space and attempting to keep the impact on our customers in between the two yellow lines! It is what makes our job fun, exciting and most importantly, ever changing.

Obviously, every business is different, and all suggestions will not be successful for all businesses. However, below are some general ideas to help navigate your marketing during this time. *Note: Discontinuing marketing is not an option.

Adjust any scheduled posts and marketing campaigns/timelines.

  1. You may not have the capacity or flexibility to do a complete revamp to your marketing strategy like Ford or Charmin during this pandemic. What you can do is pause campaigns or scheduled posts to be sure that it is in the best interest of the company during a time of uncertainty. Then look at what you can change or update to keep your company relevant.
  2. Revisit the visual components of your marketing. Be sure that you do not show people or product that is frowned upon during this time. For example, you may not want to show a baseball game with full stadium or a restaurant that is packed. You don’t have to stress and try and shoot new content (unless that is an option), just remove what is not relevant.  
  3. Be sure you are not just “selling” your company or product. It is important to show the consumer that you care about them and are with them during this time. Yes, it is essential to be sure your customer doesn’t forget about you but scheduling in some fun or caring posts for interaction can be more impactful. For example, if you have a clothing line – maybe you do a funny post about laundry or show a real face behind the social media posts.
  4. Wording should be adjusted slightly to make changes to your campaigns keeping them relevant as well. Just be specific about your choice of words to be sure you are not pushing your customer too much during this time. Your customer may become irritated if you are pushing them to react, follow up or get in touch with you right away. Soften your language.

Do not use the pandemic and a marketing strategy.

  1. You can keep the consumer informed, as it relates to your business. For example, being timely about changes in hours or procedures is important. Let them know that you are updating and doing things to keep them safe and healthy. Be careful to not be over dramatic.
  2. Do not use the crisis to your benefit. For example, do not use the pandemic to create specials or sales.
  3. It is important that your social media is up to date. People expect social media to be real time – be sure that if there are post that were scheduled you review. Even if you do not think a post is offensive, it can be perceived as being incompetent.

Try and keep positive.

  1. Just because these are scary times, doesn’t mean you have to be doom and gloom. Your visual components can show people smiling and not be offensive. It is an important reminder that these times are temporary and better times are to come.
  2. The more human you seem to the consumer, the more connection there can be with your product. If it is relevant to share personal stories, feel free to as it will create a stronger association with your clients.
  3. Don’t think that you just have to communicate pertinent stories as it relates to your product. Feel free to go outside the box, for example: share recipes, or write a blog about the impact of fresh air.

Does your product or service actually help the customer? If so, point it out!

  1. Focus on helping people during this time. Can your product or service assist during this pandemic? Be sure to share! An example would be something you can do or use at home.
  2. Even if your brand does not directly help the customer, there are things you can do to show support by creating content. Like mentioned above, creating blogs or even opportunities to educate or entertain while families are stuck at home.

This pandemic will not last forever, but we do not know the time it will end either. Marketing is not necessarily an “essential” product, but it is what can potential keep your business afloat during this down time. Creative marketing, digital, social media and traditional means of marketing are still relevant and impactful.