As marketers we are expected to come up with ways to “put a positive spin” on things, keep driving traffic to websites and make the phone ring. No. Matter. What.
Today, the elephant in the room is Covid-19.
My inbox is still filled with announcements of new product launches, webinars and seminars. Special offers and, frankly, a number of things from what can only be described as marketing vultures piggy-backing on tragedy.
We are based in Spain. Today is lockdown Day 12 – and the numbers being published currently show no signs of slowing down.
And yet my facebook feed is offering me a test drive of the new Ford Focus, poolside bed reservations at a local beach club – opening soon, according to their ads – despite the government decree that prevents them from opening and me from visiting.
Some of the marketing I am seeing now is clearly scheduled activity which someone has presumably forgotten to pause (I hope that is true, because if this is being done deliberately they need to take a long hard look at themselves) and some of it is being adapted to make it appropriate…. I’m being charitable here because the last thing any of us can do right now can really be classed as appropriate.
And yet, we are expected to do something.
Our clients have already sent out the emails explaining that they are all working from home and offering a seamless service. But once that has been done, what can we do next?
We have taken a couple of approaches.
Firstly, we are not going to ignore the elephant.
So how does that work? We are acknowledging that there is a serious crisis and we are doing our best to share the experience with our customers – a problem shared is a problem halved. We are not offering platitudes or trying to diminish the significance of what is unfolding around us. But we are trying to offer some uplifting content. For one of our clients we are simply publishing one image a day on social media from their location with the message that we will visit in person once the lockdown is lifted.
Secondly, we are developing real and useful content which we will be ready to publish as the lifting of the lockdown approaches. This particular client is a golf club, and whilst people will be keen to get out of the house and back onto the golf course once they are able, there will be many concerns. How are the buggies disinfected between use? How will I pay for the round – will I have to go into the pro-shop and interact with people? Will you be disinfecting the flagsticks?
We are developing protocols for these eventualities and we are planning video sessions to demonstrate how we will protect our customers when they return.
All of this can be done in a positive way. Without either ignoring the elephant, nor diminishing its importance. And, please – do not try to tame it, you simply don’t know how. It’s going to be here for a while, and how we deal with its presence will reflect on us and our clients for the foreseeable future.