To say life has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. would be an understatement. In fact, even the term “post-COVID” isn’t entirely accurate — the disease and its impact are something businesses, families and individuals are still dealing with every day.
That’s something to keep in mind as you communicate with your audience. Just as life and work have changed for you, they’ve also changed for the people you’re reaching.
Here are five things to consider as you’re marketing during coronavirus in this new and weird environment.
1. Their life might look very, very different than it did a few months ago.
Some families are still dealing with the challenges of working and schooling from home (which can be tough enough to deal with) or remembering to wash their hands for two “Happy Birthday to You’s.” Others are dealing with problems that have a greater, more lasting impact — job loss, business loss or even the loss of a family member or friend. For them, the COVID-19 pandemic means a lot more than just masks and handwashing, and you’ll want to respect that in the tone and content of your communications.
This isn’t to say that everything has to be dour, constantly walking on eggshells. The world needs humor and lighthearted happiness right now — where it’s appropriate. But anything that would come across as minimizing the impact of the pandemic probably wouldn’t be appropriate. And if you’re going to be writing, for instance, a blog post about what to do when money is tight, remember how extremely tight money is for some people, and frame your advice accordingly.
2. Policies for living vary from location to location.
If your audience is extremely localized — all in one town, for instance — this might be less of a problem. But restrictions for engaging with the world (masks required or not, restaurants serving meals inside or not, parks open or not) can be different in different localities.
Your audience might be able to support their local restaurants by putting on a mask and eating on the patio, or they might have to do it by calling in a take-out order and picking it up out front. They might be able to pick up a library book for their kids, or they might have to see if their library lends out e-books instead. They might be able to visit their doctor in person, or they might still have to make e-visits. If you’re making suggestions or announcing policies, it doesn’t hurt to offer a stay-at-home alternative to audience members who are still obliged to stay at home.
3. Any information you provide has to be completely accurate.
The world is providing plenty of conflicting, confusing information about the disease, healthcare, personal safety and living in a pandemic. Even if all you’re doing is advertising during COVID-19, you need to be a source of good information. Before you make a statement about hygiene, masks, distancing, numbers or anything else related to COVID-19, be sure to triple-check and make sure your facts are accurate. Rely as best you can on official sites ending in “.gov” to know your information is coming from reliable sources.
If you do this, you can be confident that you’re giving your audience something they desperately need right now: accurate information in a confusing world.
4. We don’t know what the next few months are going to look like.
Very little about COVID-19 living is predictable, and you never know when you and your audience will be thrown a curveball. COVID-19 marketing is the same way — be prepared to move quickly to edit an article or put out an announcement if the world changes suddenly. It can be frustrating, but if you’re looking for online content, it seems there’s always something to share or comment on.
In light of this, also be cautious about predictions for the future. Your blog post about youth sports this fall might end up needing a quick edit if basketball is canceled and football players start wearing masks.
5. You are in a position to be a source of support and comfort for your audience.
Your audience already looks to you and trusts you — that’s what makes them your audience. That gives you a lot of responsibility, but it also gives you a great opportunity to be comforting in a world full of chaos. Let them know that you’re walking it with them, that you’re committed to giving them good information and that you’re attentive to what’s going on in their lives. They’ll appreciate it, and they’ll respond with loyalty of their own. When you care, everybody wins.