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On Tone and Timing: Messaging in This Time of Uncertainty

Posted on Categories Marketing CommunicationsTags

Marketing messaging during a crisis requires tact. Use the pandemic as an opportunity to build trust. Learn how to reframe messaging to elevate your brand.

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging everyone, personally and professionally. With folks on edge and emotions running high, tone and timing – tact – is everything in communications. As for marketing communications, being human and helpful will go far in retaining and attaining customers and establishing your business as a thought leader. Consider these ideas when formulating your marketing messaging to foster brand resilience in troubling times:

Be mindful of messaging.
Now more than ever, brands must be empathetic with an eye toward serving others. Savvy companies are building brand equity by serving communities in need, discounting products and services and pivoting to create products that serve the situation.

Your messaging throughout the pandemic can help you demonstrate empathy and level-headed leadership. However, first you must understand and be sensitive to your customers’ current headspace and needs. Like everyone else, customers seek to be validated during this time, and their “antennae” are quick to detect insincere messaging and content.

So tune into your customers’ needs, as they’ve most certainly changed. Ask for feedback. With our state’s economy opening up, we’ve witnessed businesses polling folks in Facebook groups and via email to gauge the public’s comfort level and expectations regarding restaurant dining, retail shopping and returning to the office. This is a smart move that builds connection among your community.

Think about how you can reframe your messaging to support what your customers are needing in this moment. Ensure your messaging isn’t “coming out of nowhere.” It’s OK to be open about your values and purpose and how your own business may have shifted in light of the current state. Be authentic, be honest and tell your customers if you’ve had to make tough choices for your business in order to serve them. Additionally, consider your visual imagery to make sure you are not giving off the wrong message. Again, authenticity is important – consumers are smart and can see through your tone.

Realize that for some businesses, it’s business as usual and their customers are counting on their products and services. These businesses have important COVID-19 messaging to disseminate, so being informative, straightforward and timely is critical.

Audit and adjust.
Now that you have adjusted your messaging to incorporate customer COVID-19 needs, review current campaigns to check for tone and timing. Are you offering helpful, educational content in line with your products and services? For example, can you educate and offer insight on the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) or other legislation as it relates to your customers?

Our legal client, BoyarMiller, moved swiftly to educate its clients about new legislation regarding the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and how it relates to their businesses. It is hosting a webinar series, providing attorney insight on pandemic-related legal issues and is offering all coronavirus-related content as an ungated resource center web page:


Additionally, consider curating and sharing useful content from partners. Taking this one step further – could you partner with other businesses in this effort? Pandemic or not, it’s cool to be helpful, it’s fun to collaborate with others and offering valuable content builds trust in your brand.

Finally, consider how you are reaching customers. With the explosion of video conferencing, now’s a good time to explore new media formats – like webinars or live video on social channels – for reaching customers and delivering content.

After taking in these considerations, adjust your messaging, your offering and content strategy accordingly.

Lead with compassion.
Our COVID-19 marketing messaging strategy might be summed up like this:
Be human. Help customers and your community. Be straightforward.

We’re convinced that being message-aware and cultivating empathy in your marketing messaging are ways to connect and build trust that will grow brand equity, encourage resiliency and foster thought leadership. In the end, perhaps we’ll find that the silver lining of COVID-19 is businesses will emerge stronger with a bit more heart, more human, connected and thriving. After all, we’re in this together.

Get our checklist, Top 4 Marketing Messaging Considerations During COVID-19, to ensure you are aligning messaging during the pandemic.

Heather ManesCreative and growth driven marketing professional with experience in integrated marketing strategies, brand development, digital marketing, CRM, social media, promotions and sales support programs.