Right now, it seems like everyone is talking about the current state of the world. From blog articles to social media posts to podcasts. If you’re a marketer you’re probably wondering – how do I market my brand to my customers right now? And should I even be marketing?

Firstly, the answer is, yes. And secondly, authenticity is crucial. 

In the age where consumers understand they’re being marketed to, brands need to get a little more creative with how they’re delivering personalised and sensitive messages and content. Adding to the marketing conundrum, is many consumers are well aware of personas and how organisations target based on common characteristics. 

This creates a tight balancing act for marketers. On the one hand, what was once their ‘magic’ now happens in plain sight – anyone can see, for example, the data social platforms hold to enable advertisers to target them, or the locations of a Facebook business page’s administrators and the range of ads they are running at any point in time. On the other, advertisers still need to perform these ‘magic’ tricks, to reach those audiences on the right channel, with the right message, at the right time.  

No matter how much data and analysis is fuelling an interaction, it’s more important than ever for brands to speak to the individual in a way that is authentic. Because when a brand creates any crisis-related content for content sake, it can damage trust in just a few false moves. 

If the marketing team communicates in opposition to established brand voice, tone and style, or contradicts the brand’s values and messages, customers are quick to relay their reactions to friends and family. Add social media to the mix, and those mistakes get quickly amplified. 

Even for marketers that are successfully managing that balancing act, authenticity is tough to measure. Start by looking at your branding and messaging through your customers’ eyes and their current challenges, rather than your own priorities. What do you want them to think and feel? Then, with some help from these dos and don’ts, start reminding everyone why you can help them:

 

Do: Make your brand marketing clear, sensitive and engaging


Start by thinking about the messages that government bodies are putting out. They’re all around staying home, staying safe and keeping healthy and entertained while doing those things. 

Most companies and brands can authentically connect with one or more of them. For example, Salesforce customer and giant ecommerce leader Showpo is creating fun Instagram Stories around working from home and what to wear. And you guessed it – they’re a fashion label. It shows you don’t have to directly address the crisis to create authentic marketing that stays true to your brand and addresses your customer’s pain points during this time.

 

Don’t: Use look-at me methods to grab the attention of your customers 


Fear-inducing blog headline? Not unless you want to appear next to a bad news article.  Pictures of popular places that are empty? Maybe share images that focus more on the customers interests and problems that relate to what you offer instead. 

Digital media includes all kinds of ways for organisations to stand out, but think about what happens after the customer has noticed you. If they turn to the core message and it’s unrelated to what attracted their interest, or isn’t compelling or meaningful to them, they’ll just feel cheated, no matter how attention-grabbing your opening salvo. 

 

Do: Own your mistakes


Let’s say you want to try marketing through Instagram for the first time. It can be a great channel, but marketing primarily through images might be new territory, and the expectations of Instagram audiences can clash with corporate brand guidelines. 

Marketing on Instagram could come off as too stuffy and corporate for Instagram, or too fluffy for your brand. Be upfront with your senior team about why you see a channel like that as valuable to your audience and for your marketing strategy, and that you’re experimenting as you go. 

In fact, why not try asking customers for comments and suggestions about what they’d like to see from you on a channel like Instagram? Show the behind-the-scenes of a photo or video shoot that lets them understand the effort you’re putting in to telling them relevant stories. 

We all create some content that falls flat occasionally. Be prepared to own up to mistakes, laugh at them along with your audience and show you’ve learned next time around. 

 

Don’t: Be hypocritical 


It sounds obvious, but there are plenty of examples of where companies will talk about values that they don’t really stand behind. This could include firms that offer platitudes about the environment but create a lot of internal waste, or who tout the importance of diversity and inclusion but have an all-male board of directors. Walk your talk

Customers often pay more attention to brands than companies realise. Make sure if you’re marketing around doing good during the coronavirus pandemic that it aligns with your company's values.

 

Do: Make your customers brand ambassadors


Even when marketing materials are well-produced, customers might ask, “But do they really know what it’s like to be me?”. Let your customers answer this question – share their stories of success and motivation, told in their voices. 

This is where case studies and testimonials can be key to a brand’s identity, because it means you’re putting customers first and not letting your own brand get in the way. You can do the same thing by featuring customers in interviews via videos and podcasts. 

Successful marketing right now demands an innovative and creative approach to getting on the same page as your customers. Do it with a light and authentic touch, and to thine own brand be true.

For more marketing insights watch the Marketing: The New Decade Of Data, Trust And Engagement session at World Tour Sydney.