How COVID-19 Has Changed Marketing Forever

2020 has certainly been a year no one was prepared for. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each and every one of our daily lives and changed the way businesses operate, including how we market those businesses, and the pest control industry is no exception. As marketers, it is our job to navigate through uncertain times and adapt our messaging and campaigns to ensure we are engaging with our audience while also remaining sensitive during times of crisis. It is also important for marketers to remember that while this global crisis is drastically affecting businesses worldwide, it is, at the same time, significantly impacting consumers on a personal level as well. According to an ongoing study from Entrepreneur, 76 percent of consumers have recently picked up new habits, behaviors and routines in the wake of COVID-19, and of those, nearly all (89 percent) responded that they plan to keep some of those new habits beyond the pandemic.

Consumers are not the same as they were three months ago, one month ago, or even a week ago, and they will not be the same three months from now, either. As we all attempt to understand what this “new normal” is, marketers must be nimble and adapt to this constantly evolving audience. To help, we’ll take a look at some brands that were able to expertly navigate the current health crisis, and how marketers can take those learnings and implement them into their own campaigns and overall messaging strategy to better connect with consumers during this sensitive time.Opens in modal lightbox

“WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”

This pandemic is unchartered territory for us all as we come together to socially distance and wear masks to protect not just ourselves, but each other. As a result, it is crucial consumers feel supported and understood by the brands they know and trust. According to Forbes, in December 2019, the best-performing emotion for marketers to invoke in order to engage with consumers was gratification, so many created marketing messages that had a call to action. However, as of April 2020, the best-performing emotions for marketers to invoke in consumers were gratitude and safety. As such, marketing messages that instill intimacy and trust between brands and consumer audiences have resonated with the public as they emphasize this overall feeling of solidarity.

One such brand that has stood out as a leader during this time is Nike. Their “play inside, play for the world” campaign encourages consumers to remain active, but do so inside or in a way that supports the collective effort to socially distance to remain safe and healthy. To add further weight behind their campaign and increase its impact, Nike also announced that they are committing more than $15 million to COVID-19 response efforts. At its core, Nike has always valued teamwork and the aspect of working together, and through this campaign they have stayed true to their core values while also adjusting to appropriately communicate with their consumers.

Nike did not need to sacrifice their core values or completely change their marketing language in order to support consumers, but instead used their founding principles to let consumers know they are listening to them, supporting them and giving back to help make the world a safer place. While a huge international brand, they are a great example of how companies of any size can adjust their marketing messages during times of crisis. While their efforts were large in scale, smaller companies can emulate this showing of solidarity by encouraging customers to give back in some way, creating a company matching program, or donating to local charities.Opens in modal lightbox

AUTHENTIC STORYTELLING

In addition to the importance of solidarity, it is equally important for marketers to tell stories that matter and acknowledge the reality of the situation we are all living in. From healthcare professionals to teachers, grocery store clerks and utility workers, professionals across every industry have risked their lives on the frontlines to help see us through these trying times.

To show their appreciation, personal care brand Dove released a video called “Courage is Beautiful” to thank the essential workers that have sacrificed their own health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic to help those in need. The video features various essential workers with marks on their faces from wearing masks, goggles and other personal protective equipment while on the job. Dove, whose normal slogan is “Real Beauty,” realized the idea of beauty related to self-esteem seemed superficial for right now—and so “Courage is Beautiful” was born.Opens in modal lightbox

As members of the pest control industry, we are all responsible for helping to protect our customers’ health, food, properties, families and the quality of their lives by controlling pest problems in and around their homes. Marketers can implement aspects of Dove’s successful campaign through messages of appreciation, thanking employees who are going inside homes to help solve pest problems despite the personal risks to themselves. By highlighting the essential work your employees are performing during this time, your audience will start to see that they, and your company, are there for them no matter what, helping to foster an ongoing partnership built on trust and loyalty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world in its entirety. From our daily lives and routines, business operations, schools and the way our children learn, to the sports and entertainment world and beyond, it is safe to say nothing will be as it was before. As marketers, the way we react and adapt to these times of change and uncertainty and communicate with our consumer audiences is what defines us. By letting customers know you are listening to and supporting them and highlighting important and authentic stories relevant to current events, you will help engender that feeling of solidarity with your consumer base, setting you apart from competitors that are perhaps taking a backseat at this time.