Please don't ghost your customers

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Most successful marketing campaigns rely on three key conditions: knowing your audience, knowing your goal is achievable, and knowing the best way to achieve it.

Well, that was then. Right now, as Covid-19 continues its worldwide calamity tour, we cannot be certain about any of those key conditions. The consumer market is unstable, ROI is impossible to predict, and many typical advertising avenues (out-of-home, for example) are now null and void.

And as a result, many brands are pulling the plug on their hard-grafted campaigns. The temptation, for those businesses affected, is to pipe down. To save budget and see how things pan out. Because if you can’t sell your product, what is there to say?

We would argue that there’s a lot. For customers, as for businesses, this is a period of uncertainty. People are seeking out pockets of normality as they experience this unprecedented upheaval. And the worst thing that could happen is for the world to go silent, brands included.

If you’ve been communicating with customers regularly for the past few months, ‘ghosting’ them (ending a relationship by suddenly withdrawing from all communication) may be a little short-sighted. Though that doesn’t mean churning out the same targeted ads you were pre-calamity. So, what can you do? We suggest that brands put their money where their mouth is and start talking.

This is an opportunity to strip your marketing back to the bare bones. Tell your customers how you feel. Tell them what you stand for. And build a campaign that reminds your audience of what your brand is all about. You’ll be thankful that you invested in customer loyalty when Covid-19 eventually finishes its grand tour.

A guide to creating an impactful campaign

First off, make sure what you’re planning is actually a positive-message campaign - not a lead-gen campaign masquerading as a positive-message campaign.

Think about how the current crisis feeds into your brand values. Is there a way for you to ‘show don’t tell’ that you value innovation or collaboration? This will help to steer your direction in the next step.

Think about what kind of approach you want to take for your campaign – will you:

  • Offer behind-the-scenes insight into how your business is weathering the storm, which may be useful for other businesses.
  • Showcase some of your efforts to help, whether that’s by supporting the NHS or reaching out to those in need.
  • Attempt to strengthen your community. Perhaps you could develop a group or a movement that will foster a sense of togetherness and allow people to (virtually) connect with each other.

Think about how you’ll deliver your campaign. For most brands, social media will be a lifeline, as it still allows direct communication with customers.

Damon McCollin-Moore, strategy director, ifour

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