From the Field: How 3 Clients Switched Marketing Gears During COVID-19

Rob Quincy

By Rob Quincy on May 18, 2020

Back in late January, us marketers were cruising along at warp speed. The economy was roaring, our search marketing campaigns were humming and our marketing emails were racking up opens and clicks. And suddenly... well, you know what happened.

It’s clear that business as usual isn’t effective in a crisis, and that’s particularly true in marketing. On the positive side, there are billions of prospects out there who suddenly have more time to spend online. When times are tough, however, people tend to engage with what’s most important to them and block out everything else. During the first several weeks of the pandemic, companies that continued on with status quo messaging were either dismissed as tone deaf or were ignored altogether. The best crisis messaging lets prospects know that you’re genuinely there to make their lives better, positions the customer as the hero of the story and offers something beneficial to them.

Below are three examples of how we’ve helped our clients adjust their content to be relevant and resonate in today’s challenging environment.

Promoting Safety, Building Pride and Brand Loyalty

Tingley produces safety and recreational footwear and apparel. Because a significant portion of their market is industrial and agriculture – essential industries – it was tempting to continue with product-focused emails and web promotions. However, Tingley wanted to make certain their e-commerce customers felt cared for during the crisis and help out cash-strapped businesses and individuals. They promoted free shipping on web orders using the promo code STAYSAFE, which acknowledged the crisis and tied in perfectly with their safety branding.

We also helped them launch an ambassador program to celebrate the hard-working everyday heroes who have been risking infection to keep America’s roads, job sites and farms up and running. The program invites Tingley customers doing essential work to post pictures of themselves and their coworkers in action on social media along with #TingleyTough. The campaign is helping to generate pride among Tingley’s customer base and is building a brand community – not to mention generating priceless free impressions for the brand.

PPE Producer Communicates Globally Through Video

As a leading manufacturer of gloves, face masks, protective suits and other PPE for millions of healthcare, research and coronavirus cleanup workers around the world, Ansell immediately found themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Ansell’s global team spent much of February and early March working around the clock to keep their own workers safe, ramp up production at their factories and shore up their distribution channels. The Ansell communications team quickly realized it was essential to put out a global communication to inform employees, customers, distributors and the general public about the steps the company was taking to ensure their PPE products continue to get to the people who need them.

They tapped us to help write and produce several videos showing how their PPE is being used during the crisis, with Ansell CEO Magnus Nicolin highlighting employee safety measures, donation efforts and the challenges they had to overcome to increase production. Their video message for employees was translated into 17 languages and seen around the world.

Within the first week of publishing, the public version of the video reached three million people, had 500,000 full views and received over 5,000 positive comments on Facebook. By getting in front of the story, Ansell was able to control the narrative, help ease public fears and make customers prouder than ever to do business with them.

Watch A Message from Ansell During the COVID-19 Crisis Video Here

Connecting With Customers at a Virtual Event

When it comes to events, such as tradeshows, avoiding large groups of people is just not possible. As a response, many industry events are being cancelled, postponed or shifting to a virtual venue so that participants can still tune in.

A leader in data migration, Valiance needed to quickly change strategies when one of their biggest tradeshow events – Veeva R&D Summit Europe – announced that this year’s edition would be a digital event. At a live tradeshow, we would normally have helped Valiance put together a themed booth with eye-catching graphics that told people passing by who they were and how they could help them. They would chat with people in the booth, set follow-up meetings, give talks on the big stage and hand out fun tchotchkes.

This year, four subject matter experts from Valiance recorded presentations from their homes via Zoom. They were careful to use decent lighting, steady cameras and professional microphones. Though they were in different time zones and didn’t record their parts at the same time, the team even thought to introduce each other as they passed the baton to the next speaker. We did some presentation cleanup, color corrected and edited together a roughly 20-minute presentation that comes off quite professionally. The session will then be followed by another 20 minutes of live Q&A with the four speakers.

We’ll also use email marketing to offer presentation access to attendees after the event, and may use portions of the presentation as assets on the Valiance website. The new scenario makes the best of an unusual situation, and gives the Basking Ridge-based software company several new ways to connect with their audience.

These three anecdotes from the marketing trenches highlight some clever ways that companies are adjusting their messages and tactics during this crisis. They also underscore the importance of viewing your customers as the hero of the story and genuinely trying to be as helpful and transparent as possible.

If you need help reaching your customers during these trying times, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

About Ridge Marketing

Ridge Marketing is an agency that specializes in crafting creative digital assets and using websites, search, advertising and email to ensure that the right prospects interact with your brand and become loyal customers.