A Time for Brands to Be Human

Marketing in the era of COVID-19.

By Jacqueline Loch, EVP of Customer Innovation for SJC Content and Chair of The Content Council

This is not business as usual, and we are all in this together, finding our way through uncharted territory, one day at a time.

How you treat your clients as an agency and how brands treat consumers now, will affect how you and your company are perceived when this is over. With impact to consumer mobility, media consumption and how consumers interact with retailers, combined with the likelihood that COVID-19 is a long game, an updated content strategy is a part of doing business in this new economy.

Many of our clients at SJC are consumer brands and national retailers. Here are some of the strategies that we are using to pivot their content marketing plans:

  1. Review your pre-COVID-19 Content Strategy: You don’t want to appear tone-deaf, out-of-touch or disrespectful to your customers. Keep what is still relevant and pull back the rest for when the time is right to distribute.
  2. Flexible is the New Content Strategy: Shift from tactical sales messaging of your priority products and services, to service-driven content that will help your customers now. Focus on service content, on being human and on being helpful. Focus on what matters now and be flexible to adapt next week’s plan, to what matters next week.
  3. Focus on Producing Content for Direct-to-Consumer Channels: Produce new and relevant content for Amazon, owned media, social media posts, live streams and e-newsletter marketing to inform, inspire and educate consumers on all that is available on e-commerce channels.
  4. Listen. Inform. Inspire. Entertain. Help: Focus on social sentiment and key search terms around your products and services. There’s a wealth of consumer-generated digital information that you can use to re-direct your content marketing into something that is relevant and helpful in a meaningful way.
  5. Content Task Force: We are working daily with many of our clients in a COVID-19 content task force capacity. We are using daily video conference calls as check-ins with all stakeholders, from client teams to client and inter-agency teams,  working in a collaborative and flexible way like never before.
  6. Be Human, not Corporate: We are all in this together and your brand is about people. Use authentic language and focus on getting the right message out at the right time. Consumers want to know that you are taking care of your own community; how you’re treating your staff and how you are doing your part to be a good corporate citizen.

Here are some best-in-class examples of content strategies from two companies that we are proud to call our clients:

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • Shoppers Drug Mart updates its website to share is latest initiatives, including online doctor access.
  • Loblaw puts out a video message from Galen Weston addressing its significant changes at the store level.
  • PC Optimum sends email updates from Galen Weston.

Sobeys

An excerpt from The Content Council’s in-depth article, Crisis Marketing 2020: Advice for Content Marketers