Striking the right tone in extraordinary times

How to approach your company’s messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic

Over the last few weeks, companies have reached out to me to help them urgently address their messaging. COVID-19 has rocked every aspect of life and has left marketing professionals uncertain on how best to move forward. The number one question I’m being asked is: “How do I strike the right tone during this crazy, unprecedented time?”

The answer is that, whether you’re a SaaS startup or a yoga studio, now is the time for more meaningful messaging. The world has changed. No one has time for BS. We’re all suddenly seeking connection, support and inspiration.

Here are a few tips on how to communicate with customers right now.

Being real beats being polished

No one feels anything for a stilted, corporate-sounding statement — especially now. So don’t talk about how your commitment to your company mission is stronger than ever because of the virus. No one cares about that. People are living in a new world and the old way doesn’t apply here. Instead, meet people where they’re at. Say something heartfelt and human. If you can offer support, get straight to the point about it. And write it like you’d say it in conversation with someone. Real beats perfect right now.

See things through your customers’ eyes

Messaging should always consider your customer’s situation. But right now, it’s critical, or else your brand will come off sounding tone-deaf. The world has changed for all of us in different ways. Not saying anything still says something. Review all your messaging through the lens of your customers’ new reality. If it doesn’t support their current needs, feelings and goals, then revise it.

Make your value clear and uber-relevant

Now’s the time to be crystal clear about the value you can offer people — and that value needs to be uber-relevant. As I mentioned before, no one has time for BS or beating around the bush.If you have something to offer, state it in plain language. Reposition the benefits of your product or service to provide specific, meaningful value to people right now.

Be truthful and positive

I was working with a major retail brand that felt uncomfortable incorporating COVID-19 into their messaging because their brand stood for happiness and enjoying life. They wanted to be current but feared they would sound depressing. I recommended that they be honest and speak to the reality of the situation, while maintaining a positive outlook. You can acknowledge the challenges and express hope for the future. No one expects your company to have all the answers.

These times amplify how communication should be

I believe this time is shining a light on how brands should always communicate. The above tips have always applied to messaging — now, they’re essential.

Many businesses are being real, genuine and caring in their communications. There is more humanness behind the words. I hope it sets a tone that continues when we’re out of these challenging times.

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