20 May

Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

By Libby Hagedon, Account Executive

Look for the helpers. – Fred Rogers

Wake up. Check news. Go downstairs. Feed the kids. Take the long commute from the kitchen to the home office, open up the laptop, and start on today’s work. Sound familiar? It’s like the movie Groundhog Day in my house these days as we work from home every day while our healthcare workers and essential employees battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the public health crisis began (and we naively thought it would be over in two weeks), companies sent out email communications about how they were handling and mitigating the impacts of the virus at their workplace. And when I say companies, I mean every company. So many companies that I had a heyday unsubscribing from all of them. Most of those emails fell on deaf ears – and most marketing efforts during the crisis are having a hard time breaking through the noise.

Fear mongering doesn’t work. Exploiting the situation in your business’s favor doesn’t work. Doing what you usually do isn’t quite working right now. So, what works?

A quote from Mr. Fred Rogers comes to mind as we search for ways to resonate.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and am always comforted by realizing that there are so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

The most impactful marketing that is resonating today is not marketing at all, it’s actually public relations – it’s showing people who feel helpless how you are helping. Here are a few examples:

  1. Cincinnati’s own consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble is stepping up as a Force for Good, supporting their employees, consumers and communities. They are taking the necessary precautions in the workforce with temperature scans and work from home support. Their Charmin production team operationalized idle equipment in just two weeks to get Charmin to store shelves faster. Most impactful to the community, P&G’s in-kind contributions exceed $15 million dollars, along with donated products to families in need across the globe. In our own community, they have manufactured COVID-19 face shields to donate to Cincinnati Children’s, among other hospitals.
  2. Makino Inc., the Mason, Ohio-based global provider of advanced manufacturing technology and application support for metal-cutting and die/mold manufacturing industries, supports and services the machines of companies who are making the products that are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. Recently, they helped increase respirator production by 1,000% for KrisDee of South Elgin, Illinois.
  3. Local small business Proud Hound Coffee Roasters created a “Healthcare Bag of Coffee” to support nurses, doctors and healthcare workers who are working tirelessly. They partnered with The Christ Hospital, where each bag of coffee purchased will go directly to the healthcare workers, and Proud Hound will match that purchase with their own donation of a bag of coffee. Buyers can even add a message to healthcare workers to send a little extra hope along with their caffeine. To date, they have delivered more than 100 bags of coffee to The Christ Hospital.

In times of uncertainty, people are looking for a little bit of hope. When we are able to show others the human side of a company, we can give those tired, weary, anxious, uncertain people working from their home office a smile of hope.

And that is worth its weight in marketing gold.