Yet even as civilization wades neck-deep into the crisis, many health and wellness companies are simply staying the course. They’re sending out emails with subject lines like “Is Tilapia Healthy?”—blasting out old content that was obviously planned in the pre-corona era. This is costing them.
Other companies have gone the other direction, positioning their product as a cure for COVID-19. But not only does this seem like shameless profiteering, it’s also drawing the attention of government authorities.
The trick is to find a balance. You can’t ignore coronavirus, but you need to be mindful when talking about it.
I’ve been helping my clients—primarily health and wellness startups—find this balance in their marketing materials. I wrote this short guide to share my insights. Hope you find it useful.
#1: Don’t ignore the 800-pound gorilla
Right now, coronavirus is top of mind for everyone. This means that all marketing communications should implicitly or overtly deal with the crisis. If a message was written in pre-COVID times, it won’t resonate.
The issue is, many companies prepare marketing content months in advance. Instead of tabling this content, some of these brands are publishing on the original schedule.
Let me give you an example. A well-known health influencer (who’s name I won’t mention) recently sent out an email on the benefits of massage for immune health. Need I say more?
My point is: You pay a price for shelving old content, but it’s a necessary move. The price for not shelving the content is far greater.
#2: Provide useful content
The crisis has uncorked a fresh can of problems for your customers. They may be:
- Ill with COVID-19 or anxious about getting it
- Struggling to focus at work
- Worried about money
- Concerned about supply shortages or food
- Unemployed with no job prospects
- Confused about how to help those who are less fortunate
- Unmotivated to continue their diet and exercise routines
Some of these problems are more serious than others. And some of them you won’t be able to do anything about. But when you identify the concerns of your customers, you also identify ways in which you can help.
Try this exercise. Take your “ideal” customer (you should have a good idea of who you’re selling to), and list out all the problems they might be experiencing right now. Then decide which of those problems your brand could address through articles, emails, or company policy.
Here’s the point: Talk to your customer about her problems—including how to solve them—and she will listen.
#3: Find the right tone
Tone is everything during this crisis. There are many ways to get it wrong, and only a few ways to get it right.
Honesty should be the overriding principle in your communications. Describe, frankly, how the crisis has affected your business, then say what your company is doing about it.
Should you strive for a compassionate tone? It’s a good idea, but it’s easy to overdo it. People see through that stuff. Again, just be genuine.
Finally, if you’re contributing directly to the community, let people know about it in a straightforward way. For example, Elemental Labs has donated over 350,000 boxes of LMNT Recharge (an electrolyte drink mix) to help front line heroes stay hydrated. And Thrive Market has launched a COVID-19 Relief fund, with CEO Nick Green donating his 2020 salary to the cause.
Customers of these companies no doubt feel good knowing their money is helping those less fortunate. Longer term, these efforts won’t be forgotten.
Final thoughts: Stay flexible
“The wind does not break the tree that bends.” That’s an old Tanzanian proverb, and it applies nicely to the current turmoil.
The wind, of course, is COVID-19. The rigid companies will likely snap in the storm. The flexible companies, on the other hand, will survive at much higher rates, having formed strong bonds with their customers during these turbulent times.
These are the companies willing to adapt their marketing, to meet their customers where they are, and to provide something useful during a crisis. A year from now, the world will be much different, but these companies will still be around.
Brian Stanton is a writer and content strategist who helps health and wellness startups build more traffic and trust with customers. He’s also the author of Keto Intermittent Fasting, a book recently endorsed by New York Times bestselling author Mark Sisson.