It’s a new year, but I’m going to dispense with any notion of feeling refreshed. To be honest, January 2021 is feeling a lot like December 2020 Part 2: The Chaos Continues. But just because our brains feel fried doesn’t mean we can get away with using all the same old marketing strategies we used last year. So my mantra for this year is work smarter, not harder. Here are a few of my tips to help you get through your planning.
Communicate with Empathy During COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed the way we do everything, from where we work and eat to how we celebrate special occasions. Naturally, how we communicate with our stakeholders has changed, too. Before you try to persuade anyone to do anything -- join that demonstration, make that donation -- it’s always a good idea to read the room. Right now, the room is anxious and bored at best and may be suffering great loss at worst. That doesn’t mean we should avoid them. In fact, connecting is more important now than ever. But it does mean we need to make sure we’re using this moment to convey empathy for those we’re trying to connect with, otherwise you’ll communicate yourself into oblivion.
In a practical sense, that could mean acknowledging that more of your audience may be in a financial bind and rather than asking for donations or pushing merchandise, you should focus on building your trust and engagement with them. Offer a service pro bono if you can, take a survey on how they’re feeling or hold a virtual event to lift their spirits. On the flip side, you could find that your audience is staring at their screens all day, eager to do something from a safe physical distance and offer them an action they can take online or send them a fiery email about why they should get involved right now. The point is to know your audience, adjust your tone to the moment, and remind them that we’re all in this together -- advice you can take with you beyond a pandemic.
Leverage Cheaper Digital Ads to Craft Your Best Message
Digital advertising has been a rising trend for the last few years, but it’s even more important now that our main way of communicating is online. Luckily, it’s gotten more affordable and more targeted. Let’s say you’re launching a newsletter and you need sign-ups, or you’re launching an issue campaign and are looking to grow your SMS list. Facebook ads are an affordable and impactful way to start that acquisition pipeline. Because the cost per click for Facebook ads is pretty cheap, you can experiment with different messaging to see what moves your audience to engage with you the most.
Once you track your return on investment from these test campaigns, you can confidently take your most winning messages and invest more money into the same ads or into more expensive platforms like Google ads or digital news outlets. There’s no need to take a full-page ad out in the print version of the New York Times and cross your fingers hoping for the best. We have the tools to make sure our money is being well spent.
Invest in Micro-Influencers Over Celebrities
Once you have a winning message, you’ll want to spread it everywhere. But you don’t need Drake or Billy Eilish to sponsor your campaign for it to make an impact. In the age of Tik-Tok and Instagram-fame, anyone can be an influencer. The key is to understand who your audience looks up to and engages with on the daily. If your campaign is on mental health, for example, it could be more worth your time to build a relationship with a micro-influencer in the space like a popular therapist vlogger who has tens of thousands of followers - solely following for mental health support - versus an A-list celebrity with millions of followers.
It sounds counterintuitive, but you have the potential to get way more out of your relationship with the micro-influencer. In this case, the therapist is more likely to offer more frequent advice, tactics and resources on the topic, building deep trust with their followers. That means when they promote your campaign, their followers are more likely to get engaged because the recommendation is coming from a trusted source. It’s the same psychology that makes word of mouth from close friends and family still one of the best ways to score a loyal customer.
Another plus -- it is much more feasible to build mutually-beneficial relationships with micro-influencers than with mega-influencers. If you focus your efforts here, you could have an army of them that would out-value any one celebrity influencer.
Once you set these strategies in motion, they’ll both level-up the impact of your campaigns and make your job as a communicator easier when everything else in life still feels hard.
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