What’s the right messaging when customers are divided about reopening? [Video]

As lockdowns begin lifting, businesses have to consider how their reopening might be perceived by customers. While some customers are eager to return to their pre-pandemic activities, others are reluctant for fear of a second wave of infections. During our brand marketing session of Live with Search Engine Land, Cultivative’s Amy Bishop, Clix Marketing’s Michelle Morgan and Survata’s Chris Kelly discussed how their clients are thinking about the issue and the type of messaging that’s most advantageous when audiences are split.

“It’s becoming just so fragmented in the different opinions and it’s becoming really polarized, so I think brands have to be a little bit careful about what they say because it could rub one group the wrong way,” Bishop said, adding that, in order to appeal to as many customers as possible, “being able to share your message of, ‘Here are the different ways we can operate; here are your options,’ I think will be important.”

“I think that . . . it’s something where you kind of need to see if you can find a lane where you can fit in the middle, but there really might just be a little bit of brand playing into it; of ‘what company are you?’” said Morgan, noting that some businesses’ decisions and messaging may also be dictated by their immediate financial needs. When the only options are reopening as soon as possible or closing permanently, businesses should lean in with their messaging, Morgan advised. “Trying to pander to everybody usually means that you’re talking to nobody,” she said.

“A lot of attention is already being given to, ‘Hey if this comes back in the fall, what do we do? Let’s not be caught flat-footed again,’” said Kelly. Some of the CMOs he’s spoken to are planning safety-related messaging for the impending reopening phase, but are also building contingency plans in case of a coronavirus resurgence in the fall.

Why we care. Some audiences may be hesitant to shed social distancing measures at this time and others may be yearning to resume their regular lives as quickly as possible. Knowing how customers feel about returning to your business should guide your decision to reopen as well as the offerings and messaging that go along with that process.

Planning for the possibility of a COVID resurgence can also help your business respond quickly should the unfortunate situation arise. This may take some resources away from the immediate reopening effort, but brands that are prepared are more likely to succeed during and after a potential outbreak.

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More about marketing in the time of the coronavirus


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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