As our world changes by the hour, businesses must revisit and update their messaging.
Normally, we read content and don’t think twice about when it was created. Yesterday? Two weeks ago? It doesn’t usually matter.
This has all changed in the last few weeks. Now more than ever, businesses need to be conscious of their content. Messaging that might have been effective weeks ago can now come across as irrelevant and insensitive to customers.
Show Customers That You’re on Top of It
We’ve already seen companies make this mistake. Pre-scheduled content is now hitting inboxes and making companies appear behind and out of touch.
We spoke with Christina Morris Wegner, VP of Marketing at The Vollrath Company, to hear her input on the current marketing landscape. She shares how Vollrath is:
Really making sure that we aren’t being tone-deaf and that we are holding back some content that was maybe in the cue…we try to get a quarter ahead on our content. But before it gets deployed, we’re able to just reassess the message…and I would say that we’ll have heightened sensitivity around what’s happening to make sure it is relevant. The right message at the right time to the right people, I think will be pretty critical through all of this.
Brands need to remember that customers are hyperaware in times like these. Whether a business has halted production completely or is continuing to move forward—as is the case with many manufacturers—customers want to see stability and alertness. By reassessing your content and adjusting as necessary, you’re showing customers that you’re on top of things and can pivot through challenging times.
Jamie Orlando, Director of Sales and Marketing at Butler Technologies Inc., shared with us the company’s deliberations over new messaging. He discusses how the company, “Decided that the appropriate response was ‘personal and warm.’ The human factor needed to be the focus of our response. Business is important but one of our core values is being united as a team and as a family.”
As companies are adjusting their content, they can follow the lead of other manufacturers and prioritize human connections over business connections.
What Can Manufacturers Be Communicating Instead?
You’ve gone back and adjusted your content. You’ve communicated with customers what you’re doing as responsible social citizens. So, what’s next? How can you stay connected with customers without sounding repetitive or insensitive?
Marketers can create or reposition content that’s currently relevant for customers. For example, Wegner shares how her team is launching a podcast that was in the works for a while, but never executed. The podcast features the company’s in-house chef and will be used to provide valuable content for food equipment distributors, Vollrath’s client base.
Companies need to look at their customers and see how their needs have shifted. This can lay the groundwork for a revamped content strategy. Wegner notes the importance of being present and closely communicating with people on the ground. She shares that:
We’re working with our dealer reps and understanding as restaurants are starting to change over from fine dining restaurants to now being delivery or pickup at the curb…understanding what type of equipment they need instantly in order to do that… We’re working on things that are really going to help people keep their business up and running.
Understanding and adjusting to your customers’ needs is going to play a key role in future messaging. Rather than promoting new products or technologies, manufacturers can show how they’re helping their customers in times of need. The foodservice industry has been hit particularly hard in the past few weeks and Vollrath is reframing both its operations and its messaging to support these businesses.
Reassess, But Keep Moving Forward
While brands should be closely monitoring their content strategy, this doesn’t mean that they should go radio silent out of fear. When we asked Wegner whether she believes in dialing back or doubling down, she opted for the latter, saying that she comes from the school of thought where:
Doubling down is the best approach and I have seen the results of being able to double down…I don’t know that I will actually “double” my marketing in this time…But I think that in order for us to grow our following, to make sure that the message is seen—because we think that it’s super relevant and important to our audience—we’re going to put some money behind it. And I think that it’s an important time to show the community that we’re out there to support them and we’re listening to them.
When it comes to the best approach, no company truly has the answer. Brands are navigating uncharted waters and need to rely on experience, teamwork and confidence to keep customers at ease and continue moving forward. But before looking ahead, companies must retrace their steps and adjust their content as necessary. It is beneficial for any business to say the right thing at the right time. But it is far more beneficial to avoid saying the wrong thing at any time.
Paul Kiesche is the president and creative director at Aviate Creative, a branding, marketing and graphic design agency with an edge in manufacturing. Paul applies over 20 years of experience and award-winning work in branding and marketing to the manufacturing industry. In addition, Paul is an adjunct professor, speaker and author of branding, graphic design and marketing subjects. His objective is to help educate and grow manufacturers through effective, proven strategies.