Now in the midway point of 2020, the phrase never-ending news cycle has never made more sense. . Seemingly, one thing after enough has sprung up to ensure that there has yet to be a dull moment. From the largest global pandemic since the Spanish Flu to social justice protests, the news agenda has been busy to say the least.
Despite our current landscape, brands still have an obligation to find their footing in the market and continue to drive value to their customers, and potentially find new ones. But, what does this look like in the uncharted waters that is 2020? Everywhere marketers look, there is another twist or turn that can throw a major wrench in any plans or strategies. Even after it seemed like life was beginning to return to somewhat normal, COVID-19 cases began to spike around the country, and the media focus was right back to where we were several months ago, leading to more uncertainty for brands looking to plot out their messaging. So, what does the future hold?
A Content Crossroads
We seem to have come to a saturation point, where people have had enough with the ‘doom and gloom’ of 2020, and are rather looking for other content and stories apart from the virus. Our recent survey shows half of consumers are desperate non-COVID-19 related news. As COVID-19 fatigue sets in, brands will have to make the decision of whether to pivot their messaging away from the virus, or stay the course of the current media agenda.
However, the true answer is not so black and white. It is very dependent on your audience and the goods and services you provide. While some potential customers may be tired of COVID-19 related content, it doesn’t mean that certain messages are not still valuable. It matters how the message is framed within the context of our current landscape so that value is being added to an audience, not just more virus-related noise.
One Message Doesn’t Fit All
For certain industries like retail or logistics with heavy physical touchpoints, COVID-19 related content is still going to be impactful. As uncertainty grows about the viability of in-store shopping, content pointing to shifts in retail models or a hybrid-store of the future could offer insights for retailers to rethink their approach. If you are a retail-tech provider, this could be a smart way to weave your message into the current pandemic-focused conversation, and still add value in the process.
On the other hand, for digital exclusive verticals like cloud services or telecommunications, the appetite for COVID-19 related content may be diminished by this point. There aren’t many human to human touch points, as this sector has been fueled by remote work. Any further COVID-19 messaging could be overkill and turn-off audiences who may be looking for more forward-thinking content.
However, as we have seen thus far this year, things can change at a moment’s notice. Brands must be able to pivot where need be and have the flexibility to tweak their message as the market dictates. They must be tapped into the new needs of their audience and open to potentially new opportunities the pandemic has presented.
Embracing Strategic Pivots
A great example of this has been the eCommerce platform Shopify. The company saw the incoming eCommerce surge the pandemic brought and shifted their strategic plans to narrow in on a growing customer base of independent merchants.
The platform saw an increased demand from new online sellers, some in new verticals like grocery (and even farmers) looking for new ways to sell their products in the pandemic. Thus, Shopify rolled out a new cloud-based bundle of services to help users manage expenses, pay bills, anticipate cash-flow problems and optimize deliveries. The results of this shift in strategy and messaging? A 62% increase in new users of the platform since the start of the pandemic, and a partnership with Walmart to further expand the online marketplace for these new users. By being open to new opportunities and flexible to tweak current plans, Shopify was able to aid many small online retailers, while setting their platform up for long-term success.
While many people are exhausted from hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that the virus will still maintain control of the news agenda for quite some time. It’s up to brands to dictate whether their offering can provide value during the crisis and to pivot their messaging accordingly, or see if their efforts are better spent elsewhere. While audiences may soon be sick of COVID-19 related content, they will always be intrigued by ways they can improve their business. It is up to brands to strike a balance between the two.