Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

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Last week, I joined a client for a virtual brainstorm.  The focus: Our marketing next steps in these trying times.

We established a rule up-front: For an idea to move forward, it has to serve our customers.  In other words, if it benefits only us, it does not advance.  It goes to either the “rework” or “trash” pile.

This is a good rule for new ideas in general.  Two decades ago, Doug Hall and his team at Eureka! Ranch found that new-product concepts with a high level of “overt benefit” outperformed concepts with a low level by 3:1.

It makes intuitive sense that our products and services should make lives better.  But this is easily forgotten when we’re scrambling to react to sudden disruption.

And to be sure, most businesses have been dealt a tough hand right now.  But the important question is this:

How will you play it? **

If we start from a posture of fear or of covering our backsides, our ideas are going to tilt toward the self-serving.

If we start from a posture of generosity and service, our ideas will be more beneficial to all.

And if we’ve always treated service as a cultural imperative, not a marketing claim, then we’ve probably earned plenty of goodwill over the years.  That comes in handy at a time like this.

Like you, I’ve received a lot of Coronavirus emails from brands.  Most appear to have been written for the CEO’s benefit, not the recipient’s.

Our clients and customers – our humans – don’t need a boilerplate email right now.  They need more. 

They need our best. Let’s give them that.

** I named my consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, after exactly the concept of making the most of the hand you’re dealt.  In Texas Hold ‘Em poker, 3-2 is an underdog to any two cards your opponent is holding.  But what matters is not so much the cards you’re dealt, but what you do with them.

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew is a former CMO who helps brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He’s based near Portland, in Oregon wine country.

Copyright 2020 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.