Words have weight.

And impact. And they tell a story. Marketing is all about telling the story. And success is defined by open rates, clicks, shares and tons of eyeballs. We measure, we calculate and we hope it goes viral.

Until it is a virus. And everything changes.

In the past 3 weeks, I counted over 100 subject lines with the “C” word in it. And for a while, I was opening every one. Spread. Contagion. Pandemic. The world was being written by Stephen King. And the more I looked at what was being said- the more I saw, marketing.

It’s easy to start emails and ads and posts with the “C” word and it works, people read and read.

But those emails are feeding fear and not really helping, or even marketing, in any real way. It’s hard to shop or even read when you are terrified. So we all (me included) need to bring love, and consideration to the time of Covid-19. I call it by its scientific name because in my mind, we survived Covid 1-18 and we’ll get through 19. This is not science- just my own little fantasy rationalization. We all have these coping mechanisms- like believing that you shouldn’t shake hands or kiss people but you couldn’t imagine not hugging your child- who is not terribly susceptible- but nothing CARRIES contagion like a 3-year old- those adorable little petri dishes – we can’t help but hug them.

But marketing/communicating, that we can help.

And we really want to. Whether you are talking about working from home, or your personal investments during the downturn, or home shopping when visiting an open house isn’t possible, you need to follow an old marketing rule. Don’t talk about yourself- or the problem. Talk about the problem you solve.

Don’t talk about the problem. Talk about the problem you solve.

Marketing, successful marketing, is all about relevance. The consumer needs to know- how can you help them. NOW. Let me explain.

I’ve been working with a computer security company. They were fielding a lot of calls for work-from-home access. Our email- to clients and prospects said- “Set up your work from home desktop today.” Preview said- “No technician visit required”. Another realtor friend said in his email- “View your new home without leaving home” Preview said- “360 Degree Hi-Res Tours Available”. A finance professional said “Five ways to protect your investments when things are uncertain”.

People need to go on with their lives.

Focussing on communicating ways to accomplish the things they need to do to get by helps people feel empowered.

And it actually helps. And you helped them- patting yourself on the back is ok- we all want to feel better! It’s certainly more helpful than charging people $40.00 for $2 respirator masks or $3.00 for a can of chick peas- I actually read about someone who paid that. Those stores will have to deal with their consciences. And the ultimate loss of business. People don’t forget that kind of behavior.

And speaking of $3 Chick Peas

I saw a picture on Facebook posted by Amanda Berlin, business and content strategist. She found shelves emptied of contents at Trader Joe’s and by necessity wound up purchasing her chickpeas at Whole Foods. A day later she announced with great sadness, that she was cancelling her much-anticipated “Pitch School” Event for businesswomen. Enrollment and cancellations and ultimately, consideration for her attendees made this the most considerate choice. When she posted the cancellation, the response from local entrepreneurs was one of gratitude, appreciation and promises of support for the event when it was rescheduled. In that thread she said the most hopeful thing I’ve read in what feels like a long, long series of bad news. She gave me permission to quote her:

Part of the evolution of feelings was this overwhelming certainty that the impact of the new iteration of all things will be better than what we had originally planned. ? Amanda Berlin

What if instead of just being all right- what if everything was going to be better?

Maybe Covid-19 gets more people working from home- using less fuel, polluting less air, shopping locally. Maybe the 3 weeks shut down allows a dad time to teach his daughter to do woodworking, or gives a working person time at home with an elderly pet or a pressed businesswoman time for one long, guilt-free bath. Amazing things can happen. The phrase is usually- “What’s the worst that can happen?” What if we anticipate the best that can happen, and then make it happen?

Stay Well.