We all know that one of the first things to happen with marketing surrounding a natural disaster are the narratives that pour into the media of total misery and chaos. It is usually accompanied by stories meant to induce anxiety and a total emotional breakdown of “What might happen!?” This causes Suzie to write to Annie to call Lorie to message Morgan who calls her Dad who calls his wife and on it goes.
These events are usually followed by a period of time where stories of human perseverance and hope frame the situation of life in recovery. When disaster happens and it feels hopeless, people naturally muster hope and the world becomes hopeful again. Some call it a “tragedy formula” and believe it would be wrong of them not to capture these moments as marketing opportunities.
In these situations, some marketers sniff the air thinking “How can I capitalize on this situation?” “How can I sell more stuff as it relates to this situation?” Although we can make sense of their logic, trying to make money during these situations should not be done apathetically.
During a disaster, targeting should change to include the empathy needed in these sensitive situations. Use these ground rules during marketing in a natural disaster so that you conduct your business gracefully and tactfully!
1. Maintain Empathy
Put yourself in the shoes of the people going through the disaster and think to yourself “do I have enough experience to affect my target customer?”. If you can’t understand how those who are being directly affected might feel, maybe talk to someone who has been through it or is personally going through it.
Describing the very real feeling of losing your home or community to a natural disaster is no doubt difficult. Telling their story can have a powerful impact because of this, and it can serve as an experience testimony.
2. Maintain Sensitivity
During a natural disaster, all feelings, thoughts, and emotions of those involved are heightened. Sometimes it provokes people to feel anxious, hypersensitive, and overwhelmed, causing reactions they might not otherwise have had.
Having a better understanding after speaking to someone who has gone through it may adapt the tone of your message. This will let your followers know you are empathetic to the situation and not just patronizing them to get something. Let down the hard sell for a little bit and be charitable with your messages.
3. Expect different needs and wants
Your customers and followers are thinking about family members at risk as well as invaluable possessions that could possibly be left behind. Chances are they aren’t as worried about that favorite pot they bake with. They are worried about what might happen in the future. Should they have to spend money, it is probably going to be on things they need over things they want. Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and focus on the bottom of the pyramid addressing the most basic needs.
What if you are selling to people who may have been affected by a natural disaster and do not have a product that suits their needs? It might be a good idea to sit this one out. That does not mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity to become a part of positive messages. Ideally, though, consumers are most likely going to be looking for products that speak to Psychological and Safety needs.
4. Evaluate your resources and customer reachability
People affected by a natural disaster have access to their homes before a disaster hits, but this might be a different story when they come back. They might find they are out of electricity, running water, access to fuel, and the internet. It’s possible they won’t even have access to their phones, with a majority of older generations utilize landlines. If they have access to a mobile phone, it is possible it won’t have several commonplace services.
These people may not be able to receive packages from notorious carriers due to geographical restrictions. If you are selling something that is needed, think about the availability of you being able to get it to those people.
Unless a way of delivering and performing in dangerous conditions can be found, then you might want to refrain. Loss of resources can last for weeks after marketing in a natural disaster, and it can take much longer to regain the funds that went into those resources.
If your business is feeling pressure due to a shortage of traffic, let OCGnow help craft your message for them. We will help you speak to your audience in a way that addresses their concerns, keep them informed, and leave them with a good impression of your brand alongside them in a time of need. If your product or service seems to come into the picture, then all the better!
OCGnow is here to help you market better during a complicated time. We can help you reach more customers and increase our online presence where you need it most. Give us a call at (904) 600-3600 today!