We all know that one of the first things to happen before and during marketing in a natural disaster is that news cycle that pours into the media with beautiful narratives of total misery and chaos, destruction and fear. It’s usually accompanied with 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 yada yada yada. This perfectly calculated formula leads to a 72 hour period of time where stories of human perseverance, hope and grit frame the situation as life being good and all better. Some call it a “tragedy formula”, others say it’s just the way of life. Disaster happens and it feels hopeless, people muster hope and the world becomes hopeful again. In essence, it would be wrong of the news and marketing to not capture these moments as an opportunity.
In these situations, marketers sniff the air knowing there is work to be done, thinking “How can I capitalize on this situation?” “How can I sell more stuff as it relates to this situation?” Although it makes sense, to try to make money and capitalize at every opportunity that comes your way, it is not okay to go about it apathetically. Targeting changes during disasters, like a hurricane or tornado, and empathy and sensitivity is needed in these situations. Use these ground rules during marketing in a natural disaster to market so that you maintain your business gracefully and tactfully!
1. Maintain Empathy
Put yourself in the shoes of the people going through the natural 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, then watch a Youtube video, or talk to someone who has been through it or going through it personally. Nobody knows everything and you’ll learn something from someone going through it. There is no telling or describing the very real feeling of losing your home or community to a natural disaster and it will help to get an experience testimony.
2. Maintain Sensitivity
During a natural disaster, all of those feelings, thoughts and emotions are heightened. Sometimes it provokes people to feel anxious, hypersensitive, overwhelmed and this could cause reactions that they would not normally have. Having a better understanding, after speaking to someone who’s gone though it or going through it, will change 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 tread lightly with your messages.
3. Expect different needs and wants
Your customers and followers are thinking about possessions that could be possibly left behind, family members at risk, animals possibly left behind and aren’t as worried about that favorite pot they bake with. They are worried about what might happen in the future and should they have to spend money, it’s probably going to be on things they need and not want. Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and focus on the bottom of the pyramid. If you’re selling to people who may be affected by a natural disaster, and do not have a product that suits the needs of them, then it might be a good idea to sit this one out. That is to say that you couldn’t take the opportunity to become a part of the positive messages, but they’re probably going to be looking more for products that fit into the category of both Psychological and Safety needs.
4. Evaluate your resources and customer reachability
The people affected by a natural disaster have access to electronic devices and their homes before the disaster hits, but it might be a different story when they come back. Upon arrival to their homes, they may be out of electricity, running water, access to fuel, and internet. It’s possible they wont even have access to their phones, because a lot of elderly folk only have landlines. If they have access to a mobile phone, its possible it won’t have date or voice services.
These people may not even 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 sit this one out. 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 the 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 leaves 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!
Your Online Capital Group 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!