Disruptive Marketing in Disruptive Times

Shift your thinking and your approach to avoid fatigue fallout for your brand.

Diana Lillicrap 10.29.2020

If you’re like most consumers, you’re feeling extremely fatigued these days. By news. By politics. By the pandemic and the restrictions it’s putting on your daily life. We’re all craving less chaos and fewer interruptions.

The last thing any of us want are marketers disrupting us with more to think about, more to worry about, or more to do.

A real example

I was reminded about this when I got an email from one of my favorite beauty product companies this morning. I think the brand intended to share new products with me and gift ideas for the holidays. However, the messaging made me feel guilty for not taking better care of my skin, not helping the planet more, and not thinking of others enough. I doubt that’s what they intended, but that’s where my head was today.

I also realized that I’ve gotten a lot of emails from this company recently that I just keep deleting. I decided to count them. 26 emails this month alone. Whoa. Give me a break! I realized this amount of disruption wasn’t just annoying, it was downright disrespectful during a time when many women (their target audience) are overwhelmed with noise and stress. I unsubscribed immediately. I also doubt this is what they intended me to do, but that’s what happened.

A better approach

My experience got me thinking about what the brand could have done differently to change my actions. I came up with three ideas.

1. Communicate less frequently but make it more meaningful.

Consumers want less disruption when they are feeling overwhelmed. Pace your news, combine the info, and don’t overwhelm your customers with too much noise or say it too often. If it’s important or can really help them, great. But make sure you answer that question from the perspective of a real customer, not your internal sales motives. And when you do communicate with them, make it meaningful and easy. Think brief, to the point, and with positive (not guilt-inspiring) language.

2. Meet customers where they are.

Unless you are living under a rock you should be fully aware that your customers are under a bit of stress and feeling overwhelmed (because they are human and it’s 2020!) Don’t pretend this isn’t the real world right now. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. Show a little empathy and then communicate how your brand is there to support them, not just sell to them. And then do it. This might be the hard part, but brands today have to offer more than just their products if they want to survive the fatigue fallout that many companies are going to experience in the coming months. Figure out what that means for your brand—what more can you do to actually help your customers—and then put it into action. 

3. Stay calm and be steady.

Urgency is often used in sales and marketing to get consumers to act. But urgency right now just equals more stress and will leave your customers with bad feelings about your brand. Disruptive marketing in 2020 means being the calm in the storm that your customers crave. Maybe your holiday sale lasts all season—be sure to key this up as a point of difference and a reflection of your understanding that everyone is overwhelmed with more important things right now (aka show you have empathy). Calm and steady can come across in other ways too. Peaceful images, soothing sounds, extra white space, a calm tone, etc. Being a brand that feels calm and sounds inviting will definitely be attractive to consumers who are tired of the disorder in the rest of their lives.  

Did this spark an idea? Let's talk!

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