Issues-Based Marketing Is Here To Stay, And That’s Okay
Open your social media channel of choice or tune into the news and you may be thinking the world as we know it is coming to an end. What can you do, as a marketer or communicator, during these times? Plenty.
The grey area between marketing and public relations continues to grow. Every message that your company puts out into the world represents your brand identity. Your customers will take those messages to heart and use it to make judgements on your company, its people and its policies.
In the last few years, brands have increased the use of marketing tactics to take a stand on issues. From the Gillette commercial, “The Best a Man Can Be” to Nike’s contract with Colin Kaepernick for the “Just Do It” campaign, and more. Marketing and public relations professionals have the unique ability to speak for themselves and their organizations. Where does your company stand on the issues? Will they share them with customers?
There are pros and cons to sharing company policies publicly. You could alienate some of your current customer base, but you can also gain the loyalty of others – and even gain the attention of new customers. It is a way to connect, on a deeper level, to your target audience.
Be warned that there are other risks. People are taking a hard look at companies and their actions. People are scrutinizing companies to see if they are following through on the brand promises they make in public. Using social media, it’s easier than ever for people to share experiences. Your company has to “walk-the-walk” and live up to the expectations that are being introduced.
Other tips to watch out for when creating content:
- Timing: regardless if your brand is backing a cause or not, timing can make or break a message and a brand. Poorly timed releases can put a sour spin on a message – KFC wasn’t quite fast enough to pull its “Finger Licking Good” ad at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Content: is there diversity in your content? Is it being used well? Your content should be diverse and inclusive – it should not show “whitewashing” like one of Dove’s campaigns in 2017.
- Emotion: emotional marketing builds on four basic emotions – happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. When used correctly, emotion is a great way to connect with your audience and help them remember you, but it can come off insensitive if not thought out.
- Accessibility: make your content accessible. Use alt text on images and subtitles for videos. You’ll be able to reach a much wider audience.
Our suggestion: use your voice to support the issues that you care about and that match with your brand values (and your customers’ values) but make sure you start with research and test it before releasing. This doesn’t mean that the process has to be slow – quickly research by asking your target audience questions; test by having someone outside of your company’s bubble look at the material before sending it out. Also, keep in mind that other company policies may have to change to adhere to the issues-based policies put in place. Issues-based marketing has the ability to connect with your audience on an emotional and personal level, just make sure that the stakeholders are ready to back it up.