In a whirlwind 31 days since lockdown, we've seen the marketing teams of the world flogged pillar to post, from message to message as the Monopoly board that is all Global markets has been flipped over more times than during my childhood holidays (I'm looking at you, Grandma).

There has been a strange similarity to the messaging from big brands, professional services companies and just about any firm with a social media account. That messaging has shifted about once a week, but the way that so many firms have had the same message has been infuriating for audiences and damaging for brands.

Those shifts have looked like this.

Week one - we are still open

Week two - we're still open & we're digital

Week three - we're still open & we're digital & we're all in this together

Week four - we're tired of digital now, but our digital is better so keep listening to us

(My prediction for week five is widespread cynicism of marketing messaging and sarcastic, self-aware retrospectives on the marketing messaging of others.)

Email databases have been pounded into oblivion, social media ads have been created at a furious cadence, GDPR has been quietly put into a corner and told to be quiet for a bit.

There are so many firms shouting the same useless thing. 

The video below shows what I mean. It's the same hollow message. Imagine you're a business leader. You've spent the day fighting landlords, battling the tax office, making layoff decisions and you see these ads. Aside from being bad taste, they're not relevant or helpful.

As another knee jerk reaction, firms are pushing back by censoring their language to remove words like Covid, webinar, lockdown. 

I agree with removing the empty statements like "unprecedented times" or "economic uncertainty" but I think there is a point that's being missed here if you are removing any mention of the outbreak.

It feels like these firms are worrying about the wrong thing. Customers aren't ignoring your message because you mentioned what's happening. They're ignoring your message because it isn't helpful and they are being bombarded by hundreds of other unhelpful messages. 

People and businesses have genuine, pressing issues that firms are failing to address because their marketing teams don't have the capability or proclivity to deliver genuinely helpful, effective content.

Amongst all the noise there are firms that are winning. There are lots of examples here of firms that are genuinely trying to deliver the information their clients need.

Based on their example, here's how you can avoid being just another noisemaker.

  1. Rather than punishing the market with messaging - listen.
  2. Rather than be language police - be relevant to their exact problem now.
  3. Rather than push platitudes - be genuinely helpful.