Times like these are tricky enough to navigate from a personal standpoint - take that a step further if you are a marketer for a fresh food brand! With events getting cancelled and people being quarantined to their homes, you might feel uneasy and wonder how you should approach social media or pre-planned promotions for your brand. Is now the appropriate time to be marketing? Should you slow down? Share MORE?
Well, stats are showing that social media activity is only increasing during this unprecedented time. Studies have shown a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on ad posts over two weeks. Consumers are hungry for information and guidance and now, more than ever, they are turning to their favorite brands to get it.
Below are the answers to some of the most common questions we’ve been answering for our own fresh food clients over the past month. We hope this answers some of your own questions and helps you navigate uncharted waters right along with us!
Should I stop or slow down content on social media?
As a fresh food marketer, right now the trick is to focus on sharing helpful, relevant content without appearing self-serving. Over the weekend of March 21 and 22, we ran a social media advertising experiment on Facebook with one of the brands we support using content focused around helpfulness during this “new normal.” We saw a significant increase in likes and comments, which is why we feel confident to encourage other marketers to continue forward during this time. If anything, now is the time to increase the frequency of your content - as long as the content is relevant to shoppers’ current situation. Take a look at the ideas we shared here.
How should I appropriately engage with shoppers through email or on my website?
Just like your content for social media might need to shift, so should your content for any email marketing you have planned or for your blog. Now, keep in mind that we all know what’s going on. Shoppers are looking for uplifting inspiration, not more reminders of the word “quarantine.” Our best advice is to take on the role of researcher and provide your audiences with content that will help them work better remotely, teach at home, stay active, cook efficiently for their families, shop for quality ingredients, and extend the shelf life of fresh food. Check out these ideas! And beyond that? Just entertain them! Many folks just want to connect and have fun, so why not lighten it up and share content meant to be nothing more but fun and engaging?
How can I share content without it looking like my brand is trying to profit from the pandemic?
This is a great question, and our advice is to remember that now is not the time to focus on your branding or a direct sales pitch - now is the time to focus on the practical and entertaining. If your content is heavily focus on YOU (or your brand) right now, you may want to consider altering your approach.
Should my content reference COVID-19 directly?
In general, we recommend avoiding tying your content directly to COVID-19. Instead of painting a picture of bleakness, your content should remain positive and helpful during this time. For example, instead of saying “stuck at home” or “quarantined,” we recommend using language like “spending more time at home” or “enjoying time with your family.”
The exception to this is if you have a shopper asking you a direct question about COVID-19, which brings us to our next question:
How should I respond to a comment asking about the safety of fresh produce during this time?
Shoppers are seeking information right now and we have seen questions come up for our clients related to the safety of fresh produce and whether the virus can transfer via touching food or packaging. If you attended PMA’s Virtual Town Hall last week, you heard this topic discussed and the mention that shoppers have been asking about washing produce using things other than water. If you receive a question like this, our recommendation is to approach your response for empathy and understanding for wanting to stay safe and healthy. You can reference the CDC official guidelines found here and note that “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”
We strongly believe that now is a good time to share best practices for washing and storing your fresh products!
Should I say anything to my trade customers?
Yes! If your company has put new best practices into place around the sanitization of your workplace or facilities, or if you are taking extra precautions with your workers to ensure food safety, now is a great time to put together a message for your customers. Ideally this message could come from your CEO via email, and your goal will be to inform your customers, generate trust, and advise them on how your supply has been affected, if at all.
What can I do to promote my products to my customers now that upcoming tradeshows are canceled?
Look at this as a time of opportunity! Marketing is more important than ever to effectively reach your trade audiences. If you have a story to tell or something exciting to announce, press releases and trade advertising is a great way to get the word out. Think about getting creative by bringing back the direct mailer or hosting a virtual summit with your customers to keep them connected to your operations. Now is the time to get comfortable with video and email marketing. These are key tactics that will allow you to experience needed “facetime” with your customers without in-person meetings on the horizon.
How should I adjust my marketing budget right now due to uncertain times ahead. What should I do?
This is the million dollar question (literally). We can’t speak for every fresh food company’s individual situation and we understand that if you work primarily in foodservice, this could be a challenging time for your business. Here’s the advice we will offer to marketers: if your retail business is increasing and you won’t be attending several events you budgeted for previously, why not consider reallocating some of your planned tradeshow and event spend to sharpening your digital assets and upping your trade marketing game during this time? For the foreseeable future - your website is now your new tradeshow booth. How does it look? Do you have a foundation in place so that you can easily reach your customers through email marketing or LinkedIn? If the lack of tradeshows leaves you feeling vulnerable with your customer communications, it might be wise to consider finding ways to better reach them digitally - not just now but in the future!
If you still have questions about how to navigate your marketing strategy during COVID-19, we can help. Fill out this form and one of our marketing experts will contact you within 24 hours to schedule time for us to help you - for free.