For many of us in outdoor marketing, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a challenging decision around what messaging to put into the market right now.
This round-up of a few marketing initiatives from brands in the outdoor industry shows some key messaging themes are emerging, which could provide some inspiration or guidance for your own brand's messaging approach during this time. While not all are flawlessly executed, and many lack the polish that the gift of time and budget provide, perfect should not be the enemy of good when it comes to maintaining engagement with consumers. Despite the challenges we all face, maintaining share-of-voice and engagement with current followers during this time continues to be an important marketing strategy, particularly in social channels that are currently seeing even heavier use than normal.
How can you apply the following themes and examples to your brand’s messaging platform in the upcoming weeks to provide consumers with something of true value, that connects with them based on the shared human experience we are all having right now?
1. Share how your brand is helping others during the crisis
Many brands took early steps to support health care workers, charities and those in need during the crisis, while others have pivoted production to produce highly-needed products and supplies. Has your brand taken supportive action during the crisis? How are you communicating your actions?
Fishing equipment producer Simms pivoted their wader production facility to produce medical gowns for the local hospital in Bozeman, MT.
Outdoor Research adapted their Seattle facilities to produce much needed PPE for healthcare workers, and re-tools their Instagram account to communicate how they’re helping and answer customer's questions about the move.
Burton’s R&D team utilized their rapid prototyping facility in Burlington, VT to 3D print face masks for healthcare professionals, while the marketing team put together an Instagram story to communicate their efforts.
The North Face have donated equipment to healthcare workers in Colorado, and $1m globally through their Explore fund, announcing their efforts with a quote from athlete and ambassador Jimmy Chin.
2. Encouraging people to follow public health guidelines
Social distancing, staying in our home communities and avoiding unnecessary risks that may put an unneeded burden on the healthcare system are all ways the public is being asked to be a part of the solution during COVID-19. Some brands are temporarily adapting their message to encourage behaviour that complies with these public health guidelines.
Nike launched a similar effort on a larger scale, with their “Play Inside, Play for the World” campaign. Through this effort, Nike is encouraging people to stay inside, while “giving all athletes the digital resources they need to stay active indoors and tools that span a range of digital content and platforms.”
Popular activity tracking app Strava has created a #SOLOdarity challenge encouraging people to work out for 20 minutes each day, but do so alone while sharing in the challenge with other participants.
3. Provide helpful or useful content to your customers
Utility marketing isn’t unique to this current crisis, but marketers can use the principles of the concept to find a way their brand clan play a positive and constructive role in their customers' lives during these difficult times.
Dakine’s Mind Surfing series pairs brand ambassadors and Instagram live to events to offer up ways to “make the most of your time at home and talk story with the team”.
Lululemon’s Community Carries On initiative is similar effort to bring useful content to their followers, describing it as a way for people to “find some of our best content from some of our favourite people to help you stay connected, harness collective energy, and maybe even make new friends along the way.”
4. Remind people of better times, and that good times lie ahead
For many outdoor lovers, particularly those in cities or regions with more restrictive lockdowns, getting outside to do the things we love isn’t a possibility for the time being. Some brands are creating or curating content to help these people stay digitally connected to the things they love, when they can’t get outside to do them.
“When you can’t get outside, we’ll bring the outside to you, with feel-good stories that help you stay connected to the beauty that lives just beyond your door” says a landing page on the L.L.Bean website (link only works on the US site).
Destination BC, the tourism marketing organization for British Columbia, produced a video pairing beautiful and calming footage of BC’s natural environment with a script encouraging people to dream of the better times ahead Dream of Later.