Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Hurricane Marketing

One way to approach marketing in the midst or wake of a disaster is to make relief the center of your marketing approach.

As the ground begins to dry from the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, people’s power is restored, prospective marathoners help clean up and commuters are beginning to be able to get back to work. While the relief effort continues, some businesses are being criticized for their marketing efforts during the storm. These stores offered discounts or free shipping, causing many affected by the storm to cry out in anger, accusing the stores of trying to turn a disaster into a business opportunity. I would agree that the tone of many of the ads is both inappropriate and insensitive, however, there are ways to use natural disasters as part of marketing approach to both help the relief and get the local economy going again. Because a storm can stop people in their tracks, local businesses and customers alike risk losing their livelihoods.

One way to approach marketing in the midst or wake of a disaster is to make relief the center of your marketing approach. If you offer a discount or online promo-code, couple your offer with a portal for donations or a list of places where people in your community can donate food or other supplies.

What you’ll really want to avoid when putting together marketing strategies that reference a natural disaster is the disaster in name-only. If you appear to be taking advantage of the situation or making light of the destruction, you risk losing customers or showing up on some Internet board tearing you and your customers apart. Make sure, instead to indicate how using the disaster in your marketing is actually beneficial to your local community.

Handfuls for newspapers lifted their pay-walls for Hurricane Sandy. Although they were, of course, doing a service to the community and the nation by making their product available and free, you can also be assured that they gained some customers and advertisers from their act of altruism.

Natural disasters are devastating, but they can bring out the best in people. People come together to help each other out when they normally wouldn’t give each other the time of day. While it’s not a good idea to take advantage of people’s sympathies during a natural disaster, you can help your local community by uniting people who need help with those who can help, even if it’s just with a donation or information about where to donate. Keep in mind that the lives and livelihoods of people in your community should come first, so keep promotions pertinent and valuable to both the shopper and possible victims of disasters.