Whatever your industry or sector, the coronavirus crisis affects us all. And, in a situation subject to rapid change, it’s important that your business remains agile and responsive with your messaging and marketing. This applies to the way you speak to your customers – and how you manage your brand image and digital social presence.
Of course, developing and maintaining a strong social media presence should be a priority for any business – as should looking after the needs of customers and clients. During this pandemic, however, brands have a new, genuine opportunity to reach out and help ease their customers’ fears. This is not to say that COVID-19 is a marketing opportunity to capitalise on. Instead, it’s a good time to reflect on the unique role a brand can play in the lives of its audience.
Offer empathy and add value for your audience
Before the pandemic, your marketing probably centred around getting attention and engaging your target audience. Now, as the very nature of engagement has shifted to accommodate social distancing and lockdowns, brands must use social media to offer genuine empathy – and add real value.
Although your brand should still work to engage your audience with helpful and relevant information, there now needs to be more emphasis on how your specific brand can also offer relief.
Finetuning your messaging and taking effective action can be difficult, particularly in these turbulent times. All businesses must ensure that they operate with integrity – even as they come under inevitable pressure from the ongoing crisis. What’s more, those with a service or product that is well suited for such times should be careful to avoid seeming like they’re exploiting the situation.
Essentially, it’s very important to carefully set the tone for how your customers perceive your brand during this time. Companies that are seen to put the needs of people first and their bottom line second may take a short-term financial hit but will likely come out stronger when normality returns.
Alleviate concern and pain points where possible
If your brand can alleviate the concerns of your audience, then be sure to do so – and keep communication open. Your brand should also use a reassuring tone, offer a positive perspective and clearly demonstrate your values. Empathy and understanding can go a long way in times like these. On the same note, brands that ignore the current situation risk being perceived as cold and out of touch.
In fact, a study by Kantar found that only 8% of 35,000 global consumers they surveyed thought that brands should stop advertising at present, while 78% of consumers believed brands should help with their daily lives. This demonstrates a clear expectation that businesses should play their part when possible and give assistance or guidance when relevant.
For example, with an increased shift towards eCommerce, brands that offer support to their customers’ changing needs and contact points will make a significant difference to their lives. Brands that ensure support is structured and readily available will make the crisis much easier for those struggling. These include the elderly, who may not be familiar with navigating online processes.
Similarly, Google made a positive and helpful gesture in light of the COVID-19 crisis by rolling out free access to their advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities. This shows an awareness of the impact that social distancing has on the wellbeing and productivity of its audience, and also provides an immediate solution for people who are working from home.
Anticipate operational impact and manage expectations
While reassuring your audience is important, it’s also crucial to predict the operational impact and manage expectations accordingly. Marketers must edit their messaging to illustrate their on-the-ground realities, while still reflecting the brand ethos. Be sure, for example, to set realistic expectations around product availability and service levels – and communicate this in your marketing.
Keep your messaging informative by focusing on customer services and spreading awareness about any changes in the business. Make it easy for your customers to get in touch and send regular updates about the level of services that can be expected.
With lockdown ensuring that many people stay home, now is a crucial time to deliver compelling content. Your brand will only benefit from providing uplifting and informative content to people in need of support and compassion. Creating content that your audience will genuinely enjoy or benefit from is both helpful for your customers and effective for building brand loyalty.
Champion compassion in the face of COVID-19
The current situation demands that brands in all industries make a commitment to supporting their customers.
Marketing efforts should be directed towards offering empathy and support where possible – alongside keeping communication channels open and clear. In this time of uncertainty, the consistency of a brand can bring a degree of much-needed comfort.