This is a concerning time for all. From supply chains to tourism to retail, Covid-19 is affecting everything and everyone – in business, professionally and personally. Through the years, as an agency, we have faced several challenges of market disruption on the journey together with our clients, gaining valuable insights along the way.
Experience has shown us that in times of trouble, as brands we should listen deeply and be in tune with our customers’ sentiment. Stay close to them, hear what is troubling them and then pivot fast to support those needs, with empathy and connection, across all channels – be it in store or online.
For many businesses, the biggest impact comes from uncertainty. Our experience shows us that with careful thought, smart choices can be made which can help ride out the storm and come out even stronger after the crisis.
Start with your audience’s needs and work backwards to your business needs. What emotions are key – fear, uncertainty, concern for others? What external factors are key – regulations, quarantines, shortages? These can indicate what kind of offerings your customers will value. Then you can look at what value you can offer.
Here are some key factors to get you started…
- People will be increasingly homebound. They’ll spend more time online. They’ll need entertainment for themselves… and their children. They may face running out of essentials. They may be unable to visit loved ones.
- Some people will be working from home. They won’t have access to office facilities like printers, scanners, perhaps file servers. They’ll rely more on phone and video conferencing for meetings. Their data requirements will increase.
- People feel anxious and uncertain. They need help sorting the good advice from the bad. They need reassurance without false platitudes. They need useful effective advice. They need concrete actions they can take.
Whatever your business, whether you’re B2C or B2B, there are almost certainly things you can offer which will meet needs created by the current climate. Maybe that means giving freely to your customers and communities or maybe it means adjusting what you sell and how you sell it to meet changing needs and behaviours.
With the above examples of human needs in mind, here are 8 thought starters for brands to consider when marketing in a downturn and time of uncertainty:
- Connect with your top customers and ask them what matters to them most right now and what support they feel their communities need. Now is the time to evolve from just a brand they love, to a trusted partner, an extension of their inner circle. Lean into that and deliver purposeful, meaningful support.
- Make sure your frontline sales/service team are equipped for this shift in thinking. Remember to update any automated messaging too, to reflect the sentiment of the moment.
- Use social media to listen daily to the changing needs of your community and then respond when you have real value to offer in whatever form that may be – for example, a special promotion; a surprise and delight to bring lightness to the day.
- Offer value through content: be useful. Instructive and informative content will not only help your audiences, but if it’s useful enough, they’ll pass it on to their own audiences.
- Simple advice from a key opinion leader also helps to build connection, trust and help allay panic and fear and rather inform.
- Capture lead-generation opportunities – if you can’t sell today, let consumers register interest for tomorrow. The promise of looking forward to things post-pandemic may be therapeutic in itself.
- Emphasise your delivery options if you have them, and consider partnering with a delivery service if you don’t. Remember those who are more vulnerable in the community – our seniors, for example, and consider ways of partnering with other organisations who have regular contact to add value to their offering.
- Stick to your knitting. Find value to offer that makes sense for your business – your products, services and brand. A pet-food brand can give advice on pets getting sick, but banks probably shouldn’t.
Get inventive. Think about what people need.
And remember: don’t take advantage. We’re all in this together.