Tips for maintaining communication with clients in a time of crisis – and why it is important to keep communicating and marketing your brand for success in the longer term.
In these uncertain times, it is easy to put the brakes on spending to support your business. But, whatever else you cut, it is important to look to the future and keep engaging with your customers in the present. Marketing is as important as ever to share how you are adapting and supporting people in unprecedented circumstances.
While many businesses are being forced to close their physical shops and offices because of COVID-19, they can still maintain and enhance their digital offerings. People need to know what changes they are making and how to access products and services. If they hear nothing, they may assume the company has gone out of business, or simply forget it exists.
Businesses like restaurants and cafes that are adapting to provide takeaway services need to go online and get that message out to customers. Some gyms, coaches and personal trainers are offering classes or courses online. They also need to let clients know. People are confused and they need information from businesses about revisions in opening times or what is available online instead.
Exploit social media channels
With many more people working from home now, there has been a spike in the use of all social media channels. Local businesses should be seeking out and following local news providers, magazines and influencers online so that they can share their new offerings to local people. There is a lot of goodwill among the population, who want to do their bit to support local businesses. So tell them how you are adapting and what you are doing to help them with your products and services.
Adversity is the mother of invention and companies must find new and different ways to support their customers and retain brand loyalty. These innovative ideas need to be shared with clients. Media outlets and consumers want good news stories to counteract all the negative views.
Altruistic actions will pay dividends
Altruistic actions to help people through the crisis will be remembered later. For example, LVMH, the owners of luxury perfume and cosmetics brands Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain, announced that it would switch its factories to making and supplying hand sanitiser free to the French authorities. This activity, and the resulting positive media coverage, will bring enduring benefits to their reputation and brands.
Likewise, Scottish brewer BrewDog has been vocal about its use of its facilities to create hand sanitiser. It has backed up this positive action by boosting its online offering and sense of community too: it is launching virtual bars where people can socialise, plus quizzes, beer masterclasses and chances to win merchandise. According to YouGov BrandIndex, these activities have already started reaping rewards; consumer perceptions of the brand are up by a statistically significant 4.6 points over the past two weeks and it tops the rankings for buzz around beer and cider brands. Brands need to stay authentic but think outside the box to make gains in a tough marketplace.
Businesses that cannot adapt their services, and have been forced to close temporarily, still need to keep their customers and prospective customers advised of their circumstances and plans for the future. Even bad news needs to be communicated. Having no contact means customer loyalty will wane and, when these businesses reopen, there will be a mountain to climb to reconnect and regain clients.
Keep in regular contact with customers
Alongside social media posting, maintain a regular e-newsletter for customers with the latest updates. Providing offers and discount vouchers can cheer up self-isolating clients and boost both online and physical businesses. The promise of a gift or deal for use when a physical venue reopens can keep people engaged and maintain loyalty.
If you are going the extra mile to support your workforce during the COVID-19 challenges, this will enhance your brand’s reputation with customers. For example, supermarket Aldi is recognising the efforts of its staff with a backdated 10% bonus in pay. Such good deeds now will boost reputation and future revenue.
Businesses also need to be agile in updating their marketing messaging to fit the new, swiftly-changing situation. Publicity for now-cancelled events should be removed and replaced with the latest information on those events, such as whether they will be postponed or moved online.
Adverts for activities that cannot take place for the time being, such as experiences, holidays and travel, should also be culled. These brands should not cease efforts to engage with customers, but should ensure that their messaging remains relevant, not out of date. Travel companies could offer free cancellation on future bookings or other incentives to get new business lined up.
Brands need to plan for the longer term and find ways to take clients with them, emotionally.
While a crisis can bring out the worst traits of humanity, it also brings out the best. Think of novel ways to help customers and the community, communicate those initiatives, and people will remember and support you too.