In times of uncertainty, communicating a message in the most effective means possible, and delivering against expectations is critically important. Are your teams preparing for when today’s business unusual becomes the usual – even after the virus has been beaten back?
Striking a tone
Recalibrating the content and tone of the brand message is critically important now, particularly in reinforcing the reasons to trust and believe in a company’s brand. Consumers expect authenticity and transparency and will reward companies for those traits. In times of crisis, character is laid bare, and it’s no different for brands. Proactive marketers are retooling their messaging and campaigns to demonstrate how the brand solves the consumer’s problem in the new reality and makes their world better. Educational content, that is informative without being self-serving will be remembered. Consumers also want to know what brands are doing to help, so if you have something unique to share now is the time. At the happiest of times, consumers want to feel reassured that companies and brands have their best interests in mind – it’s even more critical in challenging times.
Whatever a company has to offer, marketers must figure out how to deliver it virtually. Whether it’s a message, a product, a service, or answer-providing content for information-hungry, constantly online, shelter-in-place customers. During social-distancing and beyond, digital channels will be the primary lines of communication between brands and their customers. This may mean canceling projects that were slated for the upcoming quarter or the coming year and replacing them with something innovative and relevant.
Remapping the customer journey
Whatever companies understood about how their customers research, shop, purchase, and use products and services has gone out the window. And will be forever changed. Marketers need to quickly analyze and plan for meeting customers where they are, at each new decision point.
Taking stock of the 4 Ps
The elements of the marketing mix are being upended – product, pricing, placement, promotion. How do products need to be tweaked or developed to meet the needs of isolated consumers better? What about pricing during these uncertain economic times? We’ve touched on some elements of communication. But what about promotion now that media and marketing channel consumption patterns have been disrupted? And placement – look at the product shortages impacted by supply chain breakdowns and skyrocketing consumer demand. Brands need to expand the digital brain bank working on these strategic challenges.
Stepping up customer service
Now is not the time to skimp on the talent companies employ to handle customer concerns, complaints, and questions. Everyone is on edge, and brands need diplomatic ambassadors who are uber-communicative Empaths. Who is reviewing policies through the filter of the pandemic and modifying accordingly? How are brands responding to fragile customers? The conversation brands have with consumers now will have a lasting impact. But there must be honesty about what can and cannot be delivered so that the relationship is rooted in trust.
While everyone is social distancing, brands need to increase social listening. And, in actuality, how they listen wherever they encounter the customer along the consumer journey. Customers will be more vigilant, watching, and commenting on what companies say versus what they do. Customers will vocalize their changing needs and how they think brands are performing. This is priceless intelligence that points to essential adjustments companies must make to deliver on the brand promise. And at the end of the day that should be the goal, delighting customers.
Do you have the right talent to make marketing plan adjustments while we all operate in the Upside Down? The pandemic is a threat to humans and brands alike. The companies that survive will emerge stronger because they were able to adapt with agility. That includes expanding and evolving marketing teams in strategic response to the outbreak, to the recovery, and beyond.