13 January 2021|Crisis Management, Latest Posts, Psychology
By Petra Smith. Relying on hope as a marketing strategy is never a good idea, but particularly in a business environment where the successful restart will require more than just re-opening the doors, it is essential to have a strategy in place. The already highly competitive environment will be even busier and brands will have to really stand out to reach and attract their returning and new customers’ attention. Uncertainty is high and cash is low but keeping existing clients and fighting for the share of a smaller consumer base is more important than ever.
The last few months have been “business as unusual” for the majority of businesses, forcing them to rethink their communications and operations as they adapt to the pandemic and plan for the new post-crisis “normal”.
But even during challenging times, it is worth asking what this time is best for and as we all stand still, there lies an opportunity to reflect on and rethink current marketing strategies. This is the time to consider key marketing objectives and plans, so that when the crisis is over, the business is in a better position to bounce back and grow.
1. Reflect and evolve
Steering from panic and looking at this time as an opportunity for innovation and reactivation of brand purpose might be challenging, but it will benefit the business in the long term. Your business is not static, and your marketing strategy should not be either. Reflect on your previous strategy and plan and evaluate what worked and what needs to change; and most importantly, do not assume that things will be the same as they were pre-Covid.
Your ability to adapt rapidly is invaluable as your initial approach may not be the final one and your marketing strategy will need to be adjusted based on how the situation develops. In such difficult times, people will remember brands for their genuine acts of kindness and feel-good content that promotes positive thinking will go a long way. So, stay true to your brand values, but adapt to the changing circumstances and spread some positivity.
2. Show empathy
Moments of uncertainty require empathy. No one really has any specific answers, but that shouldn’t stop brands from communicating regularly and honestly. Businesses who care and show empathy, even during their struggle for survival, can form new ways of connecting with their customers and build long term relationships.
During a crisis that is ruled by uncertainty, communication is largely improvised and whilst being guided by your marketing strategy, you need to be able to think on your feet and respond to unplanned events as they unfold. With the right approach, the current crisis can turn into an opportunity to move forward, build resilience and positive social impact.
3. Do your best
Communicating with your customers and providing the best possible service, even during challenging circumstances will impact how they see your business now and in the future. In crisis, it is the ability to work with and for your clients to help them through their individual challenges that builds trust and loyalty.
Difficult times call for bold decisions and actions. They are also the time when character shows. Taking care of business by taking care of people, including customers, employees or suppliers, will go a long way. They are all vital to your business and they are also strong brand advocates, essential for your future survival and growth.
4. Communicate your brand’s purpose
Now, more than ever businesses need to define and communicate their brand’s purpose. Ask yourself how do you make their life better or easier and why does it matter to your customers. There is great value in questioning your brand’s purpose as it will allow you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand their motivators.
NASA used a similar tactic in the 60s, when connecting their engineers to higher goals, by asking “Why does it matter” four times in a row following an answer. This approach has been proven to create a strong connection between the individual and NASA’s high aspirations – going from ‘I’m building electrical circuits’ to ‘I’m putting a man on the moon’. Questioning your brand’s purpose can similarly lead to linking your customers’ needs and wants with the aspirations of your brand and the impact it has on your customers.
5. Manage your response
Whilst businesses cannot manage the crisis, they can manage their response. For many, the pandemic had a significant impact on their business, from temporary moves such as working from home to ongoing business practices, which will be maintained even after the crisis is over. What businesses need during a crisis is not necessarily a pre-defined response plan, but mindsets that will prevent them from overacting to yesterday’s developments and help them look ahead.
Even during these uncertain times, it is important to focus on the bigger picture – the innovation and new business models that are likely to emerge as people and businesses adapt. Your business will most likely not be the same when we come out on the other side, but it will certainly be more resilient.