The first instinct of many companies when faced with market disruption is to shrink marketing budgets and pull back on communication. Smart move?
Studies have shown that continuing marketing during down times fare better when times get better. And research, from companies like Ipsos and Resonate, shows that 70+% of consumers want to continue to hear from companies. But even if history had not shown that businesses who continue to communicate with their customers weather crises better, the current environment can actually be conducive to creating brand preference and loyalty, if done right. But there are some ground rules, especially today, to achieving that.
- Be genuine. What does your brand stand for? How does you company live your brand? Now is not the time for lip service. You can’t suddenly come out with messaging about how much you care, if your brand doesn’t live that caring – you’ll get called out. But, if you have in place programs that protect your employees and customers, if your brand can somehow ease a burden created by the crisis, people want to know.
- Be relevant. Even before COVID-19 happened, this happened: younger consumers demanded that the companies and brands they support be accountable and stand for something. This is a chance to show what you’re really made of. Come up with ideas that have value, both creatively and practically. Create products, plans that help, and let people know about them. Demonstrate caring. If you talk the talk…
- Be creative. Don’t fall into the “me, too” trap. Consumers are sick of seeing wealthy celebrities trying to empathize from the comforts of their huge estates. And of companies with vacuous “we’re here for you” messaging. Just what does your particular product or service have to offer that sets you apart? What have you changed? What has remained the same? How can your brand lighten the mood? Reassure? Can you create a distraction, if even for just a few moments? Now is the time to deploy those ideas that may have frightened you before. Read more on how using imagination over knowledge can drive creative ideas.
- Be committed. When the crisis eases, that doesn’t mean you should leave your efforts behind. You’ll lose a lot of the faith you’ve earned if you do. If you’ve found a way to be relevant, creative and genuine, and you get a positive response, stay the course. People love to love things, and one of those things could be your brand.
The good thing is, these guidelines aren’t just for a crisis. They should guide how you go to market when things are good as well as bad. Relevance, authenticity, creativity, commitment – these are principles that hold up. The challenge is having the agility, will, and the discipline to apply them now, and for the future.