In the age of the coronavirus, we as marketers need to understand the unique role brands play in consumers’ lives and the high expectations consumers place on us. Identifying actionable and empathetic ways of sharing helpful content with our audiences during this potentially scary time can help to alleviate some of the anxiety caused by COVID-19. Following are steps you can take to ensure you continue to be a brand ally to your consumer.
Step 1: Assess your current situation.
- Halt all automated and scheduled social content. Be mindful of your content’s subtext and make sure it is not insensitive to the situation. For example, images with large crowds might be misinterpreted or mislabeled as insensitive.
- Create a new temporary plan. Agree on the top objectives and success measures. For example, be less sales driven and focus more on customer care.
- Adjust channel role, purpose and messaging. Seek media that aligns with new objectives and in-the-moment consumer behavior to deliver your message. For example:
- Social – Ramp up and promote your social customer care.
- PR – Don’t hijack news in order to increase brand mentions.
- TV/ Streaming – Consider more than social to get your message across. As with major events like bad weather, COVID-19 will keep people at home seeking updates from national and local news.
Step 2: Evoke empathy.
- Be mindful of your tone and voice. Confirm you are communicating comfort and stability, from visuals to messaging.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Assess the role of your brand within the crisis and redefine as needed. Sometimes it’s better to stay quiet than to contribute noise. The risk of negative association is higher than driving positive associations.
- Don’t be something you are not. Be mindful of opening yourself up to potential risks and criticisms. Overpromising or sharing insensitive messaging can do more harm than good.
- Create hyper-local strategies for messaging and its delivery. Understand the needs of your local audiences and identify opportunities to provide value to them.
- Be consistent and fact-based. Do not counter information shared by the government or other reputable sources.
Step 3: Build community.
- Identify where you as a brand can be useful. Identify tools, solutions and informational resources your brand can share to provide value to your audiences.
- Understand what your audiences need from you. Identify their pain points as it relates to the situation, and be prepared to activate against those needs.
- Define how your brand can help alleviate anxiety. Be authentic and think about the voice and tone of your brand and your target audience.
Ongoing: Assess and pivot as necessary.
- Anticipate changes in audience behavior. The current situation is continually evolving, making it critical for brands to understand the changing needs of the consumer and their emotional state of mind.
- Pay attention. Remain up to date by monitoring CDC reports and reputable news sources. Understand what your audiences are saying by leveraging tools like social listening so that you can identify needs as they evolve.
To provide relief during a time of crisis, intentionality truly is everything. For more information on how your brand can be an ally during crisis, feel free to contact us directly.