The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting lives and businesses throughout the country and the world. People’s health and livelihoods are at risk and countless businesses are trying to balance safety for their employees with ways to continue operating and making payroll. Sooner or later, though, your company or organization will emerge from the ravages of this event. What you do to protect and sustain your brand now will likely matter. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind, if at all possible.
Continue to communicate with your customer base and other friends of your brand. Keep them updated on what services or products you have available and changes to delivery or service policies. Let them know if you have special offers. Just be careful not to inundate your most important audience segment with excessive communication. The temptation to “send another email” may be greater than ever, but keep an eye on your open rate and dial back your frequency if it is falling.
Appreciate customer support, but don’t beg for it. Everyone is facing some kind of hardship in this environment. Appreciating your customers is always a good idea, but asking them to patronize your business in ways that may make them feel uncomfortable should never happen. Some companies have downplayed the risk of transmission that exists with doing business with them. Even if they are right, they could be alienating otherwise loyal customers for the future who don’t feel the same way.
How you treat your employees will be key. Salary cuts and layoffs are never happy moments but finding ways to show compassion for your employees can have a positive effect when we enter a recovery. Demonstrating shared sacrifice and recognizing the hardship that staff and employees are experiencing could go a long way.
Check your communications for insensitivity. You may want to run existing advertising and communication to promote your products and services. But give all your marketing outreach a thorough review to make sure your messages don’t appear to disregard the seriousness of the situation. Flippant or humorous ads may seem tone deaf. Plays on words involving the name of the virus or associated terms such as “lockdown” should be avoided.
Talk about the future. Some brands are using a hopeful look to the future as part of their messaging. American Airlines recently sent an email to its frequent flyers using the phrase “when you’re ready to fly again…” This simple line of text both recognized that its members are afraid or unable to fly right now, and that there was a future out there where air travel will be safe again. As far off as that may feel now, it is also a glimmer of better times ahead, which may be just what some of their audience needs.
David Taylor is president of Lancaster-based Taylor Brand Group, which specializes in brand development and marketing technology. Contact him via www.taylorbrandgroup.com.