By John Kananghinis
In last week’s special edition of Words + Insights we wrote about the need for businesses to stay calm and to communicate.
This week we explore how to communicate to customers, during times of crisis, in a way that will build trust by reassuring, offering value and being measured.
By now, almost everyone will have been deluged by notifications from a range of businesses advising of the measures they are taking to address the pandemic.
Too late, then, to discuss the initial salvo of communication. What of the ongoing?
As with all marketing it must be driven by addressing a customer need. Right now the customer does not need to know that you are desperate to shift product. They know. Bombarding them with desperation ‘offers’ and ‘opportunities’ will not help them cope with the unique circumstances. More than likely it will annoy.
Frankly, there are more important things to worry about than missing out on a ‘great deal’. And such an approach may also strike a particularly discordant note, as if not really recognising the situation.
Delivering customer value must orbit around the needs of the current circumstance. If a business offers an essential service, communication must be around reassurance. If not essential, there are still many ways businesses can demonstrate that they are aware of the situation and doing their bit to help.
We have already seen many stories of the repurposing of capabilities to assist in providing vital aid to the fight against coronavirus. Breweries and distilleries producing branded hand sanitiser, luxury goods brands manufacturing personal protective equipment, auto manufacturers building respirators. All positive reactions and all legitimate and appropriate topics to communicate to their customer base.
There are even tangential ways businesses can help customers meet current needs. Using connections and partners to provide practical assistance. For example, reading lists, YouTube channels or viewing lists, home cooking recipes, fitness at home ideas from linked sportspeople. The ideas are limited only by imagination.
The reality is that most businesses will face a significant fall in sales. But with the extra time customers have in front of computer screens there need not be the same drop in engagement.
For those providing discretionary products and services keeping communication going, with value-adding content, can also be an opportunity to keep building desire. Just allowing customers to view/build/configure their dream product or service is a soft sell that can be both enjoyable and diverting. Again, not trying to shove distressed product down their throats, but a distraction that may help get them through a difficult time.
In short, keep communicating, reassure, be imaginative, offer value, be relevant and don’t be a pest.
Businesses that stick to those principles will build recognition and loyalty that is sure to give them a head start when the crisis abates.
RMK+A has developed and implemented integrated communication and marketing plans for clients in sectors as varied as automotive, heavy equipment, transport and logistics, energy, tourism, waste, insurance, finance and professional services.