‘Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face’. Mike Tyson’s famous quote, applies well to the current predicament that brands and businesses find themselves in -especially in regards to sales and marketing…
This is because, to use Tyson’s quote, COVID-19 is the debilitating punch that has stunned everyday life and now more than ever brands need to think about how they maintain (or for some, regain) customer trust. In the past weeks, the pandemic has progressed with alarming speed with the UK now under lockdown. In uncertain moments like this, Marketers must re-evaluate how to build brand trust.
As companies across all sectors are faced with the challenges Coronavirus brings, protecting customer relationships is mission critical. But, how can marketing teams do this effectively when narratives are being forced to change?
A few months ago your customers will (ideally) have been happy to receive your marketing content and engage with your brand. Now, living in lockdown and potentially facing financial uncertainty, they unsurprisingly are distracted and in a very different emotional state…
Fortunately, in challenging times there is an opportunity to build trust like never before. Brands can show true empathy, connect closer to customers and reveal more human-centric values. If done correctly, this can be a fantastic opportunity to gain customer trust and confidence for the future.
We must tread carefully though, as insensitive marketing campaigns can be construed as profiteering attempts which will likely damage your brand and not forgotten in a hurry.
The smartest businesses are recognising that, for the immediate future, the disruption and anxiety created by COVID-19 means the content they serve customers should help them better manage the stress and challenges of the situation. To put things into perspective:
• Internet Traffic is up a massive 50% according to Akamai, and peak loads are twice as high as last year’s.
• Comscore says news sites are seeing 57% more visits and 46% more time spent reading these than last year.
To demonstrate how the narrative can be intuitively adapted, below is an example of a sales consultancy that recognised the immediate challenge and started offering free webinars to help businesses with their sales and marketing strategies.
It’s free, honest and engages people instantly (at a time when it's needed most). Not only is this consultancy showing it’s adapting, but it cuts through by recognising the need of customers at this specific point in time. Rand Fishkin proposes that Marketers need to 'read the room' and says it well here:
'People are paying attention online like never before. And if you're doing web marketing, they're paying attention to your work.'
We have to accept that everyones headspace is caught up in the current conditions, and then deliver content that helps our customers and prospects through this period.
Therefore, here are five tips to make sure your brand is doing the right things to build invaluable trust with customers.
Tip 1: Deliver resources that offer value now
Proactively showing you still hold value to customers is essential. We appreciate right now it might be tough to persevere with a ‘business as usual’ approach, but if your brand and supporting content can face this crisis head-on then you can cut straight through to the customer.
Consider a resources page or lead flow banner as seen above from Zoom, this is the first thing visiting customers will see and it's helping them to deliver context straight away. On your website you could open up gated areas with content that normally sits behind a pay wall or alternatively collate resources that matter into a single page that's useful.
Tip 2: Don’t fall into the trap of over-communicating
It’s okay to say you’re here for your customers, especially when what you’re telling them is useful and helpful. However, many customers have received emails which offer little value, coming from a brand they’ve not engaged with for years leading them to question just how timely and relevant this is to them.
If the horse has already bolted, that's okay, this is an unprecedented event. What's important now is that you recognise this and rethink your marketing. Thinking in this way will only improve who you communicate to and how you do it.
Remember, you won’t be the only brand reacting to COVID-19 so consider that your customers might be overwhelmed with information. The above example of a recruiter giving daily updates via a vlog could be welcome for some of his audience, but there is a danger of diluting his message and fading into the background like many others.
Simply put, you could be listened to more by saying less.
Tip 3: Don’t be too clever
Many will be aware that McDonald's recently (temporarily) changed their logo by separating the iconic golden arches to reflect the current social distancing measures.
While it portrays some of the creative flair their branding has become known for, it was widely slammed as insensitive and gimmicky. This kind of action can be interpreted as a way of a creating brand awareness purely for personal advertising as opposed to doing anything of meaningful value for customers.
It's a tricky line to navigate and brands are faced with a dilemma but our advice would be to err on the side of caution and not try too hard.
Tip 4: Strike the right tone
No matter what your business does, the tone before this crisis will not be the same as during it. While it could be a good idea to sound colloquial and let human emotions shine through, try and refrain from anything too light or flippant.
Take the above screenshot as an example. Although this LinkedIn marketing consultant is probably being sincere, his choice of language is overtly salesy and insensitive. For instance, the sad face after stating how COVID-19 is impacting a lot of people may come across as crass.
This is still an emergency and it’s important that your brand messaging acknowledges this before imparting the information that people need (not want).
Tip 5: Prepare and plan for the long-term
The coronavirus pandemic caught many of us off guard and what we now face is unprecedented. The lockdown is scheduled for an unknown period but this will obviously be dictated by the progress of the virus.
Even if the lockdown was to end on schedule, and the virus dissipated, in a best-case scenario it will take a long time to get back to normal. And, unfortunately some businesses may never recover. Therefore, as your brand reacts and starts to put out important information, make time to consider the medium to long-term outlook.
Take the above example, Clarion Wealth, a successful financial planning firm. This company has created some coronavirus-themed content as part of its client communications, but still is marketing to business owners about helping sell their business when in reality the appetite for selling a business could be muted for the rest of 2020.
Think about how your business strategy is impacted and what you still can and cannot do. Audit your approach and communications and then consider, how should your marketing change to reflect this? Essentially, ask how to build trust with customers online and – specific to your sector – what is the best way to earn trust from customers.
At MirrorWeb, we want to help as many people as possible during this challenging period. If you’d like to stay on top of compliant marketing you can subscribe to our blog here or take a look at one of our most heavily-read eGuides: The Compliant Marketer’s Ultimate Guide to Personalisation by clicking below.