Seemingly no one is unaffected by the stay-at-home orders and quarantines. Brands, agencies, technology companies—organizations in every industry are settling into the new normal and many are re-thinking their approach to marketing and their messaging. (See Infutor’s tips on how brands and marketers can prepare for an influx of traffic and how empathy can position them for success)
Recently, we spoke with a group of leaders across different industries to share their recommendations on some of the best practices for communicating with clients and prospects now and in the near future.
Each executive emphasized taking care of their employees and communities as their first priority, while offering insights on how other organizations can adapt their messaging by leveraging content, technology, and lesser-used channels during an unprecedented modern crisis.
Turn Off Automation, Pick Up the Phone
Digital marketing and data management technology company SRAX specializes in helping brands unlock data to find their core consumers and characteristics across all marketing channels. SRAX’s Chief Operating Officer Kristoffer Nelson emphasized that brands should keep messaging simple and direct during difficult times, and that they might make the biggest impact through an often overlooked channel.
“The first steps might be to turn off automation and pick up the phone. In fact, focusing on relationships and phone calls right now might actually be outside-of-the-box thinking for a lot of people—especially those that are so digitally-focused. Channels are incredibly overwhelmed right now, and more historical and underutilized ways of communicating could be more effective. There also needs to be a focus on the things people actually need right now. Because that’s the only message that’s going to break through the noise. People might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the information they’re dealing with, so now is the time to be simple and direct without marketing fluff.”
Plan for the Grand Reopening
For location intelligence data specialist Loqate, a GBG solution, the first point of business was to clearly communicate its response plan to internal team members across the world. The health and safety of employees and their families was the main concern, so quickly adapting business and work guidelines to enable remote and flexible working was paramount.
Loqate’s Senior VP and Commercial Director Justin Duling also shared how the company is staying prepared for the return to “normal” and recommended other brands take a similar approach.
“[After internal communications], the second step was to reach out to our partners and their teams from a human level and make sure they knew they could count on us should we be able to help them and their families. In the early days, being mindful to put people before business was important. As the scope of the crisis and its impact on the global economy and business came into focus, we enacted a business risk analysis and management approach to reframe priorities and plans. We spoke with our partners to align messaging and strategies in a way that will enable us to get a head start when business reopens. Not allowing our business to be frozen and utilizing this time to prepare ourselves and our partners to come out strong is our focus.”
Stay Engaged Through Valuable Content
Marketing agency Asymmetric has been actively providing guidance on its blog during these uncertain times. Asymmetric’s founder and CEO Mark Hope recommends that other agencies and brands should take a similar approach by creating helpful and relevant content to remain engaged with clients and consumers through trying times. By creating value now, Hope says, organizations will be in a better position to convert when the client is ready.
“The trick in a time like this is to be helpful with valuable pointers and ideas. Stop direct sales-related marketing, and create more blog content like tips, ideas, techniques, and strategies. The hope is that anybody who finds that content useful or interesting is going to remember you, and they will come back around when they’re ready to focus more on the business side again. Calls to action should be reassuring, for example, ‘We have experience with crisis management’ or ‘We have the experience with marketing operations during difficult times’ so they know that you’re in a position to help.”
Leverage Investments in Technology
The mission for real estate company Homie is to streamline transactions to make home buying faster and easier. The company does that by uniquely combining technology and expertise. Homie CEO Johnny Hanna has continued to lean on technology and recommends brands find innovative ways of their own to leverage tech to stay engaged with consumers.
“We’re leveraging investments in technology, and we really hope others follow suit. [Brands] need to make sure they’re understanding the current dynamic, the current situation. We’ve moved to things like virtual tours and doing FaceTime showings or FaceTime walkthroughs of the home, so the buyer doesn’t have to be there. I think it really comes down to utilizing the technology that’s available and not being shy about it. But there’s really not a silver bullet. It’s just a matter of trying to use technology to get in front of people wherever they happen to be. There’s more TV streaming, and that’s an area where there’s more opportunity to get in front of people than ever before.”
In unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever that brands recognize what their consumers need and be ready with the right content or offer. Infutor CMO Dave Dague urges brands to stay cognizant of the situation but approach messaging with an added emphasis on sensitivity. Brand trust and loyalty are bolstered by proving they have a deep understanding of consumers and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
“We’re all navigating the changing dynamics together. Brands should acknowledge that fact and share the different ways that they can help with timely content — and do so with empathy. But they also have to be sure they can reach consumers with personalized messaging in their preferred channels to show that they will still be able to provide whatever it is clients need, whenever they need it.”
No one knows when the crisis will end, but one thing is certain: business as usual has rapidly changed in a big way. In addition to taking care of their employees’ health, brands and marketers must adapt as the situation evolves and stay engaged with clients and prospects while continuing to provide value in order to remain healthy themselves.