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Over the past seven months, you’ve likely received a plethora of emails that started with, “In these unprecedented times…” or “In these challenging times…” Better yet, have you or your company sent one of these emails? Indeed, we are in unprecedented times and, admittedly, it is very challenging. People are concerned about their health, their families and their livelihood. We’re in survival mode. What’s more, there is no real end in sight, and potential vaccines are just starting trials.
As a brand, what can you do? You can’t go about this with a business-as-usual mindset because there is nothing usual about this year. But striking a balance can be difficult. How do you attempt to comfort your customers and clients? A one-size-fits-all strategy isn’t the answer. From a communications and marketing standpoint, you have to develop separate strategies for each of your interests, starting with the anxious consumer.
How do you make your message stand out in a sea of coronavirus-themed emails and advertisements? How do you balance a sympathetic tone with a plan of action? And finally, how do you promote your company without seeming unaware and opportunistic? It’s simple: have compassion.
People are scared and that fear translates into anger. They want someone to blame. There have been numerous celebrity-studded videos created in 2020 telling people that we will be OK, and while this message is nice, it is also shallow. If you’re a family of four, have recently been let go and have rent due, you don’t care if your favorite celebrity says things will get better; you need something tangible.
If you are directly messaging your consumers, you should have good news for them, not just well wishes. Free food delivery, loan forgiveness — something to ease the pain. Whether it is Taco Bell offering free delivery and free tacos on Tuesdays or Ally Bank suspending overdraft fees, this is a message consumers can understand and feel comforted by. If your business doesn’t have the resources to do this, provide relevant content, tips or industry insights that can help your clients and consumers get through the next several months.
Empty words mean nothing, especially during a global pandemic. So, don’t put out content for content’s sake. Now is the time to be a leader within your field. This is an opportunity to stand out among the crowd. But if your company was not immediately impacted by this crisis, what message do you send?
It’s easier to communicate positivity and add something to the conversation when your industry is on the frontlines. So, perhaps you should focus on the soft sell. Now is not the time to be aggressive or pretend your industry is something that it’s not.
Instead, focus on what your company does well. Turn inward to evaluate your strengths. Promote your corporate ecosystem. Reassure your investors and key stakeholders that everything is still running well. Maybe you are hosting webinars, expanding your research opportunities or writing thought leadership pieces. Or maybe your company has seen an increase in productivity or growth despite working remotely. These are the things you want to promote.
Yes, we are living in unprecedented times. We are plagued by an existential threat that has seemingly paralyzed our world in a way many of us did not think possible. You are home with your family, video calling friends and relatives and trying to work and maintain a sense of normalcy. But there is nothing normal about this situation, and we can work with that.
We are being flooded with coronavirus messaging and, like the cliché goes, “If you’ve got nothing good to say then don’t say anything at all.” It’s okay that your company is not trying to find a cure for the virus, assuming it’s not a pharmaceutical company, so don’t message others as though you are. Promote your company and how, despite the massive disruption, you are still meeting targeted goals and seamlessly working from home. Give your company the credit it deserves. Provide value where value is needed. Sometimes the “soft sell” is the best tactic of all.