Managing Your Brand Through A Crisis
It's time to batten down the hatches and call in the dogs. Prepare to manage cash flow and make sure we come out of this still operating.
This is a sentiment resonating around boardroom tables across the globe right now, as companies come to terms with COVID-19 and society in lockdown.
While this is the only way to manage this situation as people's livelihoods are on the line, it is time for the marketing community to step up and do their bit.
There is no getting away from the fact that marketing generally cost money, something that is in very short supply at the moment. However, the very best marketing also relies heavily on creativity to cut through the noise.
So, while many businesses are in lockdown, it's time for you and your company to live your brand values and the marketing team to amplify them across your various channels. Because, when we emerge from lockdown, and business resembles some form of normality, it is the brands that have maintained a presence that people will remember and align with for their business.
Setting our clear goals is not new, but, as with all good strategy, they should flex to suit the needs of the business. Driving income is and will always be one of the core objectives of any business. However, just now, it is about what support you, and your business can offer society.
For some, it is very much business as usual. For food processors, supermarkets, delivery companies, post office, banks and many more, the messaging and promotion will be around helping staff to stay safe and secure. A positive employer brand message will have a far more substantial impact long term than any sales messaging right now.
For those that have furloughed many of their team and are operating a reduced squad, it's identifying what value your business can add, how you could adapt your offer to make a positive difference.
There are a lot of questions swirling around right now as people come to terms with a host of new scenarios. Working from home; managing remote teams; social distancing at work; finding enough PPE for your organisation; maintaining cybersecurity or even managing a homebound exercise routine.
How can your business offer advice and support on these things? You can't and shouldn't attempt to answer every question, but find some way of creating some insight that your audience will find useful.
Could you enlist the support of another influencer in your network that could offer a better or more informed perspective on this? Perhaps you can engage them in an online interview.
Adapt your products
There have been several fantastic examples of businesses adapting their current offering to support the greater good. Many of the distillers have changed their output to help the nation get the hand sanitisers we all crave (although in typical fashion, there has been a bit of an outcry as many of the businesses have over branded the products).
H&M has rejigged its supply chain to meet the demand for the personal protective equipment the staff in the NHS so desperately need.
James Dyson has partnered up with TTP to produce the new CoVent ventilator. The bed-mounted portable ventilator was created in response to the Government's call to meet the demand for these devices.
While this is product development, this is still part of the marketing mix. Although in some cases doesn't replace any lost income, if the company has the capacity, it will engender considerable goodwill amongst staff and the broader public.
Again, for many, this is not a time for a hard sales message through your marketing campaigns. There rarely is. However, if you have the capacity to do so, use the time to stay relevant to your audience. Some good examples include:
IKEA Singapore's short film about 'Making Home Count' received some great feedback. The focus about enjoying some of life's comforts that can often pass you by on a busy day; your pets; cooking and a spot of fun with the kids.
Meanwhile, Apple took the opportunity to celebrate how their products can bring a little joy to the lockdown with their campaign 'Creativity goes on'.
We might not all have the opportunity like two global brands to push out content like this but take some time to think about your campaign and what you could achieve that would resonate with your audience. Your customers presumably engage with you because they have bought into your vision and values, so find something that resonates with them and push them out. Emotion will be an incredibly powerful way to remind people of what your company stands for.
You don't need to go into overdrive at the moment, just as your brand doesn't need to disappear. Maintain a regular social presence promoting the useful and relevant content you think your audience will be seeking to answer the questions they will have.
Likewise, pushing out direct marketing, whether that is daily emails, SMS or print with nothing but sales messages to people who have no budget to spend is going to do your brand more harm than good.
Use your analytics to find the answers and understand the messages that are resonating with your customers.