During this time business owners like myself find ourselves caught between trying to keep the lights on and bills paid, while still respecting and caring about the health and safety of both our clients and our employees. It can be a tough balancing act, and a hard time to think about sales or marketing.
The attached article from the Harvard Business review provides a helpful outline of what they term the “HEART” framework of sustained crisis communication. It provides some good insights for appropriately communicating during these difficult times.
HEART stands for the following steps (each is explained more in depth in the article which I encourage you to read).
Humanize your company
Educate about change
Tackle the future
What we know is that delaying purchasing decisions across a variety of categories coming out of this time will be a normal behavior. Spending will be more frugal and cautious. This situation has created an unprecedented amount of uncertainty, which in turn fuels anxiety and fear. Reassurance and optimism is a vital ingredient of successful marketing during a recession. As uncertainty prompts us to stay at home but also stay connected with family and friends, it has become abundantly clear that we, as a society, crave connection. Weeks and months of isolation will lead to pent up demand. Messaging grounded in understanding, focused on connections and relationships and also addressing that demand will be successful if executed tastefully. How brands address communication during this crisis matters. Here is one example I found from Visit Idaho that I think is very well done. Sympathetic, simple and inspiring.
Now that we understand how to communicate during these difficult times, it’s important to understand why.
Consumers are increasingly becoming belief-driven consumers. It’s not what you think about a brand, it’s how much you believe in that brand. Brand trust drives more sales, creates recurring business and builds a relationship with your customer that becomes difficult to break.
According to Smart Insights, in 2019 65% of consumers are belief-driven buyers. 81% of all buyers say that the ability to trust a brand to do what is right is a deciding factor in their purchase decision. 51% of consumers will become brand advocates if they build trust and 43% will actually defend a brand they trust.
This challenge that we all face provides a perfect opportunity to show what we are made of. How much do we care about our customers? Are we going to stand by the values and promises we make as a company?
Be empathetic. Show strength. Discover new ways to help. Challenge yourself to find creative solutions to communication challenges.
With the right customer-centric attitude and an awareness of what people need right now, we WILL emerge from this crisis having strengthened relationships with our customers.