Changing Model Disaster To Model Alternative
Our current situation is one of disturbance, fear and uncertainty. But we know one thing for sure. This situation will end and the reconstruction will begin.
As a marketer, the question for us is simple: what should we do now to survive this crisis and at the same time position our brands for the other side? Most economists believe that pent-up demand will lead to a strong recovery. If that's true, is your brand ready?
I ask my co-marketers to see this time as an opportunity … as an opportunity to build your brand. When you think about it, the fear and insecurity we all face is fertile ground to build an emotional connection with our customers. This connection may already exist and needs to be serviced, or it is very little and needs improvement. Here at Branding Strategy Insider, we've looked at the huge role emotions play in brand preference and buying.
The emotional component is fundamental to what Patrick Hanlon calls Primal Branding in his book Primal Branding … one of several key features of successful brands. Brands thrive and thrive when there is a sense of community. Apple is often cited as a textbook case in which the "Gentiles" (or infidels, as Hanlon would say) are non-Apple PC users. They are not in awe of the "Creator" (Steve Jobs) or understand the "Holy Words" (iCloud, Safari, Keynote, etc.).
Brand communities are full of loyalists and outside lawyers (your outside audience) who buy more of your goods and services more often. Inside (your internal target group of employees, suppliers and sales staff), your brand community is filled with brand ambassadors who give your brand the right human face.
But how do we, as a marketer, build membership and maintain a sense of community when our customers and internal audiences are forced to seek protection and our businesses are closed during the COVID 19 crisis?
The following seven basics of building a brand community answer this question and help us work our way through the pandemic.
1. Be transparent. Most companies have done a good job setting their own COVID-19 guidelines in line with government mandates. Be aggressive when communicating these guidelines with clarity and care. Publish them prominently on your website. Use social media and your existing communication channels such as e-newsletters and e-blasts to increase the reach of your notifications. And use press releases to reach important trade and consumer media.
2. Cultivate rituals. Rituals are another important component of primal branding that has been identified by Hanlon. As humans, we're all wired to long for order in the midst of chaos. Brands can convey this sense of order by simply adhering to communication and service plans, be it in the form of meetings, emails, social media posts, updates, advertising, etc. The need can even involve new rituals in the form of online training Create webinars. virtual tours, healthy practices or non-profit activities.
3. Stay visible. The tendency is to withdraw, go dark and remain silent. Not. Granted, it's somewhat counterintuitive, especially with some in your accounting department. But as the Great Recession showed a decade ago, those who remained visible ended up at the top. As Winston Churchill noted, keep going as you go through hell.
4. Be sensitive. Brands that are deaf will actually lose customers in the course of the crisis. Empathy confirms the circumstances and communicates that the brand “gets it”. As marketers, depending on the needs of our market, we need to strike a balance between promoting our products and services and promoting the common good. Businesses should contribute to “the war effort” whenever and wherever possible. The halo effect of this, like the recognition that big brands receive in daily White House press conferences, is huge, both in terms of free media exposure and goodwill from companies. Social media is also an excellent sounding board for brands to attract their customers and their own employees to charity. Liked and shared articles about managing and maintaining a business is another way that a brand can show empathy, compassion, and support.
5. Reflect and re-evaluate. In a way, this crisis has given many marketers extra time: time not spent commuting, wasted at conference tables, or taken to trade shows and conferences. Don't waste it. Use it to do the things that you've always complained about and that you haven't had time for before. This is the time to sharpen the saw. Check these website analytics or media tracking reports. Read your magazines. Familiarize yourself with new business activities. Prepare for Q3 and Q4. Remember, this is your chance. If you don't use it, you can bet your competitor will.
6. Be positive. None of us have ever encountered a situation like this. The psychological toll can be daunting for many. Your brand reflects the marketer behind it. It is therefore important to maintain a positive outlook – because this will end. At the moment there are many comments about the actual stress and grief process that we are exposed to. In Inc.com there is a great article by Jessica Stillman entitled "3 questions to ask yourself every morning when you're locked down" with good, simple advice on how to deal with it.
7. Let's get to work!
* Based on my presentation to marketing directors at Meridian Adhesives Group.
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