Communicating with your customers during Covid-19

coronavirus

It is fair to say that the current pandemic, Covid-19, or Coronavirus as it is most commonly known, is something of a game changer when it comes to marketing. 

Modern day brands, businesses and consumers alike have never faced anything so disruptive to everyday life before (or at least not since World War Two).

But in order to stay afloat, brands still need to communicate with their customers; attract new business and generate some kind of revenue. 

We have recently talked about why social distancing shouldn’t mean losing touch with your customers.

And the good news is only 8% of consumers think brands should stop advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, what they do expect is that companies think carefully about their tone and messaging, and how they communicate their values.

The big question is therefore, how do we, as brands, change our tone of voice and marketing efforts to reflect these uncertain times?

With a little careful planning and a clear understanding of both the current climate and your customer, we plan to show you how you can make your marketing strategy reflect your business’ values while reaching out to customers to show that you care.

Set up a small business critical team

Before you start talking to your customers, setting up a ‘business critical’ team to make key decisions (often at short notice) is a great way of ensuring a robust plan is put in place.

This is where you can also communicate any updates and agree on the next steps you need to take as a brand.

Your business critical team only needs to be small, comprising key stakeholders.

Hold daily briefings first thing and then communicate this out to the wider business. This will mean that everyone is aligned and on board with your new strategy.

It also helps avoid any confusion amongst your team which could otherwise potentially damage your business proposition by making its way out to customers.

Understand your customers’ mindset

A key part of any marketing strategy is to understand what your customer wants right now.

Marketing Week has recently found that during the Coronavirus pandemic, more than 50% of consumers think brands should talk as they have always done, while 50% think companies should use a light, care-free tone.

Only 41% think brands should avoid humorous tones. If your company relies on this kind of voice, maybe think about softening it a little instead of stopping the humour altogether.

How do your customers feel?

If you are not 100% sure which direction your brand should take with your tone of voice, ask your consumer directly.

Are they feeling worried or anxious about what’s going on in the world? Or do they want a break from it all?

If it’s the latter, can your brand offer the respite they need?

Social media is the perfect place to start a conversation. Fashion and lifestyle retailer FatFace recently did this on Facebook with a simple post asking “How are you?”

This particular post drove a huge response from customers who just wanted to chat. It also gave FatFace a good insight into what customers wanted to hear from them next. 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/AB8rdg91Tmzw-Ftz49pu5ygqYVnOaxqnj_jtmzGlsxyV9rn80UMFChbytXh8R5kwKuPuowX9ceMjnsmjq7Qhpb2KfsiOCuWC08pBvbz8RKwV4kz1QnFKQ_Ahca_Vb00UGsA2zLBv

Keep communicating regularly with your customers

Once you have decided on a direction for your tone of voice (while remaining true to your values), it is time to think about how you will communicate with your customers.

You may want to consider the following approaches:

  1. Talk sensitively with your customers, referencing the coronavirus crisis and adapting your messaging to take into account the limitations of isolation.
  2. Ignore the crisis completely and use your messaging to take your customers’ minds off what is going on. Make them smile. Give them hope. And something to look forward to.
  3. Alternatively, you could do a mixture of points 1 and 2 – adapting your communication efforts depending on the message you need to convey at the time.

Many companies have already sent out marketing emails detailing exactly how they are responding to the coronavirus crisis. The best examples have stayed true to their normal tone of voice but have been completely honest and open in their approach.

Nike is a strong example of a brand which has shifted its marketing approach to reflect ongoing events, offering an on brand message of inspiration and relevance, without actively promoting its product:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/sOaXFLhx3uVkeQHtTDnItUhqWZNYNR_lOvUkcynWmMHhps9OD2AmAmG7gOL_a9LPeB_cCWNqlA6E8BpyYX932EMaZZleA_vzKUYaVD73mnY8nOkzKPw6hQgSYoRfqiEGIMoDEiBN

Many other brands are following suit, offering working from home tips; the perfect staying in style; and tips on keeping yourself occupied at home.

It is these kinds of messages that really resonate with consumers right now because they relate well to their current situation.

Utilise your employees and customers for content

While you may not be able to create content as easily as you would in an office or studio environment, that does not mean that you have to put your content efforts on hold.

Now is the perfect time to keep things simple and make the content work that you can produce work as hard as it can for you.

Your business resource is likely to be limited so make what you can do count – and don’t give yourself a hard time trying to do it all.

One easy and effective content strategy idea is to get your employees and customers involved. This is something we have previously covered in our article ‘How to strategise your user content plan.’

There have been countless emails and social media posts sharing how employees have been keeping themselves entertained, enjoying more time with pets or building creative working from home setups.

While these examples are fairly specific, find ways of creating content that is relevant to your brand proposition.

And if your customers are up for the challenge, put out a call (social media is best for this) asking them to share their own images and ideas.

From this, you can build out a relevant plan that feels authentic and genuine to your followers. Which is so important right now.

Evaluate and apply your learning to your future marketing strategy

It is never too early to start the process of evaluating what worked and what didn’t work during this period.

Like most brands, you will no doubt have had to simplify your processes and create content with a smaller resource. So it might be worth thinking about some lessons learnt that you can reflect on when things start going back to normal – whatever ‘normal’ might be!

For example, could you manage your content with a smaller budget? Could user generated content become a part of your wider marketing strategy? Or are there things you now know you need to invest in?

You may not know all the answers right now, but they are all great examples of questions to start thinking about.

This is undoubtedly a scary and strange time for everyone right now. No-one knows what is going to happen next. But there is also a wealth of opportunity to start refining your communications and marketing efforts to make improvements for the future. 

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Get help with communicating with your customers during Covid-19

If the Coronavirus pandemic has left your business short of resource and in need of some marketing support, please do not hesitate to get in touch with The Content Marketing Team for expert advice, without a pushy sales pitch.

We would be more than happy to talk with you about the best way to keep in touch with your customers in order to support your business during this difficult time.

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