How do you increase brand credibility during a public crisis?
One of the wisest things a business can do in times of economic downturn, health collapse, social crises or any other type of global meltdown is to continue to focus on brand loyalty and marketing efforts. Extreme situations require reflection, support and compassionate action.
For some situations, there are no quick, tried-and-true rules, no handbook or prescription for guaranteed brand success, but with careful consideration and tools, there are ways to continue trust in the company and even increase it at critical times. To avoid gaining popularity for the wrong reasons, you should consider some basic guidelines for raising awareness during a crisis:
- Choose the right tone. This is critical in any message your company delivers during stressful situations. And be careful what you communicate in dire moments. For example, a press release or newsletter about winning an award probably won’t be particularly well-received during a crisis – unless that product has a clear benefit related to making our lives better in that particular situation. A message that can be positioned appropriately without being an overt sell and that provides immediate and relevant support or comfort is not only acceptable, but in high demand.
- Empathize with the audience. Instead of going ahead with standard marketing techniques, tailor your ads to empathize with the viewer and their condition. Address the situation directly and acknowledge that “all of us” may be experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety, and insecurity (or whatever your sample research on the topic shows society is experiencing). Compassion for the consumer and bringing out the human face of the brand will lead to recognition during the crisis and brand loyalty.
- Make a difference. Many businesses use the crisis moment to help their consumers and their communities. There are several ways you can differentiate yourself with corporate help:
# Offering bigger discounts at a time when people are particularly worried about their budgets;
# Providing free complementary services, add-ons or extras related to solving the challenges that result from the crisis. For example, during a flood, those affected – from employees to customers – may be assisted with specific material supports – food or clothing packages, socks, and other supports appropriate to the situation and type of business of your organization.
# Rearrange hours and schedules according to specific demographics. Or giving extra hours if some employees “embrace” the idea of helping and work overtime;
# Improving services to be more accessible. For example, if a situation arises where physical stores close or are looted and broken into, or with damage after a hurricane, earthquake, and other disaster, distribution could be done via boats;
# Full entry into the virtual world. As an example, many real estate companies can now offer online home tours and consultations without a live presence as part of their response to the pandemic;
# Using facilities and goods to help overcome the crisis. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic Louis Vuitton used its perfume factories to produce hand sanitizer. Other haute couture houses sewed masks;
# Alter products and services to meet new consumer needs.
Consumers want to know how your business is supporting its employees and their communities in times of crisis. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Starbucks published a letter describing how it would support its employees. Among the measures were: a $3 per hour raise for those who continued to work; the company would continue to pay employees for up to 30 days if they chose or had to quarantine themselves due to the pandemic. In Bulgaria, for example, the E-bag company had similar open communication about the actions taken. The pandemic and lack of serious competition has shot up sales on the site, and as soon as the state of emergency was declared, the online store began hiring new employees.
Different communities can also exchange ideas, for example, the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce (DBIHK) has made a platform on its website where every member can share what it does, what it offers, what it is looking for. Completely free of charge.
When things start getting back to normal, you’ll need to resume marketing efforts and momentum. Companies that have continued to advertise during this critical time period will be able to recover more easily. According to the Economic Times, companies that continued to market aggressively during the 1981/1982 recession, for example, when tight monetary policy in an attempt to combat rising inflation led to an economic downturn, had sales 256% higher than companies that chose to limit their marketing budgets during that period.
At the heart of the company’s successful development during the crisis can also be found the so-called ABM strategy (Account Based Marketing). Through it, the company’s focus is directed towards key accounts. That is, those with the greatest potential to generate greater turnover and profit. Through this type of strategy, marketing teams and salespeople communicate personally with the right people when closing the most significant and large deals to ensure business continuity.