There hasn’t been a year that has challenged business owners and marketers the way 2020 has in most of our lifetimes. How do you market your product and services if your business is closed, deemed “non-essential” or serving only a fraction of your customers? And how do you revise your messaging so that it isn’t tone deaf to a pandemic, a severe recession, and boiling-over racial tensions? In 2020, consumers and decision makers demand authentic, sensitive and inclusive communications from companies they do business with.
If you’ve tried to make swift updates to your branding, brand messaging, or content marketing, you know that a meaningful shift can’t be achieved by simply adding an #inthistogether hashtag.
Staying relevant in our current era requires spending some time reaffirming your fundamental brand promise, or differentiator, as well as the language and visuals you use to communicate your brand’s essence. What does your brand stand for? What does it deliver to customers? Why do your customers choose your brand and stay loyal to it? And how does that contribute to making your community or our society better? It’s worth spending the time to articulate these answers clearly and concretely, and in a more robust way than just “We’re here to help” or “We’re here for you.” To stand out now, in a time of social and economic upheaval, look for something deeper and more thoughtful that you can say. How can you highlight the contribution your company is making right now? Do the parts that your company manufactures keep plants running and employees working? Does the software you develop make it easier to maintain social distancing at work or at home? Are there value-added services or information you can offer? Do you source all of your materials locally? Keep brainstorming to uncover all the possibilities.
Regardless of industry, several studies have shown that today’s consumer appreciates brands that communicate authentically and transparently. Label Insight, a company that specializes in product data, conducted a consumer behavior study of 2,000 respondents and found that 94 percent of consumers are likely to show loyalty to a brand that offers complete transparency. The same study also found that 39 percent of consumers would start using a brand if it offered full product transparency. What does this mean for your brand messaging? It means consumers and decision makers can sense when you aren’t putting in the effort and just adding hollow hashtags and templated copy updates. Make sure your brand is being true to its core promise, and the voice it has created, at all times, but especially during this time.
Integrate Refined Messaging Into Current Marketing
Your brand messaging conveys to consumers who you are, why your brand matters, what it stands for and why it is the absolute best option for your target demographic — and, why your brand is all those things right now. Has your business been around for years? Then it might be time to showcase some of the other tough times your company has weathered, how you shepherded your customers through those times, and how you have the experience to successfully do that again. That’s a way to refine your messaging, make it resonate now, but stay true to the essence of what your brand is. If you can distill such a story or message into a brand position statement, illustrate it with infographics or photos or videos, invest in those assets. They will be put to good use in the months ahead.
Understand Your Customers
Have you ever done a customer survey? Take another look at those results or consider doing another survey soon. You can also get good customer information by looking at what is getting the most traffic on your website or social media. What links get clicked the most in your emails? This will give you some insight into what your customers are concerned with right now. You can also use your website, email newsletter and social media to ask your customers some questions. Keep it short and focused on clearly usable information (Ask questions such as “On a scale of 1-5, How important are COVID-19 distancing and sanitary measures when you make purchasing decisions?” rather than “What new products would you like to see from us?”) This will help further illuminate what matters to your customers and how your company’s specific product or service improve their lives. Customers often appreciate being asked for feedback, and you’ll collect solid information that you can analyze about what they appreciate about your product, as well as deeper, overarching themes and preferences that can be gleaned from their responses. And, ask your sales team what kind of feedback they have been getting from existing and potential customers when promoting your products or services.
Engage Your Employees
In addition to refining the messaging you communicate to external audiences, make sure you are being transparent, sensitive and authentic in your messaging to your own employees as well. Think about how your brand promise applies to them. Employees who are highly loyal and dedicated will relish the opportunity to be more involved in communicating about the brand now, if the messaging you are putting out strikes a chord with them. The more human and personal you can make your messaging to your employees, the more buy-in and appreciation you’ll receive in return. Your employees should act as constant promoters of your brand through their marketing and sales efforts, customer service and overall professional conduct.
Times have changed. So, take the time to revisit what your company brand stands for, review your marketing messages to make sure it reflects the current environment, reach out to your customers to better understand their immediate needs and keep your brand values alive within your own organization to make sure your team is delivering on your brand promise.