How smart brands communicate during a crisis.

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How to communicate with consumers in uncertain times.   

Given the rapidly changing situation, knowing when and how to communicate with customers and prospects will not always be clear. That’s something we have to accept as marketers right now. Our counsel – strike a calm, authentic tone that communicates we’re in this together.

Apply common sense and maintain authenticity. Astute marketers will seek to understand consumer sentiment while recognizing it will likely be all over the board for the time being – largely depending on their world view, their individual situation, or the latest news alert flashing across their screen. These issues may very well go beyond your target audience’s demographics. Also, what your voice of the customer data told you last month or even last week may not be true today in this developing situation. Monitoring consumer sentiment and really understanding the motives underlining your best customer’s behavior will be key and very likely could be changing as we speak.

Consider whether you truly have something useful to say. It is also important to remember consumers are currently inundated with messaging about from their bank, tourism affinity programs, and a variety of service providers, never mind the litany of confusing and quickly changing information about the severity of the virus and the appropriate actions to take.  And at some point, if not already, they will reach saturation. Make sure what you have to communicate provides real value and matters to your customer base. This too requires understanding them.

Be smart but not insensitive. In the near term, we expect savvy affluent consumers with available cash recognize this as a good time to scoop up deals on luxury products they’ve long been considering and even take advantage of low interest rates. And, by all means, we hope they do. Right now, more of that is what the economy needs which will benefit the greater good. But, that doesn’t mean a luxury automobile dealer advertising “come on down, our parking lot is empty” (true story) amidst a national debate over whether to self-quarantine is the right thing to do.

This is lesson is particularly important for all franchise brands. Your franchisees and independent retailers could use some guidance on messaging and promotion now more than ever. Consider this popular Mayo Angelo quote, I may not remember what you said, but I remember how you made me feel. Same is true for brand communications and thereby retail promotions in a tumultuous time. Consider how your message will land with your customers. Your future sales could depend on it.