In a time of confusion and economic uncertainty, there are new questions over how to run our businesses and be there for our customers. With no benchmark to measure economic and social impact, uncertainty is the new norm, and brands must provide clarity.
Companies are adapting at breakneck speed. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering curbside pickup to protect its customers and staff. DoorDash is discounting delivery services to help working parents. Walgreens is making it easier to get critical prescriptions. Measures such as these have been essential in instilling a sense of community, care, and trust.
We must not attempt to carry on business as usual. We can no longer think about marketing and advertising in the same ‘brand vs. demand’ framework. Now is the time for brand assurance — to actively fulfill brand promises, to help customers, and to maintain brand reputation.
Deliver locally helpful messaging
Reimagining how to communicate with your customers is more crucial than ever. Right now, they require a level of engagement that is both sensitive and informative, and this is a marketer’s responsibility.
General offer or discount emails from companies are unlikely to be helpful or speak to your audience, and should be avoided at all costs. If anything is likely to destroy your brand image, it’s distastefully timed ads.
Don’t do all of this work, and somehow send the wrong message, the wrong ad, or align with the wrong local business because of faulty data. Examine and audit the location data that helps your brand assure your customers locally. If brand safety ever had a higher bounty – it would be now.
Scaled-down, micro-targeted campaigns, adapted to meet the needs of local communities, are a prime example of helpful local messaging.
Brands can ensure relevance by providing customers with real-time information. Stock updates from pharmacies or supermarkets, revised opening times, contact details and waiting times, and employment opportunities for the newly unemployed, to name several examples, all provide real-world, timely support to customers. This help will increase brand confidence, now and in the future.
Regardless of the degree to which measures are taken, it is essential that brands don’t disappear. Reduced exposure – in the form of withholding data – while pushing sales to the community will alienate customers. Real-time information should be given with ethical standards in mind. This means leading with information that educates customers on the most urgent topics related to your business.
Align and support locally
Key in all of the above is the idea of community. In a world typically consumed with the global, the current climate has shifted focus to the local – a change that should be reflected in marketing practices.
Wider-targeted campaigns are no longer so relevant, and campaigns should instead be developed on a micro level. This could take the form of community-wide campaigns developed to redistribute excess stock, to provide alternative healthcare options, or to manage volunteer support. These are bound to be of far more value than global campaigns that fail to offer real, tangible support to match the current moment.
Individuals need immediate assistance, and small, community campaigns are more likely to provide it. If a brand hopes to maintain, or even boost, its reputation, local support should be a priority.
Realize your importance
Now is the time for human sensitivity, for brands to hold hands with the local communities that have helped them succeed and will likely continue to do so.
Going dark or taking a backseat in moments of strife and uncertainty doesn’t seem like much of a human option. Heroes run toward those in need, not away. They show selflessness, and they make life easier. Here’s to the brands, businesses, and leaders choosing to do all they can to enhance their relationships locally in these times.
The article Why and How to Take Steps Toward Brand Assurance by Jason Smith first appeared on Street Fight.