COVID-19 is unlike any other crisis the world has experienced before and the end is nowhere in sight (yet). The uncertainty it brings calls for effective crisis management.
Some companies seem to lose sight of the importance of marketing in crisis management as several businesses cut back on their marketing efforts.
While this could solve current issues, the disadvantages of this move will eventually outweigh the benefits in the long run. Putting marketing efforts on hold now will make it harder for your company to adjust to the “new normal” after this pandemic is over.
According to research done by AdAge, history shows that brands who continue spending despite the difficult times fare much better than brands who are cutting down their marketing efforts.
Despite the many negative effects of COVID-19, it cannot be denied that it has also brought the best in people as we see communities help each other, and we’ve seen a number of companies rise to the occasion by supporting their employees, customers and communities.
There are opportunities in crisis. This pandemic may be one of the most difficult times but when your company is able to respond the right way, it can be one of the most rewarding. During these tough times, people need to know that you care. The demand for humanization in your business is higher than ever–both internally and externally.
Building Trust through Humanization
A crisis is one of the best times that a company can build or improve the people’s trust in the brand.
This is the time where you can plant a seed of trust, not only among your customers, but also among your team. How you will handle your employees during this time of crisis will forge an enduring impact on their engagement, productivity and loyalty.
As Forbes put it, “In these uncertain times, how you treat your employees will be remembered for years to come.” This is why companies should take on the human-centered approach in managing their people.
Let them know that their welfare is your priority. Put them first. Your employees should be the most important thing to you right now for they are the ones who will help you get through these hard times.
We’ve seen companies all over the world protect their people by allowing their team to work from home. In the case of frontliners, companies have provided their people with all the necessary safety equipment. And some even went an extra mile like Walmart who are paying their frontline workers with cash bonuses.
What you do to your employees will not only create a lasting impact on them, but it will also help you gain the trust of your consumers. It may not increase sales right away, but they will establish goodwill and help build long-term loyalty.
In Edelman’s 2020 Trust Report, 90 percent of their respondents want companies to protect the well-being and safety of their employees even if it means big financial losses.
In the same report, it stated that when the brand earned their trust more than 50 percent of the respondents will reward the brand with loyalty (even if it isn’t the cheapest), engagement (they’ll be more willing to share personal information with the brand and listen more to what the brand says), and advocacy (they’ll share content about the brand, recommend the brand, and even defend the brand).
Nowadays, social media has given even ordinary people power to make their voices heard at a larger scale. If you are a disgruntled employee, you can easily let other people know how unhappy you are with the way a company is doing things and you can find other people who feel the same way faster than it was before.
It doesn’t even matter whether the issue is true or not, having a negative issue raised online will affect your company’s reputation and how people will perceive your brand.
This is why it is more crucial now more than ever to humanize one’s business. While there is no guarantee that there won’t be any unhappy employees, taking care and respecting your employees is the first step to building loyalty and establishing mutual respect.
Even before the pandemic started, humanizing a brand makes all the difference in gaining consumer’s trust. People do not naturally trust companies.
By default, they are seen as faceless entities whose purpose is to make money. This is why marketing strategies have been more geared towards humanizing a brand. Taking on a human-centric approach will help in gaining trust from consumers and consequently increase conversions.
To do well in the New Economy, during and after COVID-19 disruption, it is important to have a real-time 360 view and understanding of a customer’s whole experience at every stage from discovery (pre-sales) to engagement to retention to loyalty (to re-purchase) to advocacy (recommending/defending a brand).
And at every stage, customers are reporting that they expect connected experiences. It requires humanization at every stage. According to Salesforce research, 84 percent of consumers state that the experience the company provides is as important as its products and services.
By understanding the consumer’s experience in real-time, you are able to come up with more appropriate strategies to create better experiences for them, and when they have extraordinary experiences with you, they’ll be more loyal to you.
With the current situation, marketing experts have agreed that companies can take advantage of social media to connect with people. It is not the time to be idle and you do not have to sell a product or service to create bonds with your consumers.
Humanizing your business to them involves social listening and proactive engagement. This is the time when companies should pay attention to what’s important to their consumers right now.
By taking on a human-centric approach you can think of something of value to offer to them in that moment and this is your chance to take an action and provide a solution. Ask yourself, “What can you do to empower your consumers during this time of uncertainty?”
Some COVID19 company emails and ads were criticized for being so similar that they felt insincere despite their heartwarming messages.
Companies should understand that the needs of customers are evolving and the classical marketing approach, one-to-many, is no longer as effective. All forms of engagement should be personalized. Your message should be tailored to the specific needs of your specific audience.
We are all living in uncertainty and are still adapting to this new normal. No one has come up yet with the best approach to deal with this new situation. But the best you can do for now is to be hopeful, be empathetic, be creative, be relatable, be approachable, and most importantly, be human.
May this serve as a message of hope that being human may very well be the best silver lining to all of our current vicissitudes.
In love and respect,
Founder & CEO, Corna Partners