There are no case studies or blueprints to guide businesses during these challenging and uncertain times.
From a personal perspective we know we must protect ourselves and our families by adhering to strict health guidelines and measures put in place by government. But as businesses owners we face many other challenges and have important decisions to make.
One of these decisions is: Do we continue with marketing and communication? And if we do, what do we communicate, how much is enough, too little or too much?
With everyone being bombarded by Covid-19 messages, we believe that any crises-related communications should be written in an empathetic way and only contain information that our customers would want and need to know.
Examples of this would be healthcare related practices advising their customers that:
- They now consult online or have a helpline available
- They can now order and get prescriptions processed telephonically
- Certain products are out or back in stock and that they now allow for kerbside collections and/or do home based deliveries
- They will only see people on an appointment basis and urge them not to arrive early as they limit the number of people allowed in their practice
- About all the measures they have put in place to protect customers and staff from when they enter the store until they leave.
Similarly, for operators in the hospitality industry these communications could include:
- Restaurants temporarily becoming compliant essential food services suppliers and informing their customers and community of meal and delivery options
- Changes in the business model of hotels, game lodges and guest houses and their booking terms and policies
In the case of Consulting and Advisory Businesses:
- What virtual services they now offer
- How they can help people and businesses navigate financial or business challenges and / or mediate with creditors and institutions on their behalf
- Provide sound advise on how to manage budgets and financial affairs during these times
For business and tourism organizations:
- A call to action for essential local businesses to support or where possible only stock locally produced products to protect jobs and limit the impact on local economy
- Provide guidance and advise on how business can support each other to protect the local economy and jobs
- What everyone can do to aid and support to the most vulnerable and the elderly
If you have been forced to close your store or establishment, then it would be advisable to communicate if there are any other buying options available to customers and how you are dealing with internal staff issues.
This will also let your customers know where you stand on important issues which will build trust and ensure your store is one of the first places they visit when you reopen
If you are offering alternative products, services or ways to buy that comply with measures put in place by the government to protect the livelihoods of your staff and to ensure the health and safety of your customers, you have every right and should appeal to your customers and your community for their continued support.
If done in the right way, we believe your customers will respond positively to your appeal and support you.
If you plan to give some of your proceeds from sales to support the most vulnerable and at-risk people or communities during these times, then we would urge you to provide complete clarity about how this will work.
The last thing you want is for your customers to think that you are trying to take advantage of a crisis or using it to push sales.
Be careful and considerate
There is a lot of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety so you need to be sensitive about the language you use in your marketing materials and messages.
Should you stop your normal marketing activities?
Just because you’re communicating critical updates and information to your customers doesn’t mean you should put a hold on your marketing and communication activities. We would however advise that when doing this, you communicate in a considerate way that could include creating awareness about some of the challenges faced by society and your local community.
What about planned campaigns and developments?
Whilst we cannot overemphasise the importance of being empathetic, be believe you should remain positive and pro-active during this time as your customers and communities will be looking for sources
- of stability and good news
- of inspiration, hope, humour, happiness and positivity
- that can distract them from the reality around them
- that can provide them with guidance on how to better run their business from home
- that can provide them with ideas of what they can do at home to supplement their incomes
- of information on how to keep their children engaged and entertained during a pro-longed homestay
It is also an opportune time to get your customer to share some ideas and provide feedback. Don’t forget that during times like these, you have the opportunity to build even stronger and longer lasting relationships with your customers. As a last word we would urge you to find ways to keep your customers engaged, informed, entertained and delighted. Just make sure your messages strike the perfect balance between light-hearted and compassionate.
If you require assistance, guidance, a different perspective or just need someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. As your partners we are committed to help you navigate your way through these challenging times and unchartered waters.