With the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to impact markets around the world, I’ve extended on a number of points in how brands should behave in times of crisis to improve their reputation (or at least keep it levelled).
1. Be diverse
Choose your timing carefully. When all the companies are pushing their caring statements at once, users get overwhelmed. It is always a good idea to diversify communication channels and take the current situation into account. Too many emails? Write on your blog. Too many posts on social networks? Consider an article in a partnering media.
2. Be mindful of your messaging
Some people read news daily and the headlines are not exactly encouraging. Keep your spirits up and your content positive. There is too much unnerving data as it is.
A certain way to murder your reputation is taking advantage of others’ fear. So if you are brave enough to use the outbreak for profit, at least be so kind as to mind the wording. Never “earn money on coronavirus”, rather “earn money from the comfort of your home”. Surely, it’s just business, but it might cost you dearly – both metaphorically and literally.
3. Help others
Multiple brands are now using the lockdown period as an opportunity to invest in their future — by offering discounts or even completely free access to their services – at least, for the time being. A few free books or two weeks of free shows can conquer the hearts of more potential customers than a regular advertisement.
Consider it a bank loan – in due time, you will get what is yours. When the crisis is over, some of the media addicts will have developed a taste for your service and will not want to let go. Such a strategy is likely to prove beneficial for both your churn rate and the company’s total income.
4. Act responsibly
During the pandemic, safety is measured above speed. Non-contact deliveries quickly turned into a new standard, replacing all other ideas of how goods can be shipped. Surgical masks, hand sanitizers, social distance — this is what modern e-commerce retailers and service providers organize just to keep their customers safe.
Surely, someone has to pay for these new safety tiers, but such is the price of being a socially responsible company these days. And that might be the very thing you need to become — tactful enough to respect your customers’ wish to avoid close-range human interaction.
Another responsibility is providing personal data security. GDPR is just another safety measure for customers, paid by the advertiser. Online businesses have to spend money to make their clients feel protected — even more so, when the future is uncertain.
5. Take small steps
As pressure mounts, you may be considering furloughing some staff or the whole department. Or cut your marketing costs to zero. Or shut down your affiliate program and all publishers with it.
No matter what you do, it is best to consider how it will hurt other marketers. Building your brand is not just about public image, but also about communication with your business partners. Do not cut your business strings without proper communication. It is not the easiest way, but it is certainly more humane and gives you more space to resume your partnership when the storm is over. Otherwise, you risk losing contacts crucial for your future development.
Also, keep your prices at bay. If you really need to increase them, do it slowly. When the times are bad, doubling them overnight becomes a slap in the face of customers. And trust me, they will remember and hold the grudge against you.
6. Provide solutions
In times like that, it is a smart move to be there for your customers and show that you have things under control. Office? Closed during the pandemic. Employees? Working remotely. New products? Might take longer to release. We are sorry, we are doing our best.
Talking about your problems is okay, but you know what’s better? Solutions. Show how cunningly you adapt to the new market paradigm. How you solve problems your business is facing and how support your partners.
Adapt and overcome. And be ready to accept some extra traffic — in case the increased flow of online visitors overwhelms your server.
7. Stay true to yourself
In the end, improving your reputation comes down to giving more than you take. Pay for this and that, take your service one extra step further when others do not. Provide all the features you claim to provide. Build trust.
But most importantly — stay true to your values. Be stable when everything else collapses. It surely takes a certain amount of zen, but it is exactly what people will seek — a peaceful harbour. An anchor. A shelter.
One day, all of this will be over and we will meet again over the conference table to discuss new terms. I sure hope we will.
Over and out. Stay safe and take care!