We are all doing our best to cope under the current circumstances, and I believe that within adversity lies an opportunity to change, evolve and adapt.
Whether you’re an individual, entrepreneur or brand, the need of the hour is to reassess, rethink and reinvent your approach. While influencers, billionaires and corporations are joining hands to aid those in need, brands need to sustain business activities and simultaneously make a positive contribution to those around them.
I recently spoke with brand strategist Alex McCurry, founder of Astra Media, which is helping businesses, brands and entrepreneurs reinvent their digital marketing strategy. Our conversation inspied me to share the following five ways in which brands can rethink their online strategy and make relevant offerings as we all turn our focus toward recovery.
With people spending much more time on social media platforms than ever before, brands need to shift focus to their digital operations and look for effective ways to connect, interact and transact with their audience. McCurry says that several brands and large brick-and-mortar retailers are now looking to strengthen their digital presence to sustain operations, be it by leveraging ecommerce or offering special incentives.
“I think companies are beginning to understand the importance of social media and digital presence,” he argues. “I think it’s only a matter of time until even the most stubborn executives begin to see the value of these digital tools.”
Now is the time when we must do all we can to help each other. For brands, it is a unique opportunity to think outside the box and create innovative ideas that enable them to come forward and make a difference. “Being greedy or calloused during times of strife can be suicidal for companies,” McCurry cautions. “On the other hand, showing a level of compassion and selflessness can help build long-term customer loyalty.”
An example that comes to mind is how Bacardi shifted production to supply methanol and help manufacture hand sanitizers. Bacardi has a massive presence online and launched a campaign dubbed #raiseyourspirits, which raised $3 million to support local bars and restaurants who were suffering due to the outbreak.
During a global health crisis, there are bound to be rapid changes in both consumer behavior and market dynamics. It is essential to monitor brand communication at all times and quickly adapt to changing circumstances. McCurry points to how Dyson is considering a shift in production to create 15,000 ventilators to help the UK’s Nation Health Service and cope with the pandemic.
“Being timely and understanding the importance of how market conditions and other changes can affect the relevancy of your product is imperative,” he says. “Remaining relevant and self-aware of your product can often determine whether you succeed or not during times like this.”
Dyson kept tabs on the situation and chose to make a significant alteration in their line of production. Rather than marketing hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, they decided to change their stance by providing much needed medical equipment, ultimately saving lives.
Support a Cause
Though business may be slow at the moment, it offers brands the opportunity to reach out to their audience online and initiate new and meaningful conversations. You must understand what customers expect from you as a brand and how it can be delivered.
McCurry shares an interesting example: Kenneth Cole decided to donate 20 percent of all its online sales to the Solidarity Response Fund created by the World Health Organization. Since everyone is holed up at home, leading gyms and fitness studios are offering free at-home workouts along with video-based guides and tutorials for exercises.
“People like to be affiliated with projects that they think are making a difference,” McMurry reasons. “The power of philanthropy and social entrepreneurship is huge, as it dramatically increases a consumer’s confidence in your brand.”
Solve Pertinent Issues
It is essential to communicate often and effectively how your brand is helping consumers face challenges. “All of the compassion and lip service in the world is meaningless without action,” states McCurry. “By providing real, tangible solutions, it shows consumers that you truly practice what you preach.”
As examples, think of how restaurants are now providing customers no-contact doorstep delivery or the way big-box stores like Walmart have allocated special hours for senior citizens, ensuring they can stock up on essentials without any risk.
In my own experience, sometimes a brand needs to stop thinking about statistics, revenue and returns and start thinking of genuine ways to add value and alleviate current stresses. It’s not always about monetary donations or volumes. When you stop, empathize and act and take time and effort to help those around you, it speaks volumes about you — far louder than words.