The global economy has been thrust into an inflection point. As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world, there is virtually no line of business that won’t be impacted. That means your brand will be too.
Things are moving fast and change will be constant in the coming months. The normal pace of economic evolution will increase rapidly and many brands will be severely disrupted. What is evident at this moment is that there will be a clear line of demarcation between brands that communicate well and those who don’t. Every company, organization, and individual professional should stop and consider what this means for their future.
The time to sharpen your communications tools is now. Communications decisions made in the course of the coming days, weeks, and months will make or break many brands. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some thoughts on how you might be able to best navigate these anxious times and perhaps come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with a stronger and more appreciated brand than ever before.
This Is Not Business As Usual
Despite some messages to the contrary, this is not business as usual. Things are going to be very strange for at least a few weeks and the quicker you and your brand realize this the better off you will be. Any communications strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic should begin with a basic understanding that people are anxious, concerned, and uncertain. If your brand can’t incorporate that into its thinking then you will almost certainly make a mistake. The good news is that it has never been easier to gauge where customers and clients are emotionally. My suggestion is to hit the pause button on any ongoing campaigns and consider if they are still relevant to where the world is at this time. If the answer is no, then it’s time to pivot.
Every Message Must Start With Empathy
Effective communications during the COVID-19 pandemic must start with empathy. Before pressing send on any message, stop and think about how customers, clients, and the broader marketplace will interpret it. The most important factor in making good judgments for your message is to consider what people need most right now. Odds are that your target audience is not looking to hear about what you normally do, create, or produce. What people want most right now is to find some comfort in the madness. The public is looking for some solid ground to stand on while they wait on uncertainty to pass. Brands that strive to provide that will find success in this storm.
Tell Stories That Match the Mood of the Masses
Communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic is a particularly delicate situation, but the best way to be effective is to make sure your brand matches the mood of the masses. That means that while people are anxious, concerned, and uncertain your brand must be able to acknowledge those emotions. This means that if you want to deliver relevant, timely, and valuable messages they must be constructed with the mood of the audience in mind. Emotional intelligence has never been more important for your brand. Those who will be most successful in communicating with their customers and clients in the coming weeks will stand out because they are telling stories that matter at this moment.
This Is Not a Time to Sell
Nobody wants to be sold at this time. Overbearing sales pitches are going to result in people ditching popular brands. Instead of trying to make sales, brands should aim to bring value. People will be looking for insights and information that comes from trusted and reliable sources. Brands that can position themselves properly will be able to forever change how their audience sees them. Meanwhile, those who make missteps may suffer greatly. The world will be wanting to see and hear messages that position these challenging times in a positive way. Brands that can make themselves relevant to the immediate needs of their customers and clients will stand to gain exponentially in the future.
Strive to Make a Lasting Connection with Customers and Clients
The growth rate at which customers and clients will be engaging with digital content in the coming weeks will be explosive. It may be the greatest opportunity in our lifetime to make a lasting connection with customers and clients. As more and more folks settle into their homes and practice social distancing, there will be a massive spike in content consumption. Brands that can create messages in which valuable insights and information are shared through engaging content will win in a big way. What you will see happen over the next few weeks is that many content creators will struggle to find their footing with consumers who are normally excited and enthusiastic to consume a brand’s regularly scheduled programming. The key to creating effective content during the COVID-19 pandemic is to start every message with a desire to make a genuine connection with the person consuming it. Those brands that can do this well will create strong and long-lasting relationships with customers and clients.
I hope you find these thoughts helpful as you work through your communications strategies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe these to be among the most important considerations for creating effective communications at this time. Things will be happening fast with changes occurring quickly. It is critical that communicators consider how their brand messages may be received during the next few weeks. I wish you the best in your efforts to bring value to those who are looking for it while we work through the challenges of COVID-19.