Take a Break and Carry On: Adjust Your Mindset and Messaging During Coronavirus Pandemic

Timing is everything, perhaps now more than ever during this pandemic. As we watch the world around us change drastically, on a daily basis, it’s hard to know what to do. Do we ramp up advertising and customer messaging? Do we push out more offers? Do we create new discounts to keep sales coming in? If there was a crystal ball we trusted at times like these, what would it tell us to do?

Timing is everything, perhaps now more than ever during this pandemic. As we watch the world around us change drastically, on a daily basis, it’s hard to know what to do. Do we ramp up advertising and customer messaging? Do we push out more offers? Do we create new discounts to keep sales coming in? If there was a crystal ball we trusted at times like these, what would it tell us to do?

Nothing.

Yes. Do nothing different. Instead: “Carry on!”

No, I’m not in a state of denial, or naivete. Hear me out:

When everything around us seems to be in a state of chaos and uncertainty, we seek something solid to assure us that not all we know is pushing the “cancel” button, and that some parts of our lives will continue as normal.

When we see brands or businesses or organizations doing “business as usual,” or messaging positive news and actions, we find hope and relief and start to gravitate toward them. Whether they are right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. We need hope, assurance, and a little bit of our current normal, or we fall into states of despair and paralysis.

When we see the organizations or brands in our daily lives panic, we want to avoid their same dilemmas and tend to distance ourselves from them and find alternatives. Our trust in those organizations to be beacons for us during hard times and good times is forever changed.

Not only is our trust changed for those that panicked and gave up during those tough times, so too often is our loyalty.  We find alternatives and quite often those alternatives become our new normal. And when stability comes back to our lives, we stay with that new normal quite often vs. go back to those that panicked and let us down.

As long as you are able, stay the course in terms of keeping stores open and services available, while also abiding by what local and federal mandates require of you, of course. And most importantly, keep communication relevant and timely, while also avoiding overwhelming those you’re messaging. Remember, we’re all receiving a lot of information now, and it can be a lot to digest.

So, how do we “do nothing” effectively? Stay in touch.

Here are some thoughts on staying connected during uncertain times in ways that keep customers aligned with your brand, trusting your position, and ready to come back when life resumes as usual, once again.

Consider:

  • Keep communicating: If you send out weekly emails with product ideas, promotions, account statements, keep doing it. But instead of trying to sell to someone who is scared of life as they know it is over, peddle sincerity, compassion, and interesting stories.
  • Don’t make light of the situation: There is nothing funny from any angle so remain sensitive and stay real. Coors had plans to run an ad on being the best “work at home” beer, originally positioned for March Madness, but pulled it (ahead of the announcement of the tournament being canceled). While the ad was never intended to make fun of the current situation, it could have easily been taken the wrong way, if Coors had not pulled it.
  • This is not an opportunity: Don’t offer coronavirus specials, and don’t push to get in the news by giving away free toilet paper or make shift masks. Don’t use social media to increase impressions with insights about the situation unless you really have helpful information that makes a difference, and you are a credible source for the topic at hand.
  • Provide a healthy distraction: Stressful times are not prime for promoting sales, as efforts are not likely to achieve as much as they would during less uncertain times. It is, however, a great time to tell stories about your brand, your employees, your community causes, your vision. Take this time to be uplifting, again, where appropriate.

Regardless of what business you are in, take a break. Take a break from the routine of pushing sales and counting acquisitions. It’s not going to pay off and your frustration level will just elevate. Stay focused on what you can continue to have a positive effect on: relationships. Keep your brand relationships alive with positive communications, stories of hope and community, and more.

Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight Series, sheds a good light on this situation: “I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.”

Embrace the dark. Look for the stars. And “Shine on!

 

3 IMM Trends to Watch in 2015

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

1. Data. A recent Oracle study projects that big data will be a $50 billion business by 2017. This continued understanding and utility of big data means bigger budgets for analytics, which grew significantly in 2014 and many analysts expect will continue to grow across industries in 2015. Getting big data and marketing analytics right is the No. 1 imperative for companies who wish to lead their markets. Bad or “dirty” data across businesses and the government will cost the U.S. economy $600 billion dollars a year, and many companies are realizing the opportunity cost of not collecting, owning and analyzing their data.

For IMM strategies, using big data is all about connections. Good IMM solutions will help marketers connect business lines, cross-channel customers, loyal brand advocates and dispersed employee bases.

2. Content. We’ve seen social and content come together in 2014 to begin to build an integrated marketing strategy for many marketers. Brands ramped up their content marketing efforts in a big way, and so 2015 investment will add analytics to the mix and focus on ROI to quantify and benchmark these efforts. Good IMM technology and practices helps to operationalize all that content, matching it with lifecycle stage, real-time advertising and insights from analytics and the budget. The result should be higher quality content that is unique to customer and channel. Repurposed content across social networks is not going to cut it any more.

“Know thy customer” will be the mantra of CRM and IMM for 2015. Companies that succeed will be nimble—not only with content that integrates and personalizes campaigns, but also in the resource management and planning process. We are big fans of strategic planning here at TopRight, but budgeting needs to be flexible and responsive to market, customer and competitive change. Managing dynamic programs in ever-changing ecosystems is at the heart of a great IMM approach. Hot areas of investment will include mobility, social media and technologies, Web analytics and e-commerce.

3. Automation. People don’t want “Brand experiences.” They want “My experiences.” IMM and CRM are critical to understanding each customer as a unique person, with interests and demands that are very personal to each. Automation is what lets marketers act on a lot of those opportunities, provided the data is protected and governed and the risk-mitigated for engines to make social gaffes or predictive blunders. Buzzwords like predictive analytics, pre-targeting and iBeacons have made marketers’ roles more complex, but also more powerful, proactive and measurable. Automation will appear this coming year as part of ad placement and retargeting, programmatic buying and campaign management and optimization.

Are you ready for the challenges that 2015 will bring? Your customer connections won’t occur and repeat without wise investments in your IMM and marketing automation technology. It’s a good time of year to assess your prowess in not just owning, but actually using your marketing technology.