There is only one thing on everyone’s minds at the moment and that’s the corona crisis. Infections are rising daily and governments are introducing increasing measures to stop the virus spreading. People are being told to isolate and this is having a knock-on effect on businesses. How do companies ensure that they remain relevant during the crisis?
Don’t exploit the situation
This is first and foremost a health crisis. Don’t try and exploit fear by trying to talk about the crisis and suggesting your brand has the answers. This is no marketing opportunity to capitalize on, nor should brands be opportunistically linking themselves to a health scare.
As Alex Josephson and Eimear Lambe wrote for Twitter last week: “It’s about understanding the unique role your brand plays in people’s lives, how that has changed, and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis. It’s also about looking for opportunities to lead by example, and do the right thing, where it makes sense for your business".
But do try and retain existing customers
If the crisis threatens your ability to win new customers, it makes sense to hang on to the ones you have. Your customers will be rightly worried and you need to reassure them. Proactive companies are emailing their customers to either reassure them their service is continuing, or if it isn’t then how it is changing. Businesses are made of people, and people like to know where they are during uncertain times.
Can your company do anything useful to help?
There are not many companies out there who could claim to be developing a vaccine to COVID-19. However, that aside, many companies are finding they have something to offer which might help to stop the spread of the virus. Fashion brands Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and H&M have just announced that they will start producing face masks. Lieferando has recognized that its delivery staff moving door-to-door could pose a danger and therefore the food delivery company has announced all delivery staff will now deliver “contactless”. Online medical portal Instadoc.at is offering doctors a free 3 months trial so that they can conduct online rather than face-to-face appointments with patients via the site. The health platform GoSpring has developed a personalised online survey so that visitors can test their risk of catching the virus. Doctors then offer clear medical recommendations on the basis of this information.
Could you do anything to help with the knock-on effects?
If your company can’t help prevent the spread of the virus, perhaps it can help to alleviate the knock-on effects? Grover, for example, is an online platform that offers a flexible rental service for consumer electronics. With devices such as notebooks, tablets and smartphones they support people who work from home or homeschool their children. The company is currently reporting an increase in rental income. Schuhe24, an online portal which supports local shoe shops, is adding increasing numbers of local shoe dealers to their site who would otherwise be prevented from selling directly to customers since the closure of all non-necessary stores. Recognise all you can do to help and let people know about it.
Can you adapt your service to stay relevant?
You provide a face-to-face service which is no longer possible to deliver during the crisis? Find another way to keep in touch with customers. Many health and fitness providers are now running free classes online for children, adults and seniors. Some providers have announced promotions for new customers. With the online fitness course provider Gymondo you can train for 1 month for free and cancel within this month without paying anything.These offers break up the boredom of isolation and get people moving. And while these free classes won’t earn them any money, they will succeed in keeping fitness brands fresh in the minds of a target group rightly seeking physical movement while isolated at home. It also helps these companies build up an online business and perhaps the opportunity will be there later when the crisis has subsided for these companies to monetarise this in the future.
Many small retailers are also offering customers a special service. Some bookstores, which have had to close their shops due to the tightened measures to combat the virus, offer to deliver books to their customers' homes to combat boredom. Likewise, many men's and women's outfitters now offer their customers the extra service of sending a selection of the latest fashion collections by parcel post - and advise them on how to dress by telephone or WhatsApp.
These will be testing times for business. Stay relevant by communicating what your company can do to help people in the crisis.