Everything about the world has changed overnight it seems, and we’ve got a front-row seat. We’re living in an unprecedented moment of uncertainty, but one thing is for sure — brands need to act NOW to remain relevant to their customers and strengthen bonds with new ones.
I have been coaching clients on my SUPERFANS System for years, and Step #3 — Personalize & Connect — has become absolutely vital in the era of coronavirus. That’s because the lack of physical closeness makes people want to feel virtual closeness more than ever. In this time of social distancing, feeling seen and heard is invaluable.
We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to support brands, people, and causes whose values reflect our own. People are looking for a way to feel connected to something meaningful, and something that makes this lonely, scary time a little bit more bearable for all of us.
Brands need to focus on connecting their story to their customers’ stories at this time, in a powerful way.
So here’s my advice to you, dear readers, for connecting with your customers in this moment:
1. Make sure your marketing is about your CUSTOMERS first, THEN you.
Customers are extremely sensitive to being taken advantage of in this moment when so many are vulnerable. Your first job is to build trust with them by addressing their fears, making their customer experience easier, and treating them how they want to be treated. If you try to prioritize your bottom line first, they will know.
2. Make sure your customers know you’re there to LISTEN.
Regardless of what you sell or offer, they should know WHEN and HOW they can reach you with feedback or questions. The “connect” part becomes super important when they can’t see you physically, have lunch with you, or go to your store. Now is the time to make sure your processes for customer communication feel personal to them.
3. Find an authentic way to give back.
To the extent that you can, let your followers know how you’re trying to make peoples’ lives better. It could be giving a portion of profits, donating time, supplies, food, etc. Make sure what you do connects with your “why” and rings true to what you and your customers care about. This is not a PR stunt, so don’t hit them over the head with it. The point is to do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because it makes for a good ad campaign.
So many brands — big and small — are getting this wrong. Think back to the early days of quarantine. How many dozens of emails did you get from brands telling you what they were doing to tackle COVID-19? One from every company you’ve ever shared your email address with, right? And how many of those same messages added value, or increased the connection you felt with the brand in some way? Probably very, very few. In fact, at least a handful probably made you angry… not a good look for any brand ever, but especially not during a global pandemic.
Now and always, remember to ask yourself three simple questions before you hit “Publish” or “Send” on any type of communication: Why am I putting this into the world? What is the purpose of this message, and How is it making my customers or clients feel better, not worse? Do that, and you’ll find that you can emerge from any challenge — recent worldwide quarantine included — stronger than when you entered it.