Husain Habib is the Co-Founder & CMO of Hats-Off Digital, a communication agency dedicated to creating, building and energizing brands. With a blend of purpose-driven creativity, brand marketing acumen on Mobile, Print, PR, Outdoor, Research and Digital media prowess, Hats-Off Digital delivers programming that creates compelling connections between people and products. Graduated in Marketing and Human Resource Management from IIT Bombay, Husain Habib has also directed several short films and documentaries.
Governments across the globe are taking strict measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and daily life is changing drastically for people around the world. No business is working with the same pre-pandemic strategy. Every day, companies are coming up with new ideas and plans aimed at lowering the curve of the effect of a pandemic on their businesses.
As physical movements and social interactions remain limited for the future, Omnichannel marketing is losing a crucial channel that is in-real-life (IRL) interactions and the marketing industry is already feeling the ripple effects on many levels. Marketers are trying to adjust to a new world with changing consumer habits and new strategies that keep brands relevant. The disaster recovery system in business requires a quick introspection during the lockdown scenario. The nature of businesses varies, and their plans also differ in such COVID-19 affected economies.
The social media and branding is not just a way of promotion; it is the way to engage with the customers, and the brands must not disconnect the engagement with the customers.
Consumers look to have a personal connection with their go-to brands. According to the results of a recent survey we conducted, people will follow brands on social media for information related to their hobbies, more often than they will follow them for product updates. The relationship between a consumer and a brand is about more than a transaction. You must communicate how your business is responding to the pandemic early and often. Your messaging should avoid piling on the overload of information your customers are receiving, and instead focus on adding real value and service. By communicating early and following up with a valuable resource, your brand can effectively build trust in the long-term.
Adapt your social media and branding strategy to incorporate the communication tools users have now become accustomed to using daily. While video chatting has been around for a long time, the forced reliance on these tools to connect with friends and family has made it more prevalent.
Brands are leveraging more dynamic social media advertising, webinars, Live chat tools, video content, and promotions. These practical marketing tools will not only keep you virtually connected to your audience, but they will also keep them engaged. Shifting your marketing money to accommodate the new communications landscape will help you to reach and engage your audience where they are spending more time, show support for your audience by adapting to maintain your relationship with them, establish your brand as an active participant and industry leader within your space and compensate for offline marketing tactics you’re unable to execute during this time.
Explore new digital marketing
More consumers are going online than ever, and brands are expanding their digital content through video, social media, and brand advocacy. Traditional marketing outlets such as direct mail or televised ads have too slow of a production process to keep up with the news cycle, which is why digital channels are crucial. Businesses need to not only hinge on digital marketing techniques but also their content. Brands are doing this by focusing their content on education and entertainment. The focus of digital platforms is expected to remain the same in a post-pandemic world, as companies have reached new audiences and discovered advanced creative techniques.
Keep it real
Whether you are promoting a cause, ramping up recruitment, or reaching out during a pandemic, your messaging won’t work unless it’s authentic. Make sure the content and actions are pointed at creating social value which the public can remember. According to research, 69% of consumers stated, they will never choose any brands that are placing profits before people during the pandemic in the future. As many brands take a serious look at their marketing budget, it is crucial to invest in content and activities that will build trust with your consumers in the long-term, as well as bring benefits to your community. Brands who can highlight their products while also demonstrating how they are giving back to their customers or communities in this time of crisis will see appreciation. Being a socially responsible brand is significantly increasing in value, and not only among the younger generations.
Learn and Be Prepared
Most businesses were blindsided and hit very hard financially by the pandemic. Take the time to evaluate where your business was the weakest when the crisis arrived and make the investment to remedy it. No one can really predict if another pandemic will come, but if it does, will your business survive again? Developing a thorough plan and protocol for future situations will help protect your business and your employees.
Pivotal moments are not the time to stay quiet or play it safe. It is important to be clear about who your brand is and how you want it to be viewed on social media. Anything in-between will be ineffective and will come through as inauthentic to social media users.
Work with your PR and marketing team to prepare social media and branding responses for various situations now. They may need to be customized later, but they will help minimize the panic of scrambling to address it all in real-time. Brands who can confidently acknowledge and address sensitive conversations with well-thought-out messaging will be able to weather the storm and be viewed as an industry leader.
But, maybe you feel that taking a firm position in sensitive situations is not the right fit for your brand. At the very least, continue to monitor these conversations and consider how your audience is affected by them. Even if you are not chiming in, that doesn’t mean that a user won’t bring you into those discussions.