In this age of radical visibility, technology and media have given individuals the power to stand up for their opinions and beliefs on a grand scale. Companies are under the spotlight like never before, especially as they navigate the recent pandemic. Because customers aren’t just making decisions based on what you’re doing to respond to coronavirus. They’re now assessing what you’re doing for your employees, your customers, and your community.
What worked even last month doesn’t work the same way today. Having a website, some social media, and some print ads talking about what you do and how great you are isn’t going to cut it. Price, quality, and customer experience are still important and expected, but they’re now table stakes. No bonus points awarded.
The trend over the last few years has included consumers looking for brands that align with their personal values. They want to support the ideals they believe in, and they’re now using their dollars to do that. And that’s more important now than ever.
It all boils down to authenticity.
How is your business communicating, marketing, and portraying itself authentically? What are your core values, and how are you using those values to clearly communicate your brand story?
Here are four ways to help your business connect authentically with your customers during COVID-19 and beyond.
Identify Your Brand Story
This is a point we’ve covered multiple times, but we truly believe that every business has a story, and it’s key to connecting authentically with your audience.
Your brand story could be as simple as you getting into the plumbing business because you needed a job and it was something you were familiar with. But, now, you own your own plumbing business and have 20 employees. You’ve provided for your family. You’ve helped countless members of your community. And, then, when you think about it, you also participate as a team in local community clean-ups.
There’s so much more to your business, and once you start to think of it as a story, there are key points you can pull out that will resonate with your target audience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Share
Right now, a lot of people are uncertain and a little scared. This is new territory we’re in. Don’t be afraid to share with your audience how this is impacting you. My local bakery shared a social post promoting their curbside delivery and urged people to order so they can stay open through the pandemic. I might not have thought to order cupcakes, but the idea of my favorite bakery going out of business is enough to get me in my car.
Consumers want to support small businesses, they don’t want to see empty storefronts once this is over. Don’t be afraid to let your audience know how they can support you and what you’re doing to keep your business running through this pandemic.
Your core values and brand story should inform every aspect of your business, your marketing, and your communications with your employees, customers, and prospects. This is a foundation of authenticity.
Think about how your business looks across all your online and offline channels, down to your in-store (or in-front-of-store) signage and your employees. All of these aspects are a representation of your business, and how your customers perceive you is important.
Consumers can sniff out whether or not a business is being authentic, and you don’t want them to feel that you’re being insincere.
Show You Care
So many companies have sent a standard email letting consumers know they care about customers and employees and are taking every effort to keep them safe. And that’s kind of it. What I’ve loved seeing is how many companies are taking it a step further, outlining how their employees are still getting paid, talking about community resources for those in need, or sharing how they’re supporting their friends and neighbors during this time.
This is what consumers want to see. They don’t want you to tell them you care, they want you to show them.