We seem to be back in the soup again. Different states and cities are experiencing different levels of restriction. It's exhausting for everyone, and those who came through the first wave of COVID-19 successfully are now looking at renewed restrictions square in the eye. Here are some tips to avoid allowing the ongoing COVID saga from creating long-term damage to your brand story.
How can COVID-19 Damage YOur brand story?
Brands stories get their energy from the people who are telling them- that's not just you, it's customers too. When people get distracted or pushed into an unexpected life or business circumstance, their attention is pulled away from what they were already sharing about. That means your brand story can suffer as a result. COVID-19 has already done that once this year, over an extended period of time, and the renewed concerns can create a repeat of how this impacted businesses earlier this year.
The longer people forget about you, the farther you fall out of their daily routines, inbox and lifestyle, and the greater the threat to the health of your business.
Why should you pay attention to your brand story during COVID Concerns?
Managing your brand story is one of the ways to safeguard against long-term damage to your business. Your brand story is a vital part of your business goodwill, and while accountants view it as an intangible asset, there is nothing intangible about people thinking about your business, sharing about your business, or planning to include you in their lives. When people share about your products or services, wear your swag, or recommend you to their network, they are actively expanding your brand story. If they forget about you because they are so focused on something else, your brand story will suffer.
Many brands are reporting big shifts in customer loyalty this year. That's no surprise as people's attention has simply shifted to what is most important to them right now.
How to Protect Your Brand Story during COVID-19
While you deal with any practical matters that impact your services, staffing or the way you interact with customers (and you probably already have most of that figured out), here are some ways that you can safeguard your brand story.
1. Fight to Stay Relevant
Relevance is what drives brand stories. It simply means that you continue to engage with people in a meaningful way based upon what they are experiencing. Beyond what you need to do to deliver products, services and provide customer service. Find ways to stay relevant by:
- Telling stories that highlight what customers, community heroes and even vendors are doing to respond and help.
- Leading charity or service drives to help with needs in your customer's lives.
- Make your product or service uniquely valuable during any shutdown through delivery, ease of online ordering, or other types of easy access.
- Make your "open" status crystal clear and be specific about any changes that you're making.
- Be compassionate and helpful when dealing with people who may have school children at home, and who are now working from their home "office".
- If you are experiencing a major restriction or shut-down, don't give up, and find a way to stay involved in your customers lives- no matter what.
2. Increase Relational Outreach
A personal touch is never wasted. People want to know that you know their names, their struggles and that you'll do whatever you can to help. Look around your organization for simple ways that you can increase follow-up, reach out to customers personally who you haven't heard from in a while, or use more personalization in your marketing automation.
Ensure that you staff takes an especially compassionate tone during customer service and other interactions. Short fuses that get "lit" produce bad customer experiences. Don't be surprised if buying cycles are disrupted or lengthened. Additional personal outreach may be needed to close sales.
3. Keep Your Language and Staff Revved-up
It's easy to get discouraged or fatigued with the shifting public health sands. People feel the same way- one outcome of the COVID-19 ordeal is simply emotional fatigue. Everyone needs a little humor, a locker room pep-talk, extra appreciation during this time.
- Don't allow your team to give in to fatigue or weariness. As the ancient proverb says, "don't grow weary in well doing, for after while you will reap a harvest."
- Understand the need for a little extra mirth, enjoyment and show appreciation to those who are maintaining their enthusiasm.
- Watch engagement levels in all of your digital marketing and sales. It can shrink and that may require some new strategies or new offers.
- Identify triggers in engagement that can help you build momentum instead of losing it.
- Going out of your way to say "thank you" to staff and customers has a big impact.
You may benefit from adopting a new role as a cheerleader or find someone who can. Teach your team to "smile with their mask on" because encouragement is a powerful force.