The marketing strategy for brands to remain relevant, reveals Balakrishnan
At a time when everyone is trying to look beyond the pandemic called Covid-19, communication needs to be crafted carefully by brands. From creating awareness to showing empathy – are some of the ways brands can remain relevant. Sooraj Balakrishnan, head-marketing, Acer India, talks about how brands can remain pertinent in the time of Covid-19. (Edited excerpts)
On the marketing strategy brands should follow to remain relevant
Each major crisis brings about a change in behavior and business operations, as marketers we need to make sure that appropriate measures are taken to keep customers engaged and reminded that we are here to take care of their needs. By adapting the right communication and marketing messages across channels, brands can optimize customer engagement and work to retain customers during these unprecedented times. Here is a new game plan a brand can use to guide current and post-marketing and loyalty strategies.
The key to ride the crisis wave is by being nimble and useful, hence rethinking one’s marketing strategy is critical. As a community partner, it’s our responsibility to apprise consumers of the actions we’re taking to ensure their safety and well-being and to show continued commitment to them, it is a time for the brand to be with them through the tough times. The most important thing is to be honest and not opportunistic.
A lot of my focus is on driving greater consumer intimacy to predict changes in consumer landscape in the upcoming months. Intending to thrive in the new normal and to reorient, some of the questions that we have framed for ourselves are: 1) How can Acer be the trusted technology preparing partner in uncertain times, 2) How to Invest and build to maintain momentum, 3) How to Leverage the power of loyal users and generate new fans and users as new use cases evolve and priorities which leads brand exploration.
Reorient in The New Normal
I would encourage to adjust communication and marketing practices to hold consumer interest and maintain a strong brand voice. Marketing plays a critical role in business transformation during these times and acts as the voice of the company for customers, partners, and other stakeholders to quickly and effectively reorient them in the new normal.
On the dos and don’ts brands need to follow when communicating with consumers during crises
Brands across all segments, be it a personal brand or business brand, we all have to think about how we need to communicate during a time of crisis. Marketing during this period will need a lot of innovation and skill to ensure that the message of the brand is communicated efficiently and effectively without hurting any sentiments.
Do: Communicate wisely and be empathetic. In this pandemic, it is crucial to communicate carefully and avoid adding fear. Consumers are already in anxiety. Brands should focus on content that gives hope, help and positivity.
Don’t: Use humor in messaging. Humor works for brands under ordinary circumstances, but it is not prudent during this crisis. Using humor or overdoing it will hurt the brand.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 isn’t a trending hashtag that brands can attach themselves to. This isn’t a chance to pitch a new campaign. This isn’t the time for “going viral” mocks. This is a serious crisis affecting many people and brands should avoid using the pandemic as a platform to market the brand products.
On the periodicity of the conversation
It is important to maintain the continued prominence of your brands among consumers and other stakeholders. Also, people look up to the leaders and brands for assistance, reassurance, and information. Brands play a significant role in shaping the choices people make. During these uncertain times, one thing is sure: brands have an opportunity to lead by example by informing, connecting and helping.
On how to maintain trust with consumers
An effective branding strategy can certainly impact your business’s results both in and out of a crisis. However, if your multi-location business can showcase now that you are here to help your consumers, rather than sell to them, you are on the right path to creating a trusted brand. Your consumers want to know that you are there for them and are more than just a corporation. If consumers feel that they can trust your brand and rely on you during difficult times, they will be more likely to remember your brand and ultimately make a purchase when the time comes.
On looking after employees as they are also representatives of the brand
It is important for companies to provide an environment that fosters relationships, embraces technology to encourage collaboration, and ensures all innovations reflect a company’s values. For this, maintaining good communication with employees is the first and most important thing. Allowing employees flexible working time to focus on their personal life, enhanced health care packages including easy access to doctors, regular interaction with top management for assurance, training and up-skilling etc helps them to feel valued and make them feel part of the family during this time. This will motivate employees and strengthen their commitment towards the organisation.
On communicating with consumers post Covid-19
The pandemic has changed the expectations audiences have from brands. Brands need to listen to the stakeholders with empathy to make them feel they are an integral part of the decision-making process. This requires organisations to present a more human face in building a level of trust with their consumers and is an opportunity to create a relationship with the consumers that extends beyond a sales channel.
Also, the pandemic will forever transform our lives and the way we receive information. The scenario recalls Darwin’s Origin of Species theory. The companies that survive in the next phase will not necessarily be the largest or the wealthiest, but rather the ones that manage to best adapt to the change.