The dos and don’ts for brands to follow when communicating during challenging times, highlights Singh
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. Sarbvir Singh, CEO, Policybazaar.com 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
The marketing strategies vary according to the category a brand operates in. However, in times like these, it is pertinent to drive awareness for your products — particularly in a category like ours. For instance, in the ongoing case of health scare in the country, we had to be careful that we do not scare the customer beyond a point. As people were already worried, giving them to direct a message would have actually made them feel alienated.
In a country where less than 5% of the people have term and health insurance, we retorted to driving awareness about the category. We leveraged the mass media television to drive awareness and digital to drive sales as that is where the consumer is.
On the dos and don’ts, brands need to follow when communicating with consumers
In times of stress, the first rule is that brands must not add to the stress. They need to understand the context of the consumer, after all, we are consumers ourselves. One needs to be empathetic and understand what a consumer is going through and act as a support to help them navigate through their problems.
As a brand, we want to be part of their needs and desires and drive those. It’s important therefore to understand that we need to think from the consumers’ perspective and not from the company’s perspective.
A don’t would be– Using anything which would make the consumer feel alienated or in some ways turn them off.
On the periodicity of the conversation
Again, this will differ by category. For a category like insurance, it is very important to remind the customer of the relevance of the products during these times. The frequency will therefore be a little higher than the normal case.
In our case, for instance, the period between April-June is not a big season for insurance. Typically, we would not be very visible in those three months. But when we saw that there was a concern around mortality and disease, we were more active this April-June than we would have been in a normal year. Hence, it depends on the context of the consumer and therefore companies will need to tailor their plans accordingly.
On how to maintain trust with consumers
The challenge to build trust is that you have to walk the talk. With the advent of social media, the whole society is becoming increasingly transparent. Therefore, the premium on being authentic has gone up immensely. In today’s day and age, it has become more important than ever to be both authentic and careful in what you are promising and own up your mistakes (if any) and state how you are working to correct it. Therefore, companies need to draw the line carefully and then follow them.
On communicating with consumers post Covid-19
Covid-19 accelerated all the trends that were there before. For instance, the fact that there was a need for insurance was always there, but it has been accelerated. In a similar manner, the fact that brands need to be authentic and empathetic in their approach was becoming obvious before Corona, but it has been heightened. Purpose, authenticity and empathy are the key factors that are there to stay.
From a consumer perspective, the first thing that happens after any such incident is that consumers become more careful — both in terms of spending their money and investing more time in making a purchase decision. Moreover, consumers will want to deal with brands and services that are reliable, consistent and where they will get value for their money. Hence, brands will need to take these factors into account and be there for their consumers, wherever they are.