Marketers need an empathetic playbook, not necessarily a ‘buy-now’ call to action
By Anjali Malhotra
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis due to Covid-19 and the situation is evolving every minute. Marketers need to refine their marketing strategies to strengthen connections, be emphatic, enhance customer support, and experiment with digital adoption in order to stay relevant.
This new approach is also important because in the post-Covid-19 world, consumers will remember brands for their empathy, how they created happy memories, and were ‘there’ to support them. Consumers would like to see a brand being more considerate with purpose- driven actions and human-centric messages. The momentum of digital adoption among consumers is unlikely to reverse, and marketers should strategise using multiple channels to match consumer expectations in the new environment.
Marketers have been hardwired to analyse every measurable (read: business) metrics. This often results in a hard-sell approach. At present, when people feel vulnerable, empathy and commitment are two ways that will bind them to a brand through trust. Social distancing is not emotional distancing. People are reacting and absorbing positive and inspiring content that calls for acknowledging the social, financial and other realities of this pandemic. Marketers need an empathetic playbook, not necessarily a ‘buy-now’ call to action. Messages conveyed to customers today have to be stronger, humane and must include health, empathy, courage and humility to be reassuring and more relevant than before.
Projects where the public, private and social sectors engage in different ways, working towards common societal objectives will be the new marketing mantra. This is the time of collective action; who would have imagined that railways or taxi services would be collaborating with e-commerce companies! Effective and engaging inter-sectoral campaigns and initiatives help in reaching wider audiences and cater to their demands. It is enchanting for the audience to see different brands collaborating to serve the country and citizens in tough times.
Brands across industries are creating content on social media to gain consumers’ attention and convey their messages in a quirky way. Rather than assuming that collaboration will take time, CEOs are actively taking decisions and making things happen. Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly, and influence depends on what we do and how we think, right now.
Experience over products
Consumers are inclined towards a society where the largest retail store doesn’t own any items, the biggest transportation service doesn’t own any vehicles, or the most popular hotel chain doesn’t own any hotels. For decades, marketers were focussed on revolving their ads and campaigns around their products, branding and hard-core sales in innovative ways. People are now less driven by material things, and are instead investing their time and money in experiences that are meaningful to them. In order for businesses to stay current in this experience-driven economy, they must give their consumer not only a memorable experience, but something they feel inspired to share with friends, family and community. Brands need to prioritise in providing enhanced experiences over products as consumers would contemplate a subtler form of marketing when it comes to product placements.
Building a brand’s reputation is both simpler and more complicated in our mobile-first era, than it was a decade ago. There has been an increase in misinformation, fake news, and instances of brand advertising appearing next to unsavoury content on coronavirus across platforms since the outbreak. At this point, marketers should take a step back and think about company vision, mission and brand principles. Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging will go a long way in enhancing the brand. Marketers need to rededicate themselves to the basics of marketing which is customer centricity.
The author is chief customer, marketing, digital and IT officer, Aviva India