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Marketing in a Post-COVID World

How to build trust with customers in uncertain times

The Coronavirus crisis has flung the world into an extraordinary global recession & most major economic sectors are seeing a decline in revenue. For the healthcare industry, although positive sentiment is high, the financial impact of suspending elective surgeries, as well as the closure of dental & optical services, has caused some systems to lose up to 33% of their revenues. According to Black Box Intelligence, restaurants have experienced one of the sharpest declines ever with same-store sales declining overall by 67%, & up to 80% in dine-in categories. Retailers have experienced a sudden halt of foot traffic to malls & brick & mortars which has accelerated the growth of e-commerce & forced many new consumers who were slow to adopt to adjust. Research suggests that it is likely they will stick with this change.

“Safety protocols & healthy habits are the building blocks needed to find a way forward.”

This overview may seem grim, but we know there is hope. If we look at an array of predictions & projections of what recovery could be, we see that safety protocols & healthy habits are going to be the complementary building blocks needed to find a way forward. It’s evident that the messaging brands put out now is crucial for developing a positive sentiment with the consumer for the recovery phase of the crisis.

Consider this contrasting research from Destination Analysis & Business Insider. When asked “What are the first things you are going to do when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted?”, the top five responses according to Destination Analysis are as follows: dine out with friends (40.9%), hang out with friends (39.6%), grooming services (37.2%), shopping (35.6%), & go on a trip (22.5%). Alternatively, Business Insider found that 41% of consumers will not feel comfortable going to a mall for at least 3 months, & 24% for at least six months; 38% would not feel comfortable going to a restaurant for at least 3 months & 20% for at least six months.

The messaging brands put out now is crucial for developing a positive sentiment.”

It is totally possible that both are true because consumers are experiencing hope & fear at the same time. It can also mean that official guidelines will steer people in the choices they make regarding which shops, hospitals & healthcare networks, restaurants & services they will return to.  Here are three areas of focus for developing trust with consumers in the next phase:

Revisit your Brand Values

  • People want to know what your values are & how you are living up to them.
  • Lean into what has made you successful & the core value you bring to your customers
  • Explain what your values mean now in this new environment
  • & remember your employees are equally your customers

Remodel your Business

  • Show & tell customers how you are adapting to the new environment.
  • Overinvest in communication, in training & in visible signage so customers feel & see the changes you have put in place 
  • Be agile & rapid in trying new approaches – this recovery does not have a set endpoint & new efficiencies & competitive advantages can be discovered 
  • Ask for feedback from customers so they feel invested in the solutions 
  • Healthcare organizations should revisit messaging for their elective procedures 

Invest in your recovery

  • Customers are more willing to be won over, so this is a time to be bold
  • Media companies are trying to recover too, & deals can be negotiated 
  • Try reaching new customers who have not been your traditional target audience 
  • Be creative & different in what you can offer versus your competition 
  • Healthcare organizations should invest in communications about new service lines & alternative access points 

Customers are more willing to be won over, so this is a time to be bold.

Consumers will decide what brands they trust, & they have already started to make their judgments. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer conducted in March & April this year, 44% of U.S. respondents said that brands must do everything in their power to protect their workers & vendors in order to keep or earn their trust as customers. & 61% said that how well a brand responds to the crisis will impact their likelihood to buy that brand in the future.  

The results of our deep dive indicate that brands across all industries will have to significantly adapt how they communicate in order to win consumer trust moving forward. Brands that embody safety protocols & healthy habits in their marketing strategies & materials will find success. Contact us to see more insights about your industry.