Marketing With Empathy Through the Crisis
The crisis calls for empathic marketing
Our world is being turned upside down. We know at some point that we’ll be able to put this in our rear view mirror, but none of us have any real sense of when this will happen. In the meantime, we’re a global population living through self-isolation and lack of human contact, and facing the certainty of a global recession (if not a global depression). To paraphrase Governor Andrew Cuomo in one of his recent press conferences, someone’s taken our snow globe and shaken it, and everything’s upside down and sideways. One critical step for marketing teams to consider is marketing with empathy.
Marketing with empathy
In the midst of these significant challenges, life must go on, and business must go on. However, the way we build connections with our customers, who we desperately need to remain at our side, needs to change. We need to rethink and redirect where we can. One important step is to ensure we deliver marketing with empathy.
Empathy means putting yourself in another’s shoes and truly identifying with their situation. Seeing and experiencing the world from a perspective different from your own. And given that this perspective is one of facing challenges unlike those many of us have ever experienced before, everything about how we approach our marketing should now be on the table. It needs to be evaluated, based on seeing through the “panic”, to understand the root causes of what’s driving people’s behavior today and importantly, post-crisis.
With every challenge comes opportunities. And it’s not too early to start brainstorming on the opportunities ahead. Those who act quickly should be rewarded with a stronger (more relevant) brand and business position in the future. As the poet Maya Angelou said, “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” Our advice: Be courageous.
Multiple dimensions of marketing with empathy
Here’s a three-point strategy for putting in place what’s needed to succeed in the coming months ahead.
Move higher up the value ladder
Customer priorities prior to the beginning of March are quickly in the midst of changing. While it might be difficult to pin down exactly what your customers truly value, now is the time for marketing teams to reinsert themselves into their customer’s stories. Trying to understand the reasons for their underlying behaviors and choices – beyond the panic – and digging deep to brainstorm how to devise new ways to deliver more value.
These dimensions of value include functional (e.g. saving time, simplifying, informing), emotional (e.g. reducing anxiety, wellness, providing access) and life-changing (e.g. providing hope, affiliation/belonging, motivation). Given the sense of urgency, now is the time to figure out how to deliver more relevant elements of value to help make customer’s lives better and to create the deep-rooted, emotional connections that can be forged to create stronger and enduring bonds.
Review your existing creative strategy and creative
In light of today’s circumstances, consider whether your current creative is still relevant today. Is your big energizing idea the right idea given how our lives and priorities are changing, and as we look down the road to an economic recession? If not, it’s time to consider making changes. You can always develop new creative concepts, consider from a pre-production standpoint how you’ll bring them to life and then make the decision to execute in the coming weeks or months. But at least you’ll be ready to act. If you do determine that your message is right, you should then consider if your media mix is optimized for a population who is sheltering in place. Given the environment, if you’re inclined to make changes, media outlets are apt to be more flexible with their arrangement terms.
In this environment, agility is key. Rather than just worry about the situation, it’s far more effective to have a contingency advertising plan in place to enable fast, already considered decisions.
Reduce friction wherever possible
Friction is a potential sticking point for customers, patients and caregivers in their journey through your funnel. It’s defined as cumbersome, inconvenient steps and delays, which cause them to become frustrated and potentially abandon the path to their desired result and your brand. It’s important to know that friction can happen at all stages of the journey, both offline and online.
Even in the best of times, customers have the mindset of “my time, my money, my decision.” They have a lot of choices about what to buy and who to work with. In the midst of this crisis, and people’s lives being upended, they’ll gravitate to the brands that give them the easiest experience possible. Your goal should be to meet customer goals beyond what others can do across every touchpoint – making their lives just a bit simpler and easier in the midst of times that are anything but this.
Some of the typical and more easily addressable friction points include websites or content that aren’t optimized for mobile, ads that lead to poor landing page experiences, customer live chat functions that go unanswered, customer service calls that keep people on hold for unduly lengths of time, to name just a few. The more steps consumers have to take, the more opportunities there are for friction.
Beyond the above concrete steps, there are a few fundamental traits and behaviors that demonstrate empathy and can lead to building stronger emotional connection, confidence and trust:
- Reliable: Staying focused on fulfilling brand promises and commitments
- Helpful: Creating and sharing useful information and insights, and offering support and guidance through content, social posts (e.g. Facebook/Instagram Stories), webinars, communities, etc.
- Generous: Spotlighting positive and uplifting true stories, and celebrating the good work of others
- Leading: With every challenge comes opportunities to help better customer’s lives. Now’s the time to start brainstorming on the opportunities ahead.
Today, we need to be viewing empathy through a different and wider lens. And here’s to the empathy we truly need to feel to each other not going away once the dust settles.
Trajectory typically partners with clients to help their brands rise above the noise. But nothing about today is typical. If we can assist you in any way, please reach out.