By Amanda Long, senior account director at Hughes Agency, a corporate member of Endeavor.
When life-altering events like a global pandemic and economic shutdown hit, many business leaders find themselves figuring out how to adapt the way they serve their customers to meet their new, and ever-changing needs.
And it’s understandable that when people are focused on staying healthy and employed, it’s even harder for brands to reach through and keep them engaged. Getting in front of people who are willing to buy from you takes an over-the-top effort in times like these – but the effort must resonate with consumers, or the brand could come across as tone deaf. That can be a fine line to walk.
1. However you adapt, stay true to who you are.
Your brand’s vision and mission are your guiding light, so when thinking about how to repurpose what you do, keep focused on what you stand for. How you serve that up can change.
Endeavor, downtown Greenville’s coworking community, is known for bringing creative professionals together to help inspire their work with its popular Collaborators & Cocktails professional development and networking event series. When in-person events were no longer possible, Endeavor held its first ever virtual version of the event with two top tier marketers as speakers. This was their highest-attended event in the series’ four-year history.
2. Contribute to the greater good of your community.
When times are tough for everyone, it’s important that people see your brand as a group of humans who genuinely want to help those in need. Brands that found a way to connect with people’s hearts by authentically shifting their efforts to help alleviate a crisis or burden win loyal fans.
When small businesses in Greenville – from restaurants to retail establishments – were suffering through the shutdown, City Councilwoman Dorothy Dowe proposed that the City of Greenville redirect $250,000 of funds allocated for Unity Park construction toward 250 $1,000 grants to help these businesses cover expenses. In addition to garnering media coverage, the City took to the streets to visit many of those recipients and share the check presentations on social media to help bring awareness to the situation and to drive business back to the establishments that make Greenville such a unique community.
3. Good press can keep your employees motivated and proud to be a part of your team.
Don’t forget that your own employees are also your most important customers, and how they feel about your brand resonates with everyone else who interacts with your business.
When the pandemic shut the YMCA of Greenville’s doors and they could no longer serve the community in the same way, their team pivoted and worked tirelessly to coordinate many food and blood drives, organize an emergency childcare program for essential workers, delivered food boxes to some of Greenville’s most vulnerable, and even delivered a virtual Easter Sunrise Service live from Pretty Place. They executed a massive PR initiative to stay in front of members, program participants and donors so they could continue to serve Greenville. The coverage gave the Y’s internal team a sense of pride, knowing that others could see the impact of the work they were doing every day.
One thing this time of crisis taught us all is that if you want to survive, you can’t think or do the same as you did before. Including smart marketing and public relations efforts in your game plan can help set you on a path to not merely survive, but to thrive as you and your customers continue this unprecedented journey together.