How should brands fill the void for connection during a time of crisis?

By Yiscah Yurman, Faastr strategist

Remember April 2020 when you suddenly realize that tomorrow would be nothing like “business as usual”? Remember how nearly everything in the company’s marketing plan, from advertising to creative and media, would need to be rethought?

While the world was busy worrying about health and personal economics alongside the macro effects of this unknown situation – many companies and brands paused their outreach and marketing efforts. Even some major brands turned off their marketing efforts during the pandemic in order not to overstep something “unknown” in the changing zeitgeist. According to the Business Research for Business Owners, “nearly a quarter of brands have gone dark, pausing all of their paid marketing communications for the first and second quarter of the year.” (Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge, April 2020). 

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Now with the year’s end, we have access to more data and results on how brands should (have) acted:

 

Edelman, a global communications firm, conducted a survey of 12,000 consumers in 12 countries (Brazil, South Africa, Italy, France, U.K., Germany, South Korea, Canada, China, U.S., Japan, and India). The findings prove that consumers need interaction, reassuring communication and comforting communications from the brands they follow (Edelman Trust Barometer 2020).

 

The latest McKinsey “The State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update” report revealed that “during a crisis, people crave connection and brands who are absent will lose mindshare.” 

 

So is it possible?! Can we really expect a brand to feed the hunger for connection?

 

I have searched the web for answers and also interviewed our team of strategists at FAASTR to find out. Lilach Sapir, one of our product marketing strategists, feels that since  brands work hard on engagements with their audience, times of crisis should be the same. B2B businesses should make sure that they are not absent as well. However, they may each need to find the new methods and the new shared values to maintain a connection and engagement.

 

Adi Joseph Shmorak, SaaS Product Strategist, elaborated:” In times of need, people huddle together around shared pain points. Brands should segment their audience based on their pain point and drive community initiatives around it.” 

 

Nili Goldberg, who’s building our FAASTR platform and grouping the best marketing strategists out there took our talk a step forward, as all entrepreneurs do. “As a business I’d like to know what to do with these insights”. 

That means if my customers are anywhere from bored to struggling in survival mode, I should create engagements that align my audiences pain points with my brand values. 

 

For example, as a retail fashion marketplace that celebrates its size and variety, I would use my app and gamify wishlists. Every day I’d challenge my audience with an outing or activity they  miss – and compete with other customers over the coolest outfit for that occasion – all curated from my collections. It would help me accumulate more data about what my customers want and love, encourage engagements and keep a positive brand perception in my audiences top of mind.

 

Another hack that can really help retail brands is launching a virtual event for people to clean out their closet or storage areas and give away their unneeded stuff. Imagine a brand that aims for sustainability and resourcefulness leading this initiative. And how relevant while we are all at home. 

As a B2B brand, I would focus on the challenges my product market fit audiences face and share a whole range of alternative solutions – not just connected to my platform. That’s the difference between top of mind engagements and sales. 



Listening to my peers I got my thoughts together too. In my opinion (Yiscah, the author of this blog), we may experience another radical shift in the role brands play now. 

Brands and their audience have a connection that is based on trust. Consumers who are skeptical of any fake news are looking to brands for the truth. I believe brands cannot really replace true personal connection, but they can help overcome scarcity – through truth. Brands can help overcome loneliness by bringing people with the same passion together. Brands can distract and gather people together. They can assist in bridging the physical distance imposed by social distancing by facilitating community, offering empathy, and providing social support through a digital meeting place.. 

Ultimately – brands should find ways to serve society better. For instance, brands can start collaborating with museums and performing arts organizations so they can offer virtual performances, sponsor live music from popular artists on YouTube or Zoom where fans can virtually mingle with celebrities.

 

What do you think?  



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