So much has changed in the last week that it can be hard to stand still and focus on anything. First up, it’s important to remember that who you are, and what you’re really good at, hasn’t changed. It still has value even if you may need to apply it differently to help your customers in the short term.
It’s also good to remember that whilst you might not be focusing on your long-term brand strategy right this minute, how you deal with people today will impact how they perceive your brand in years to come.
I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago I was actually away in the USA on the day that President Trump announced he was ceasing all European travel. Like many travellers I worried I’d get stuck abroad and so looked into the costs of trying to get home more quickly. Amid this frenzy of price hikes and cancellation fees, I received one email from Marriott hotels that impressed me both as a brand marketer as well as a human being. In summary it said that they recognised that their core values were to help customers and so they were making it easier for people to cancel without penalty at short notice. I cannot tell you how much this stood out in a sea of emails and messages that seemed to be putting profit above my stress levels. I will not forget that next time I travel. Even if I’m not planning to travel today.
It’s hard for us all right now – we are all worried about how we’re going to make a living. I’m self-employed and I have the same worries. But helping people never goes out of fashion.
Here are a few tips I’d give you right now:
- Ask your customers what help they need right now. If your project has been de-prioritised then try to respect that and offer to help and support what they do need to do.
- Think about your payment and cancellation terms. We all need to earn a living and as a small business I know how important cashflow is. But if you can spread payment terms you might just help yourself AND your customers to keep going. This is a team-game situation.
- Don’t rush to change your long-term brand position. Think instead about how you can package up your services to offer them remotely or use your skills differently and adapt your messaging to focus on that. I was just about to launch in-person workshops! I’m now moving them online and to do that I’ve changed the scope so people will get more individual attention.
- Consider whether you can create forums for your customers and your employees. Give them ways to stay connected with each other and help each other. If they’re in the same line of business then they are probably best placed to help each other and if you facilitate that you’re adding value. For employees just provide somewhere they can connect and not talk about work – or coronavirus!
Go back to your core values and what they mean to you. Don’t lose sight of what makes you good to do business with.
People need that more than ever right now, so stay in tune.