The worst crisis in a century has led to unprecedented levels of unemployment and disruption around the world. Many companies have been forced to lay off staff, others are limping along as best they can hoping for a fast recovery.
Whatever line of business you’re in though, the one thing you can’t do is ignore the global pandemic. Yet you also don’t want to overkill on how much you let the pandemic spill into your brand.
Providing value during COVID-19 will greatly affect how your stakeholders see you and the actions that you take will have lasting impressions long after the virus fades.
Unemployment in the U.S. is currently nearing 20%. The European Union is predicting a recession of “historic proportions” this year, and the Chinese economy is still floundering after being the first to be majorly impacted by the crisis.
Many countries now appear to have the novel coronavirus under control and are easing lockdown restrictions. But this crisis is far from over.
From their health to economic and social issues, your audience is certain to have been affected in one way or another no matter where they’re based.
While you don’t want to be seen to be taking advantage of the crisis to promote your agenda, there are certain ways of providing value during COVID-19 that will be well-received.
The key is to show that you recognize the problem, that you care about your customers, and that you show solidarity and commitment to overcome these tough times together. With that in mind, here are three meaningful ways of providing value during COVID-19.
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Many of the giant online companies were quick to see the value in providing free content for people throughout this time.
Amazon almost immediately granted free access to hundreds of e-books as well as an extended list of free services to help customers get through their days during the lockdown.
While schools are closed, Audible Stories https://t.co/8gBHrLW8w9 will be open to help keep young minds engaged. Anyone, in any country, can enjoy unlimited streaming of hundreds of titles for kids and families for free with selections available in six languages.
— Kindle (@AmazonKindle) March 23, 2020
Not only is this a great way of showing people that they care, but it also gives them the chance to awaken interest in potential new customers when the crisis is over.
Some of its services such as unlimited music, for example, are currently free for a 90-day trial, giving a clever way to onboard customers when they’re back at work.
The media, too, has seen the value in these limited-time offers with many paywall publications like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg making COVID-related content free for everyone to view.
You can take a leaf out of their book by providing on-point content as well. Many people currently have more time on their hands than ever before.
Now is a great time to give them relevant educational content that they can take advantage of to develop new skills.
The blockchain industry is one of the few that seems to actually be thriving despite the COVID crisis. While many traditional companies are on a hiring freeze or furloughing employees, cryptocurrency and blockchain firms are actively hiring.
This is a clear opportunity for a misunderstood industry to reach a new public that’s ready to listen. And many companies in the space are busy putting out educational content about blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
Leading exchange OKEx, for example, has created a “Beacon Program”, especially for the particularly hard-hit European region.
#OKExBeacon: Deadline extended! If you're interested in learning more about #crypto & develop a career in the industry, make sure you apply by June 11: https://t.co/8itiMjy6MQ pic.twitter.com/eVYGHbDV24
— OKEx (@OKEx) June 4, 2020
This is a masterclass and mentorship series given by experts in the space with free guidance from the company’s top executives.
The program is meant to allow people who have been affected by unemployment or are interested in changing careers the chance to get a foot in the door at one of the largest players in the field.
It also creates a positive association with the brand for taking action during this time.
While trying to connect with a wider audience, don’t forget about the needs of your existing client base. Many of them have different requirements than they did a few months ago.
Also, don’t forget that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be as much as five times more than that of retaining an existing one.
If your business is not in a position to spend a large budget attracting new clients, customer retention is a sensible strategy for you.
If you have a physical premise that has been forced to close, make sure that you keep your brand at the top of your customers’ minds.
Send out messages showing that you care–and making sure they know you’ll be around when you can open up again.
Here, too, a good way of providing value at this time could be through education or providing your customers with something actionable that they can do while they’re stuck at home.
If you’re in the cosmetics industry, for example, share tips on how to keep their skin and nails healthy at this time.
If you’re in fashion, show them how to maximize their wardrobe or give them a fun activity to do, such as “dress-up Fridays.” This way, they can share the content with their friends on social media while interacting with your brand.
Cheers to our “new normal” Friday night plans aka giving yourself an at-home facial!
✨ #KiehlsTip: brighten skin with our Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask first, then put on your fav earrings and hair accessories for an epic #Selfie moment! pic.twitter.com/ksYYC2VwlC
— Kiehl's Since 1851 (@Kiehls) May 8, 2020
You can also take this time to let them know how your products or services will be changing once you’re able to reopen or what policies will be in place to make them feel safer in the store.
The key here is all about balance. Your weary consumers don’t want to read another email of doom and gloom over COVID-19. Yet, they don’t want the problem ignored either.
Offering practical solutions, tips, tricks, educational content, and activities they can share with their friends will help retain their loyalty.
The stark fact remains that many businesses will never be able to operate in the way they once did pre-COVID-19. So now may be the time to think of ways that you can adapt your products or services for providing value for your consumers at this time.
Let’s say, for example, you run a Pilates studio or a gym, think about giving classes online during this time. The online trend is one that will certainly continue long well into the future as social distancing remains top of people’s minds.
It’s not only small businesses that have had to seriously pivot throughout this time. Mercedes F1 turned its stagnant production plant into a flurry of activity producing thousands of breathing aids to act as ventilators in the UK.
Many clothing brands have dedicated to making facemasks and coverings instead and French vineyards have started converting unsold stocks of wine into hand sanitizer and other such products.
A breathing aid that can help keep #COVID19 patients out of intensive care, adapted by mechanical engineers at @UCL and clinicians at @UCLH working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, has been approved for use in the @NHSuk 👇
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 30, 2020
This crisis won’t last forever, but if your business doesn’t get inventive at this time, it might not do either.
Learning to adapt will not only help you find new ways to keep customer attention and generate income at this time but you’ll be providing value and staying in your customers’ minds.
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