During a crisis, brands need to pivot quickly and ensure that they’re properly investing in their customer relationships. We hosted a conversation with Raare Solutions’ CEO & Founder Esther Poulsen and COO Rehka Gibbons on how brands can build strong ties with customers now, provide positive customer experiences, and position their marketing coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. (FYI: Rehka’s title usually stands for Chief Operating Officer, but to highlight the importance of inspiration marketing, Rehka’s the Chief Optimism Officer now. And we’re so here for it.)
In addition to covering the importance of building strong customer relationships now and post-COVID-19, Esther, Rehka, and DialogTech’s VP of Marketing Dave McAnally discussed the new hobbies they’re picking up (or trying to pick up!) in quarantine. Dave’s desire to learn how to play the bagpipes were unfortunately thwarted by his family’s requests for peace and quiet. However, Esther’s cocktail mixology skills and Rehka’s online fitness classes are going swimmingly.
Get all the knowledge on strengthening customer experiences — and even more details around Dave’s attempts to play the bagpipe — in this on-demand webinar. For the biggest takeaways from the conversation, read on.
The Importance of Broad-Spectrum Messaging and Positivity
Let’s face it. Every brand has put out their share of “In this difficult time…” content — and the message is heard loud and clear by consumers. That’s why it’s important to look ahead. For Esther, the brands that are clearly communicating how they’re supporting their employees, customers, and community right now — and how they’re planning on being there for these people in the future — are the ones that will be successful.
This broad-spectrum messaging around how your business is supportive during the COVID-19 crisis shouldn’t have an expiration date. Instead, this messaging should be constantly evolving to suit the current moment.
Your broad-spectrum messaging doesn’t have to always be around “this difficult time” — you can still communicate authenticity with positivity. Rehka emphasized the importance of engaging with customers and bringing value by way of inspirational marketing. These inspirational messaging initiatives promote connectedness between your brand and your audience. According to consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow (and brought to our attention by Rehka on this webinar!), “businesses who recognize that connectedness is a human imperative and adapt accordingly will strike a more resonant chord with consumers.”
Now Isn’t the Time for Hard Selling — Focus On Experience Instead
The hard-sell approach is outdated. According to Esther, customers will spend money on the brands that pay attention to them and demonstrate a clear commitment to building a seamless customer experience.
When you take the time to understand your audience’s demographics, psychographics, and behaviors, you can identify the best ways to message to your customers and improve their experience with you. This is always relevant advice, but it’s especially pertinent during a crisis. If you provide the right messaging and the best experience — even if customers aren’t ready to buy right now — then your business will continue to be relevant and memorable.
Esther recommended taking a step back and understanding why the products or services you offer are relevant to your customers right now. You should always frame what you’re selling within the context of how you will help your customers succeed. For instance, if you’re a B2B IT services provider, your services will help businesses’ remote employees work more productively at home. Whenever you put your products and services in the context of the moment and how it serves your customers, this makes your marketing more authentic and less salesy.
Keep in mind that for now, most brands have put a pause on “buy now” messaging — but once the landscape shifts and businesses open up, there will be a floodgate of advertising encouraging consumers to make purchases. You don’t want your brand to just be another part of this stampede. If you nurture your customer relationships now and communicate that they still matter to you even if they’re not actively buying, you’re building a loyal customer base.
Then, when they’re ready to spend again, you’re viewed as a brand that already has an existing relationship with them and knows who they are and what they need.
Why Leveraging Your Own Data Helps You Craft Customer Experience
In this conversation, customer experience is the name of the game. From getting the right marketing messaging to ensuring your agents are following scripts on calls to making sure every customer interaction and touchpoint feels personal and genuine,
To help achieve this level of experience, you can turn to your first-party data. Rehka advised brands to tap into data from platforms like Google Analytics and Google Ads to understand your customers’ demographics, what devices they’re engaging with you on, and what channels are performing well.
Dave also emphasized the importance of paying attention to buying signals from customers in your first-party data. After all, this is your version of a focus group. While you can look to macro trends for information on when certain businesses are allowed to reopen or when shelter-in-place orders are lifted to see if the timing is right to shift your strategy, there’s so much value in looking to your own data. After all, your customers are giving you sentiment and purchase intent signals all the time — they’re your very own focus group.
For example, Dave recommended looking at data in Google Analytics on users’ click paths, engagement metrics, and form fills. Also, you can leverage a call analytics platform to dig into insights from phone calls to learn caller intent, what keywords and phrases they’re using in conversations, conversion outcome, location performance, and more. This first-party data from the very voice of the customer is crucial to getting visibility into your own audience’s sentiment and behavior and helps you inform your marketing strategy.
And Remember: Now Is a Time to Look Forward
Esther was supposed to go on a vacation to the Grand Cayman this spring. While she can’t take her trip, the resort she booked has been actively engaging her with relevant, positive content on how the resort is supporting its employees and the surrounding community during the crisis. While Esther had to cancel her trip, the fact that the brand is staying in touch via positive, authentic marketing makes her excited to rebook in the future.
This is a lesson that all brands should heed. According to Esther, “people want to look forward. By giving people virtual experiences now, you help people plan for the future.”
For Rehka, this moment is also a time to remember that crisis spawn innovation.
A big thanks to Raare Solutions for sharing such positive, helpful advice and reminding us to always look forward. You can watch the full-length conversation with Esther, Rehka, and Dave on building strong customer relationships now and post-COVID-19 in this on-demand video.
For more wisdom from leading marketers on how to adapt for the COVID-19 crisis, explore our full Mission-Critical Marketing on-demand series. Featuring experts from Yext, Reputation.com, and Resolution, you’ll learn best practices on how to pivot your brand messaging, search marketing, and media strategy for current events.Check It Out