The outbreak of the coronavirus has forced marketing departments the world over to rethink their entire marketing and advertising strategies with many opting to drastically cut ad spending. Many employees now find themselves working from home for longer than they anticipated, as experts try to chart the course of the virus. But what external communications are you providing your customers as they grapple with the new temporary reality of a pandemic?
If you haven’t sent out an official statement from your business, take a look at our last post, which details the importance of communicating with your customers during times of crisis. Below, we’ve drafted a list of creative ideas for how you can stay in front of your customers, even when you can’t physically be in front of them. And as always, if you need a partner to help you execute any of these ideas via a successful, integrated marketing strategy, let us know here.
1. Reassure your customers the business is up and running. The form of this outreach can vary, anything from a press release or an email to a video from your company’s leadership. But the overall message should be the same: You’re there for them if they need anything. Give a nod to the suppliers delivering materials to your facilities, or describe how your supply chain is enabling you to continue helping your customers. Knowing you will have uninterrupted access to the supplies you need to run your business lets your customers know they can expect the same for theirs.
2. Create a blog post, video or graphic highlighting the safety measures your company is taking to continue delivering quality products to your customers. As a food ingredient company, it’s important to emphasize that safety is a priority each and every day – and especially during a pandemic. But don’t just list off your credentials – tell your customers a story about your food safety policies, and how each step, from receipt of supply to production, labeling and shipping, helps ensure the highest possible quality and safety of your products. Resources like videos, graphics and blogs make for excellent social media content, so be sure to share it on your social channels and post them on your website for maximum visibility.
3. Remind your customers how best to store your products. Some of your customers may not be used to storing your products for longer periods of time, with many having moved to a just-in-time inventory management strategy. Explain how they can safely store these items by providing them with the ideal temperature, lighting or other storage conditions that will allow them to minimize complications now, and when their production schedule returns to normal.
4. Meet up with clients – virtually. If you’re used to regular, in-person meetings with your customers, you might be struggling to stay in touch now that many people are confined to their homes. But it’s not all bad – sometimes the distance can provide you with some much-needed time to create new application ideas or marketing strategies. In addition, virtual meetings can be a great way to talk through these ideas, maintain a positive connection and ensure your customers still feel like you’re making them a priority. Invite them to chat over a virtual coffee, or if you can, order them a coffee via a food delivery service.
5. Create a webinar or podcast. You’ll want to warm up your vocal cords for this one. Use this time to explore those creative communication methods your company doesn’t normally have time for. Interview an expert in the industry, discuss current topics or provide insights to your customers and target audience. Podcasts are a great format for answering some of the most frequent questions you’re receiving from customers during these challenging times. With that being said, don’t feel like you need to create an hours-long podcast or webinar – keep it interesting and on topic. Your customers may have more time to listen to your content, but the material should still be engaging enough that they’ll want to.
6. Send a message of support for those working in restaurants or public-facing foodservice. Restaurants have lost nearly $25 billion in sales and nearly 3 million jobs as a result of the pandemic. It’s vital that these businesses continue to receive our support during this time, so consider sending a message reminding those customers that you’re there for them should they need any assistance, something along the lines of: We’re all in this together.
7. Host an online Q&A session. Your customers may have questions about how your operations have been impacted by the coronavirus or may want information about potential supply interruptions. A virtual Q&A is a great way to get firsthand information about the concerns and challenges your customers are facing, while letting them know you’re still keeping them in mind.
8. Consider targeted messaging to specific people at your customers companies. Let the R&D teams at your customers businesses know how you’re able to support them during this time. Do they need samples shipped to their homes or a location other than their labs? Do they want additional data about your products? Let them know what resources you can provide and if you are able to expedite samples to them should they need it.
Remember, any communication you provide to your customers is better than no response. Empathy and compassion are key. Let your customers know you’re keeping them top of mind, and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. After all, some of them may be dealing with health or financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus.
Finally, remember that honesty and clarity are important in challenging times. Be honest about how the pandemic has affected your business and clear about what steps you have taken (or will take). This will provide your customers with the reassurance they need, and let them know they can depend on you now, and in calmer times as well.
We’ve given you some communication ideas to use with your customers, but we want to hear from you! What strategies are working for your brand? Which ones aren’t? Leave us a comment below.