While these are certainly surreal, unprecedented times, I’d like to look at the silver lining. We have all been given time to reflect on the things we value and hold most dear: our families, our health, our community and our livelihoods. While so many of our neighbors and fellow citizens are worried, anxious and searching for answers, let’s focus on what IS being done.
While we each take stock and ponder our own individual values, now is also a great time for companies and businesses to review, reflect and revise, as necessary.
- How do core values, brand strategy and purpose translate during times of crisis?
- How can you stay focused and remain productive while planning ahead?
- How can you support your consumers, be sensitive and empathetic to the community at large without sacrificing financial stability?
Making Goods and Making Good
For brand leaders and marketers with the physical, tangible means to develop and distribute goods, now is a critical right time to hit the pause on a core product or service offering while pivoting to provide resources, supplies and support where they are needed most. Some of the first examples we saw of this were LVMH and ABInBev halting the production of fragrances, spirits and beer and converting factories and plants to produce much-needed hand sanitizer.
“LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” the company said in a press release.
Across the United States, we see companies like Hanes, 3M, General Motors, Tesla and more coming on board every day, all saying they will step up to make critical medical supplies, PPE and resources for the healthcare community (either ramping-up production or pivoting altogether). Long after this crisis has passed, we will remember the contributions that these brands have made.
Prioritize Your People
All companies with the means to do so MUST support employees and their families. Protecting jobs, covering salaries and maintaining health benefits will ensure that companies are resourced to rebound when we begin to climb back out. Being smart and responsible does require balancing and bracing for any potential financial hits, but planning for both short- and long-term needs accordingly. If you cut and run, people will remember. Now is the time to prioritize people over profits.
This tweet from marketing guru @tedrubin sums it up nicely:
There two primary points for managers and leaders to prioritize at the moment: 1. Be good to the people who keep your company running; and 2. Think about how to talk to, help and support your community.
So Who Is Doing What Well?
Some changes are big while others are more subtle. JetBlue is giving free flights to medical volunteers heading to New York, and the Four Seasons is giving them a place to stay. Ford has pulled all national advertising, instead sending teams out to deliver COVID-19 testing kits and providing vehicles to medical teams in need. Hershey’s, who switched all advertising spots that showed people interacting with one another to simple, beautiful product shots. Their reminder that there is still room for something sweet, fun and delicious in life is an important thing for us all to remember.
Not all businesses have the same opportunities and challenges, and small businesses often have the smallest margin for survival in times of crisis. As we know, many businesses deemed “non-essential” have been forced to close doors. That impacts revenue, which ripples into cost. However, even those businesses are making great effort (often at great expense) to help their employees, customers and communities in any way they can. Again, people will remember any and all efforts to do the right thing.
Then there are companies that are right in the middle of the most important needs for their community. Those businesses that are considered essential services. Grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores must remain open, and the employees are being asked to perform tasks and responsibilities at much higher stakes just to keep consumers safe and healthy. Big shops and markets like Target, Stop&Shop and ShopRite have designated early morning hours specifically for seniors and pregnant women; and limiting the number of toilet paper and paper towel rolls that customers can purchase at a time. National retailers like CVS and Walgreens had to introduce and operationalize new processes like online ordering, touchless (and contact-less) payment, curbside pickup, prescription delivery and the development and production of basic customer educational materials.
After all, brands and consumers need to work together more than ever to stay informed, prepared and equipped to ride this out for as long as necessary. And that’s why we can all appreciate brands like Quilted Northern, while ramping up production, are also sharing critical information like: “The average two-person household staying home 24/7 will go through about 9 Double rolls (or 5 Mega Rolls) in two weeks.”
Core Value = What Do They Value?
No matter where your company or brand falls on each of these spectrums, now might be a great time to think about what you can offer consumers and what your core value really is. The value exchange has shifted, and you must adapt accordingly, and it starts with knowing that your core value goes beyond your product. Integrity and empathy are essential, but uncertainty is more acceptable than ever. Just stay positive while being transparent.
Reprioritize and emphasize the values that matter most, put your staff, customers and community first. Keep the essential parts of your business going, do some good, basic housekeeping and planning now… because whenever the dark clouds do finally blow over, having all elements of your business up and running on all cylinders will be critical for our collective rebound and recovery.
Here at revelation, we are collaborating to contribute to a fund that helps feed healthcare workers pushing tirelessly and selflessly to fight this battle across the country. They are putting themselves at risk to protect and save us. In addition, we are making sure that our partners and clients know that we are here, that we are working and keeping their content, strategies, SEO, design and editorial needs going. We are working to keep your businesses stable and as productive as possible, and we will remain on the ready to help you all get back to business as usual on the other side.