Fostering Connections During the Pandemic

Keeping people at the center of the conversation

The COVID-19 crisis will be new territory for even the most battle-tested marketers. It is both humanitarian and economic, and neither the health fears nor the financial ones have a clear end in sight. That said, we have weathered storms before and learned a bit along the way.

1) Large companies can be leaders.

There are few among us who will not need expert help, and everyone is seeking credible, trustworthy information to understand the impacts of the crisis. According to Edelman’s special report on trust and the coronavirus, more and more people are turning to their employers for reliable information and effective preparation.

This presents a unique opportunity for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for large companies with the resources and reputation to lead the charge for their employees. All companies should stay steadfast in their brand’s positioning and credibility, and be prepared with clear talking points and consistent messaging. This will continue to go a long way for internal audiences and have ripple effects for outside consumers, too.

2) Technology and humanity aren’t mutually exclusive.

Social distancing will transform how we communicate, even with those traditionally resistant to adopting newer tech. It’s a catalyst for change. Until this week, many organizations didn’t often use video conferencing. Now we’re using it nonstop.

We miss the face-to-face, but we’re seeing different sides of our coworkers and clients: getting glimpses into their homes, “meeting” their children and dogs, seeing them in their natural habitat. It’s a different kind of personal interaction that you don’t experience in the office or by going out to lunch. Keep using technology to build relationships with the people most important to your business.

3) Empathy will be make or break.

It may sound obvious, but most people are concerned with the health and safety of family and friends and keeping their businesses afloat. Much else — surprisingly, even financial portfolio performance — has become a secondary concern. In the face of a very personal humanitarian crisis, empathy is key.

While businesses work to maintain as much normalcy as possible, it’s important to keep up communication. People still want to be spoken to. But your messaging strategy can’t feel tone-deaf, and marketers should remember that outreach will resonate with different people at different times. This is a long game, requiring a recalibration of your strategy, greater customization of content, and better coaching and tools for your teams.

Sullivan’s strategists are busy fielding research about how marketers can continue to listen and help. Stay healthy, and stay tuned for further insights next week around impacts of the coronavirus in the financial services industry.

This article is part of our ongoing content around marketing during COVID-19. For more ideas, research, and support, visit our Resource Center.