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Posted May 4, 2020

How brands can build trust in uncertain times.

Trust is a crucial emotion in marketing at any time – so given the current climate, it’s more important than ever that brands understand where they have the authority to talk, strike the right tone and take careful steps to earn consumers’ trust in these times of intense uncertainty.

Brands play a vital role in our economy and so their work must continue and they must keep engaging audiences. However, the focus of marketing and content has shifted and there’s now a big responsibility to get it right.

Here, we discuss how, through marketing, brands can build trust in consumers, continue conversation and   engage audiences – in turn, helping to keep the wheels of the economy turning.

The show must go on for marketers
As COVID-19 continues to impact on businesses, owners and marketing managers are having to make difficult decisions that could have a lasting effect on the brand. But as uncertainty prevails, it’s about adapting quickly and doing so as efficiently as possible. A brand’s responsibility remains – they exist to stimulate the economy – and for that reason, it’s more important than ever to remain visible and carry on business as far as is normal. It’s how we go about doing it that matters. Above all else, marketing and content should be meaningful, valuable and authentic. It should more than ever before aid and enhance consumers’ everyday life – there’s simply no place for ill-timed messaging and campaigns that appear exploitative and full of self-interest.

Communication is key
As marketers, we spend our days strategising and analysing – and then providing for – audience’s needs. Just because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, this doesn’t change. In fact, it’s arguably even more important. When marketing through a crisis, keeping in touch with customers and remaining visible in the wider community is vital. At this time, everyone is cautious, erring on the side of safety and limiting any unessential spend. For this reason, every communication from any brand should have a main objective of maximising your audience’s trust in you and fulfilling their belief that you have their best interests in mind. Communicate sensitively and with real meaning and this will help ease their feelings of uncertainty when making online purchases or investing in the business.

Understand audience’s needs
Attention-grabbing stories that would encourage clicks before now may cause alarm in periods of panic. Now is the time to really evaluate what your audience would be grateful and thankful for – what would be valuable to them? ‘Nice-to-have’ marketing and blow-the-budget projects will likely have been paused, as businesses consider campaign spend and budget control. Brands and marketers now have a duty to review audience needs rather than wants at the moment. People are isolated from friends and family, employment concerns are high, most people are coming to terms with new ways of working (if working at all) and exhausted parents are having to juggle home life and home schooling. Create helpful content and campaigns that reach out in this time of need. Consumers need to trust that you’re adding value to their daily life, which has been turned on its head.

Mind your tone
How you market right now is as important as what you’re saying. Human-centric messaging that demonstrates your care for the consumer is what’s needed – get this right and you’ll build consumer loyalty to boot. A brand’s ability to remain wholly sensitive in such hardship, while playing a valuable role in the consumer’s life, will ultimately be what resonates. Brands should step in to offer their voice in areas they have expertise to show solidarity and empathy.

Be agile and flexible
This is a bit of an obvious one as, given the situation, can we really be anything but? However, the most trustworthy brands are adapting quickly, improvising and ensuring they’re there at the drop of a hat should their customers/audience need them. Be ready to change position or direction in an instant as the situation continues to shift at such pace with very little notice or warning. Brands can develop agility with their marketing and make sure they’re boosting morale among audiences, in turn using their skills for the greater good.

With the right marketing, there’s an opportunity here to really make a change, as well as ensure businesses come out of the pandemic stronger. But it all comes down using skills sensitively, at the right time and understanding where to add real value to an unprecedented situation. Use every opportunity to be there for your audience and serve the community. This is how you’ll build and strengthen those bonds of trust – because you’ve earned it in a time when a brand’s actions can have significant impact.

Posted by Carrie Webb

Senior writer. Sleep-deprived mama of one. Obsesses over words far more than is healthy.