COVID-19 and Messaging Optimization: Our Picks for Who’s Getting it Right
The past few weeks — make that months
– have forced B2Bs, B2Cs and everyone else to become extremely flexible to stay afloat. That included scrapping, retooling or starting new with their messaging.
Some have done great. Others, we’ve barely heard from. So as some states and places begin to reopen, who are the all-stars so far in terms of strategy, messaging and messaging optimization? Here are a few top contenders from our team, as well as the takeaways applicable to other B2Bs and B2Cs.
Web Chat Audio: Customer Connections
To say that I go through a metric ton of dog food every month is a big-dog-sized understatement.
Chewy.com delivers 100 pounds to me every two weeks. Their deliveries have been like clockwork, the dogs have stayed healthy … and then came the ‘rona.
Specialty food was back-ordered and hoarded and shipments were delayed due to travel restrictions. I know dog food seems like a small thing in a crisis, but my past vet bills and the near-death experience of one of my four companions paint a different picture. I was genuinely concerned and not sure what I was going to do long-term. But Chewy.com had a plan.
Instead of missing shipments, Chewy.com sent regular emails informing me of shipping and production schedules accompanied by reminders and suggestions on how to adjust my subscription to accommodate the delays. I took note and did as instructed and completely bypassed the potential issue. We did not run out of food and the pups are all happy and healthy. Chewy.com’s communications, sensitivity to customer needs, ability to adjust to market issues, and follow-through on promised service is a stellar example of crisis marketing at its best. – Kevin O’Neill, vice president for digital media and web solutions
Key Takeaway: Chewy.com optimized its messaging to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances and reassure individual customers about their specific concerns.
VF makes many very recognizable brands, such as Vans, Dickies and The North Face.
In response to this crisis ,VF has donated cash for testing equipment, medical supplies, food and social services. Donations of product to frontline workers have been made, as well.
Additionally, VF has pivoted to manufacturing PPE products, such as face masks out of Vans canvas, surgical masks and gowns. These are great contributions, and maybe even a little expected from such a large manufacturing concern.
They’ve gone even further with commitments to pay manufacturers for all existing purchase orders and have donated dollars to help keep local stores from closing (like skate shops that sell Vans). I admire their commitment to more than business, but to people. It’s my personal philosophy that people are your most important asset, whether employees or customers, and they should always come first. VF seems to have a very similar philosophy. – Ginger Gallagher, Vela’s president
Key Takeaway: The willingness and ability to pivot can secure the very livelihood of an organization; so does a commitment to following the golden rule.
NASCAR and the NBA (esports)
I’ve been pretty fascinated by how professional sports have adapted during this time and have shifted gears
(NASCAR pun intended) to esports … something that I honestly never considered would take off like it did.
Esports are no longer something that only junior-high kids are dabbling in with their friends. Kevin Durant and other NBA all-stars have played in a full-blown televised NBA2K tournament. Close to 400,000 people watched Durant play a video game (which he lost). Following this trend, companies such as BMW have drifted (again, very much intended) to marketing to esports. And I’m not exaggerating.
“In the long term, esports will be our biggest footprint,” says Stefan Ponikva, vice president, brand experience for BMW Group. He adds that esports will eventually eclipse spending on sports, such as motorsports and golf. “The younger generation, being born digital-first, doesn’t really care about TV or traditional advertising. Esports is our tool to reach them.”
Here’s why BMW and other companies have impressed me: Video game competitions reach a global audience of 454 million, with at least 190 million more expected to be watching in three years, per industry analysts Newzoo. The vast majority of them are millennial-aged and younger and favor streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Mixer over traditional television, making esports an attractive target for the 104-year-old automaker to use to buttress its $29.8 billion brand. – Carly Lawson, senior creative designer
Key Takeaway: The future is coming. COVID-19 may be giving you the opportunity to gain an advantage as an early adopter.
Adobe took a progressive approach to its messaging and outreach from the onset of the pandemic in the United States.
The company was one of the first tech giants to take action, transforming its 2020 Summit from a large-scale, face-to-face event in Las Vegas for customers, partners and employees to a digital experience. The decision came as a surprise to many because Adobe decided to pivot to digital only weeks before its March 31 event (one of its largest events of the year, where its latest products and platforms are unveiled) and we were still in the early stages of the shutdowns in this country. A few of us in the office attended the online Adobe Summit and found it to be really engaging.
Since that time, Adobe added a section on its website that lists COVID-19 resources by industry sector, and also has a banner at the top of its homepage which goes to a landing page with updates on what the company is doing to help its customers, employees, and community. The information that’s being shared is relevant and supportive, including extended free trials and special pricing on the Adobe Sign e-signature solution, announcing that Adobe is contributing $4.5 million to organizations that are assisting people who have been impacted by COVID-19, sharing stories of how Adobe employees are giving back to their local communities, and more. – Gail Vadia, digital content manager
And a second thumbs up for Adobe.
The landing page and the places you can go from it are exactly the kind of experience I would expect for a brand this big and this focused on creating. Its initiatives to support education, government and small business don’t seem huge but they are making them and that’s notable. Furthermore, I love that they have a whole section devoted to stories.
I’d say if Adobe is doing something wrong it’s not shouting loudly enough about all of this. – Christina Hussey, vice president for digital media
Key Takeaway: It takes bold leadership to react quickly and decisively in the face of the unknown. Don’t be afraid to be that leader; your customers will remember you for it.
Uncertainty is pretty high
if not on the top of the list of words that no business wants to have to use to describe their current financial situation. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has left countless businesses, small and large, uncertain of how to field unprecedented challenges and uncertainty.
Thankfully for its clients, Truliant has absolutely nailed its response. With dedicated and concise messaging, it has built a consumable, easy-to-navigate COVID-19 response page that’s aptly named Truliant Health Updates. Included in the content is both Truliant’s stance on the safety of clients AND staff (complete with a video message from Todd Hall, CEO and president) and quick links to top-of-mind concerns such as financial relief options, updated branch hours and special scheduling options for members.
Truliant has always positioned itself as a dependable, trusted partner to its members and its COVID-19 message continues to hammer this home. While many of its national competitors sent the obligatory, expected emails and added statements to their websites, Truliant has used this as an opportunity to strengthen its relationships with its members and offer a little peace of mind to offset the uncertainty. – Jeff Thomas, senior creative designer
Key Takeaway: Live your motto. Always.
photo: LisaCarter / Shutterstock.com
Ease-of-use made Zoom the go-to for industries and organizations that weren’t used to video chatting.
The free option made it a low-risk solution to new working from home needs for many companies. However, where Zoom really excelled was in investing in development during the crisis moment. It opened up bandwidth on its servers quickly as its user base surged, responded promptly to security criticisms that arose in April, and continued to add new features.
While there are still some concerns around security, concerns that most of these video chatting services share, I have not seen a decrease in the use of Zoom in my personal interactions. I’ve even noticed people referring to all video calls as “Zoom” despite the service they are actually using, indicating that there is such a strong connection between the brand name and the type of service that it is becoming like a Xerox or a Kleenex.
The numbers lend a little credibility to my personal experience. In December 2019 the service had approximately 10 million users, in March 2020 it had 200 million+ users, and at the close of April it showed continued growth to climb all the way to 300 million+ users. (These numbers were reported by Zoom on various blog posts). – Christina
Key Takeaways: If you can jump in during a crisis and respond quickly to criticism, you can win new customers and earn their loyalty.
We’d like to hear your questions on this topic and have multiple ways for you to ask them:
- You can submit questions to be answered on our livestream discussion at 10 a.m. on May 28. Click HERE submit them now
- Post a comment in the box below.
- Use the chat feature on our new website.
- Call us at 336-245-2436 or email your account manager directly.
While you are clicking, check out some of our other #WhatHappensAfter content:
We offered our tips on how to do a communications audit; how to adapt to changes in the customer journey; what to say in your messages; and how to find the right channels for sharing them. You can find all #WhatHappensAfter content and related videos on the Vela website.