Customers are facing new challenges or prioritizing long-standing ones. By understanding what those needs are and doing what you can do to genuinely and authentically help, you can help them be successful and cultivate stronger relationships.

You are staring into the abyss. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt about your marketing strategy occupy your mind. And while you need to remain agile as the crisis unfolds to determine how to best pivot, there is a very important measure you can take today. Be there for your customers and give them something today that helps them now – and with absolutely no expectation of anything in return.

 

It can be incredibly difficult to do so when you are still trying to figure out how to keep your own lights on. But once you find some stability, strongly consider how you can rally the executive leadership team around helping your customers and be there for them now by giving.

 

During WWII, Marks and Spencer did just that. Materials were in short supply, and over a hundred of its stores were being hit by bombing raids. Despite these dire conditions, they figured out how to make ration clothing for the public. In the decades that followed, Britain remembered Marks and Spencer were there for them when times were tough. This helped cement customer loyalty for life.

 

How can you do the same? Ensure your give is meaningful, empathetic, and genuine. And in this case, don’t follow your ABCs – never be closing.

 

Be Meaningful

 

First, consider your relationship with your customer base. How many of us have been bombarded with emails from CEOs of companies we haven’t engaged with in years (if not decades), letting us know that they are there for us? Segment your customer base and tailor your message appropriately. Strike the appropriate tone based on the longevity and type of relationship.

Second, consider your customer needs – not your needs. Do your customers need to quickly scale up users? Do they need to use your product, solution, or service in new ways? Do they need help with something you might not normally do but could easily assist with?

 

Tableau provided a give that does exactly that by delivering COVID-19 data resources to analysts and visualizers who need it now. They were successful because the company:

 

  • Recognized the need to move fast – It can take a ton of time to collect all the data needed for analysis. Tableau did the grunt work and provided a free resource hub.
  • Shared additional data resources – As dashboards and visualizations were built, Tableau hosted and worked to ensure they had the broadest public reach.
  • Anticipated next steps – Links to data access, technical details, and discussion forums were provided to make it easy for like-minded individuals to get to work and collaborate.

     

Be Empathetic and Genuine

 

Empathy is defined as the capacity to understand what another is experiencing from within their frame of reference. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. In addition to health, safety, and welfare concerns, what else is occupying their minds? Is there a way you can help and make those burdens any less taxing?

 

One company understood those needs and acted. Meero is a platform that frees photographers to spend more time on their craft and less time on advertising, contracting, and delivery. As people moved to remote working, one thought running through their customers’ minds was how to manage the transfer of large, high-quality photos from home where bandwidth may be limited. So Meero now provides its premium offering for free and reducing this burden.

 

Although we don’t know exactly the thought process this company went through, we are willing to bet there was not some complicated calculus estimating a potential ROI or lost revenue exposure. It was simply a response to a customer need now. Don’t overthink. Act.

 

Before we dive in, be sure to check out my colleague Laura Hall’s blog 4 Ways for CMOs to Partner with Customer Success to Execute a Stellar Retention Play for more on how to build a tighter relationship with your customers.

 

Never Be Closing

 

It is unnatural as a marketer not to have a call to action that ultimately drives towards the close. Resist the urge. And after that, watch out for the unintended sell:

 

  • Resist the urge to talk about features and benefits. Now is not the time. As well-intentioned as you may be, including them erodes what is and should be a genuine offer.
  • Review your automation campaigns. Look for words, language, and imagery that, at any other time, may have resonated well but is tone-deaf today—for example, an offer to set up an in-person demo.

After taking care of your team (see my colleague Jenny Sung’s post During a Crisis, CEOs Should Lead Internal Communications for additional tips on this), truly put your customers first.  Don’t let customer-centricity be a soundbite – walk the walk, especially when times are tough.

Below are some additional resources you might find helpful:

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Waters

Provides clients strategic insight and support to uncover new revenue opportunities to help them make their number.

Brian is a marketing and customer experience leader who has grown revenue, profit and satisfaction as a practitioner and consultant.

 

Prior to joining SBI, he built the new B2B marketing function at Hilton that generated over $30 million in revenue in one year.

 

Earlier in his career he held multiple roles at The Walt Disney Company including leading experience planning for a portfolio of attraction, resort, retail and dining concepts to yield higher per-guest spending and satisfaction. In addition, Brian led brand and revenue marketing programs that increased attendance and hotel room-nights.

 

Areas of particular expertise and focus include marketing strategy, campaign planning, lead generation and management, branding, content planning, segmentation, digital planning, product marketing, account based marketing and organizational design.

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