As a PR and marketing consultant, this pandemic has thrown quite a lot of questions my way about how businesses should proceed during such an uncommon time when the economy is in flux. One of the questions I get most often from my clients though is this:
What should my brand say, or not say, regarding [insert newsworthy issue here] ?
Whether you are for or against the Black Lives Matter Movement, wearing masks, opening schools, Trump or Biden, having in-person events or only virtual, there is one universal truth that transcends it all:
Take a second and let that sink in a little bit because that is the answer to the above question. If you want to ensure your true, ideal customers stick with you and stay with you forever, then be clear about where you stand on the issues.
Yes, this will most likely lose you some clients/customers. But guess what? If they walk away because you proclaimed what you believe, then they aren’t your ideal client anyway. (And yes, I’m assuming you made your statements in a professional and non-derogatory manner.)
The flip side of that coin are the ones who will stick with you for LIFE because of your statement. When we find a brand that aligns with our values, we as consumers tend to stay with them for the long-haul across time, price fluctuations, and even geographical changes.
Think about it: How many times have you driven further to see your same service provider at a new office because you like them so much?
We do it because that brand/person/company has demonstrated traits and service qualities we like and identify with.
This is why our society loves small businesses too. We know the price for an item at our local boutique or grocery store is more expensive than it is at a larger box store, but we buy it anyway because we like supporting our local entrepreneurs.
From personal experience, I can tell you that I now drive 45 minutes to see my dog’s veterinarian despite the fact that there is another animal hospital just one mile from my house. Why? The service.
It isn’t just small businesses that can benefit from this though. Take the airlines for example. They are HUGE companies but have each made very public statements about how they will handle (or not) social distancing on their planes.
We know the travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and their losses are adding up. Delta has committed to keeping the middle seats blocked through September 30. American Airlines, on the other hand, is filling planes to capacity as of July 1.
One side will say: American should definitely fill the planes. Empty planes = less flights = lost jobs!
The other says: I don’t want people to lose jobs, but filling a plane is just not safe. I’m with Delta on this one.
Whichever camp you fall into, each airline has either gained or lost your brand loyalty as a result of their statement and path forward. The same is true for your brand.
So my advice is this: figure out what you believe and stick to it as a brand.
You may lose some, but you’ll gain more loyalty in the long-run. Just remember to be professional, consistent and authentic in your statements.