Fill The Void

Brands and consumers alike are in a state of uncertainty right now due to COVID-19. For brands, their previous message plans are taking a back seat to the current crisis, sometimes becoming irrelevant all together. For consumers, they don’t know if their reality yesterday will still be their reality tomorrow, especially given that the situation we’re all in changes daily. This causes anxiety, and rightly so. The brands that come out on top when this is all over with be the ones that take this opportunity to focus on connecting with consumers at an authentic, emotional level — because consumers will remember that they helped them get through this difficult time.

How Brands are Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Brands across many industries are stepping up and focusing on helping their communities get through COVID-19. They’ve put their bottom line below the importance of coming together in this time of need, and for that, their bottom line will likely be rewarded in the long run as people realize who’s got their back (and their neighbors’ backs and their families’ backs, etc.) when they need it most — and who doesn’t.

We’ve all heard the heartwarming story of distilleries around the country prioritizing people over profit, and making hand sanitizer at the expense of their own product production and bottom line. But the press they’ve received and the name recognition they have now earned likely far outweighs this initial cut. Other brands like Ford are pausing payments, while markets like Costco are imposing purchase limits to reduce panic buying and initiating seniors-only hours. All of these things relieve consumer anxiety about the uncertainty of tomorrow. In fact, according to the Global Web Index, only 37% of people globally think brands should continue advertising as normal. Instead, they appreciate (and are likely to remember) brands that provide flexible payment options, offer free services, close non-essential stores, and help to produce essential supplies.

How Health Brands are Responding

The healthcare industry has begun to make strides here too. Many healthcare brands are protecting customers from out-of-pocket costs associated with COVID-19, and states are providing additional opportunities for the uninsured to gain access to healthcare. And while these actions are great, only the healthcare industry has the additional opportunity to gain people’s trust by updating them on the topic on the forefront of everyone’s mind for which only they are experts in: health – particularly as it pertains to COVID-19.

According to Resonate, nearly 3/4ths of adults across the US are concerned about not having enough hospital beds and that doctors and nurses may not have enough personal protective equipment. These are concerns that the healthcare industry can help assuage through consistent communication on what they’re doing about it. Additionally, a Harris Poll shows that of adults in the U.S. who have healthcare, 73% of them want to hear from their healthcare providers about the Coronavirus at least once a week. People responsible for taking care of others like parents and caregivers for the elderly show particularly high interest in this.

Healthcare’s Missed Opportunities

Surprisingly few healthcare companies are taking this opportunity to solidify their brand in consumers’ minds. According to PubMatic, of all the industries for which ad spend has increased due to this pandemic, healthcare is not one of them. Here’s this great opportunity where people actually want to hear more from healthcare brands, and yet, they’re not seizing that opportunity.

In order to solidify their brand in consumers’ minds, healthcare companies need to start owning more of this conversation by increasing their amount of communication on this subject. People want to be informed about how COVID-19’s constant developments may impact them and what their healthcare provider is doing to keep people healthy and safe. This may mean investing in more communication or averting current product-focused advertisements to focus on communicating health information related to COVID-19.

How To Earn—and Keep—Your Audiences’ Trust

Whatever the tactic, if brands communicate in a way that authentically uses their brand strengths and genuinely speaks to consumers’ needs, they’ll be a step ahead in becoming a voice people trust. The key words here though are “authentically” and “genuinely”. Brand advertising in a time of crisis is tricky because there’s a fine line between being opportunistic and using what you have available to truly make a positive difference. Advertising and Marketing agencies like TRAFFIK Health are well versed in identifying creative ways for brands to authentically communicate the difference they’re making.

How Health Brands Can Succeed

If your brand is taking on this challenge, remember to:

  • Be truthful and stay optimistic, so that you become your audiences’ constant source of support during this stressful time.
  • Focus on what your brand is doing to help keep people healthy, again, leveraging your strengths.
  • Discuss changes your brand is making to adapt to what people currently need.
  • Thank the people working through these difficult times on your and communities’ behalf.

The end goal should always be to better serve the people who have entrusted their healthcare to you, and show those who have not yet entrusted their healthcare to you why they should. The more you can do that now when they’re really depending on you, the more likely they’ll remember you fondly in the future.

Listen to Kimberly Gossard discuss COVID-19 and healthcare’s missed opportunities in our TRAFFIK Update podcast: