In fast-moving and uncertain situations, communication can be a challenge.
While you may have been temporarily stalled by the dramatic changes of the last month, now is the right time to be proactive in your customer connections. Crisis communication specialists tell us that, in hard times, communicating early and often is crucial.
The decisions you make now are essential for your business to survive today and to thrive later on.
Reports of postal workers testing positive for the novel coronavirus may have raised some concerns that the pathogen could live on letters and packages, potentially exposing people to infection just from opening their mail or packages. But the U.S. Postal Service has assured us that the mail is still safe:
“There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mail,” the postal service said recently, alluding to the disease caused by the virus and citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Most businesses are still mailing at this time, but if you have questions about direct mail marketing, you are not alone. It’s important to be ready with answers for your customers, preferably from reliable sources like the Center for Disease Control:
“Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” says the CDC. “Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with [mail and packages] and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”
Because the virus is not spread through the skin, but through the respiratory tracks, any contact with mail or packages is not an immediate danger. Regular hand-washing and proper hygiene are the most important factors for mitigating any risk with envelopes, packages, or really with any contaminated surfaces.
Since people are currently hungry for connection, there is no better time to lean into your marketing efforts.
But be sensitive in doing this, and offer messages of hope and relief. Dartmouth professor Paul Argenti offers these tips for communicating during a crisis:
For example, Target sent out a note from the CEO to customers, describing enhanced cleaning procedures and additional staffing for order pickup and drive-up services.
JetBlue became the first airline to waive change and cancel fees for coronavirus-related concerns. The move went a long way towards reassuring current customers as well as bringing new ones on board. Insurance companies, in contrast, do not consider the coronavirus a valid reason for canceling a flight.
Be creative, but keep empathy in mind. Companies should reshape advertising and promotion strategies to be more in line with the current mood of the day.
While we’re all in unfamiliar territory right now, everyone wants to support each other.
Businesses care about customers, and all of us care about economic recovery. Keep reaching out to your clients and remember that this is only temporary. While this situation won’t last, many positive outcomes will!
The lessons we learn today can make us more flexible, strategic, and more community-minded.