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Phases in the Crisis

In later phases of the crisis, you can switch from empathy and addressing fears to providing (stories about) hope and perspective. That’s when your products and services can come into play more prominently. But at first, focus on the direct experiences your clients have with the crisis and the role you can play in this. Fight your company leadership on urges to go for ‘business as usual’, ‘extra discounts’ and other brand destructive communication and actions. Hiding or selling out won’t save your revenue stream. Battle fiercely with the financial guys in your company about cash vs value and don’t hold back on this one. Connect with us if you might need arguments, numbers or cases to make your point.

The following table indicates various expected phases of the current Corona crisis or similar situations and suggestions on how to communicate through these different phases.

  Customer Mood Your tone of voice, theme, added value
Early Phase Many uncertainties, fears, paralyzing attitude Confirm you’re aware and alert. Reassure certainties you can assure; for example that you will inform them about next steps. Create trust through responsiveness, expertise and empathy. Mention precautions you have taken without being defensive.
Early realization Customers realize what’s happening and start to act on basics: safety, food and (obviously)… toilet paper. Empathy, focus on the customer’s circumstances. Offer information, support or inspiring services. Great opportunities to stand out from the crowd. Authenticity is extremely important
New reality Customers settle in new routines (working from home; unemployment, changed trust levels towards health care and authorities). Ensure ongoing support beyond the emergency. Align with the situations of those who have to work hard and with those that lost their jobs, opportunities. Carefully align your brand and products with these situations.
Restoring normality Customers are making new plans and act on them. Offer hope and inspiration. Clearly position your products in this theme and communicate consistently on the themes you choose in the previous phases, using the deepened relationship to be their preferred destination. Capitalize on your investments in earlier phases. Prepare ongoing activities that confirm the deeper relationship.

Because not all phases (especially the later ones) will occur at the same moment and in the same way for everyone, personalization is important. Try to collect data early on how to establish if your audiences are moving to later phases so you can stand out with a great timing. In crises, timing is more important than usual, so you don’t want to create ‘another marketing calendar’ but work with indicators that help you connect your messages with the (individual) customer context.

For the Corona crisis, geography is an important indicator. Purchase behavior can be a good indicator for phase shifting (people show more trust in the future), but you should also use the data from your member-get-member program to identify lookalikes. In that way, an event for one customer can signal the next phase for a larger group of similar customers.

Click here to continue! > > (Marketing Communication Action Framework)

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