Focus Forward Volume 3: Building Buzz for Your Brandby Erin Maynard
If your business is seeing less sales right now, community outreach may be the last thing on your mind. After all, if you’re not making much, you can’t do much, right? However, contributing in times of need positively impacts customers’ perception of your brand, and garners priceless goodwill.
A recent survey by data analytics firm YouGov indicated that a majority of Americans—60 percent—are more likely to purchase from a company that has aided in the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the companies that do contribute have seen huge increases in their buzz scores, a metric that measures whether consumers have heard anything positive about a brand in the past two weeks.
After automotive giant GM partnered with Ventec Life Systems to start producing ventilators and surgical face masks, the company’s buzz score increased by an astounding 50 percent.
Similarly, after Ford announced it was partnering with 3M and GE Healthcare to transition to making medical equipment like face shields and other personal protective equipment, the company’s buzz score increased by 19 percent.
This is the most positive brand sentiment either company has had in the past year, according to YouGov’s brand index data.
Other national brands, such as clothing manufacturers the Gap and Eddie Bauer are making face masks, while Anheuser-Busch and Tito's have pivoted from producing alcohol to making hand sanitizer.
Of course, small businesses can’t make the same large-scale contributions that multinational conglomerates can, and that’s OK. If you’re a small business, you’re trying to build your reputation and your brand loyalty in your own backyard, not across the country.
So whether you’re a pizzeria donating food to your local hospital, a group of craft vendors teaching people how to make face masks or an independent pharmacy that’s started compounding hand sanitizer, let your current and potential customers know what you’ve been up to during these past few weeks. Use your social media to share stories of your business engaging with your community and helping out however it can.
As discouraging as things might seem right now, this situation isn’t going to last forever. Governors across the country are already discussing the best ways to begin reopening the economy. Once things have stabilized, customers are going to remember which companies supported their communities and which didn’t.
Both Wells Fargo and Ruth’s Chris are already facing backlash over their participation in the PPP program, which is meant to assist small businesses during this current crisis. There have been petitions demanding the companies amend their practices and calls for the companies to be boycotted. Meanwhile, Shake Shack has garnered goodwill for returning the $10 million in emergency funding that the government had given the company.
During the “stay in place” mandates, people are spending 20 percent more time on their devices. They’re engaging with their brands, even if they aren’t buying right now. So make sure what they are seeing from your brand is positive and community oriented. They’ll still remember in six months, when they are buying.