Mar 18, 2020

The New Normal: Empathy

Tim Leon Communications Agency, General, Public Relations, Strategy, Trends
Tim Leon President/Brand Strategist

Let’s get this out of the way: this is a blog concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. But I’m hoping it provides marketers a simple solution to how to address your marketing and messaging for the next few months. It may not be a cure-all, but there is a way to move forward – a way to adapt your marketing to the new normal and connecting your brand to customers in a way like never before.

It boils down to one word: empathy. 

Now is the time for brands to be empathetic to their stakeholders, their prospects, their long-time customers and their employees. I believe brands can get out in front with a marketing strategy that is right for the times. What do I mean?  Here’s a couple of great examples.

A local magazine Time Out New York is transitioning to Time In New York as their name temporarily to address New Yorkers who are not out on the town, but are hunkering down and staying indoors. Time Out New York’s website is currently emphasizing stories such as “The best takeout and delivery restaurants in New York” and “The 40 best movies on Netflix right now,” as well as “The latest canceled events and closures over coronavirus in NYC.

On an international level, Guinness sent its loyal fans a special St. Patrick’s Day message in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was a powerful video and my favorite line was “Let’s not forget that on St. Patrick’s Day, we are all Irish…. But every day, we are all human.” The message being that we have a responsibility to be there for each other during these times. And while this new video was being unveiled, an announcement confirmed that Guinness made a major charitable donation to the on-going efforts to tack coronavirus in the U.S.

So, empathy always wins and we find the best way to express it in our brands by listening to our customers…not just in times of crisis but every day. There’s no great compliment when someone says about a brand, “They really get me.”

So, for the next few weeks, I would ask that you consider a new marketing metric…ROE. Return on Empathy. The brands that will stand out over the next few months with be those brands than can connect with the needs of their customers. And that empathy will result in maintaining/growing market share, increasing customer loyalty, generating high employee satisfaction, and much more. The brands that can lift their customers and their employees up during this pandemic will be remembered for a long, long, time. As the Guinness video so aptly stated, “When we lift a pint of Guinness, let’s remember to lift each other up.” 

Now is the time for brands to rise to the challenge and truly deliver on the ROE. Being an empathetic brand will help you win the hearts and minds of your employees, customers, and the world. And those brands that empathize and show it won’t be forgotten. At G/L, we can help you find the best way to generate ROE for your brand. We’ve done it for many brands and would be happy to share our insights.