Getting ready for the fiscal cliff

Getting your brand recession-ready

2 Minute Read

As a Black Swan event, coronavirus has taken us by surprise. But the recession it triggered has been looming for some time. How is your business placed to support customers and communicate your good intentions?

An economic crisis we saw coming

Unlike the onset of the pandemic, the government’s official announcement of our first recession in 30 years was hardly a bombshell. Redundancies, businesses closing their doors and the Federal Government spending a massive 10% of GDP on keeping the lights on for our economy were all clear warning signs that this was coming.

With the JobKeeper extension, some Australians will be staying in the black for now, but facing job insecurity beyond Q1 2021. Others will struggle as the stimulus boost to Centrelink payments tapers off. For financial services, it’s absolutely vital to have a forward-thinking strategy to support and communicate with all these customers.

This is a golden opportunity to lead the conversation by offering the practical help and reassurance that can defuse a stress response to uncertainty. By looking at your whole marketing approach through the lens of what anxious customers need to hear, you can make your messages far more meaningful and engaging.

Mapping unknown territory

This is the first time Australia has been in recession for 30 years. So hardly anyone in marketing, or in our sector, knows quite what to do next. But in the absence of a clear roadmap, here are four things to keep top of mind as you ramp up your marketing strategy for a recession:

Be clear on your course of action

Don’t wait for internal stakeholders to come to you. Get on the front foot and talk to senior leadership, your product and sales teams about steps they’re taking to help customers meet the new challenges. And once you know what the plan is, get agreement on how and when that’s going to be communicated.

If they’re reluctant to engage, show them a recent report from Edelman on brand trust. According to their global research nearly half of respondents (44 percent) said they’re using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make customer’s lives easier

If you’re changing up the product or service, it’s natural to talk this up in terms of what you’re doing that’s different. But now, more than ever, peddling products and services on the strength of their features is going get in the way of connecting with people who are completely distracted by major changes in their finances and lifestyle. They need to know what you’re doing that’s making their lives easier, so think about how you translate your offer into messages that meet this need.

Show understanding without stating the obvious

Another way to connect with customers is to create messages that show you understand what they’re going through. Keep compassion in mind as you develop content and you’ll be on the right track.

But a word of warning about stating the obvious. In doing this you run the risk of delivering copycat communication and motherhood statements. How many times have we seen or heard ‘we’re here for you’ in marketing messages since the pandemic began? Plus, there is the added risk of talking down to your customer. Aim to dial up the compassion while still showing respect for the intelligence of your audience.

Focus on long-term solutions and action

Having said this, financial stress can play havoc with our general ability to make smart money choices. In their recent Mind Over Money study Capital One and The Decision Lab found that people experiencing financial stress are less likely to save and plan their spending. And the way to counter this self-sabotaging behaviour? Thinking about long-term goals, even for a few seconds, can help undo these negative impacts.

So there is definitely something to be said for messaging that offers prompts to get your audience thinking about their finances for the long term.

At a time when more and more people are going to be lacking a sense of control, it’s incredibly important to change up your messaging to meet them in their more vulnerable state. And while you and your team are almost certainly facing your own fair share of uncertainty as to how to go about this, following these four signposts can keep you on the right track with your strategy and execution.

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