The fear and uncertainty we all are experiencing due to the COVID-19 situation reminds me of a quote by Fred Rogers, the late American television personality better known simply as Mister Rogers. He would tell the young viewers of his PBS television program that when fearful to, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Indeed, today we see no shortage of “helpers.” Front-line medical workers, local and national leaders and those who maintain critical supply chains are clearly “helpers” during these unprecedented times. But make no mistake, there is also an opportunity for most every brand to be a “helper” for their customers.
The same processes brands have historically used to connect with consumers can and should continue to be employed, only right now they need to be applied a bit differently to stay engaged with consumers and help them stay safe and healthy.
As an example, an American supercenter chain with stores throughout the Midwest, recently reached out to Acxiom for ideas on how to reach its customers who may be at-risk in the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer is working on a community outreach program to people older than 60 to ensure they are aware of and know how to access information about its free home delivery services. The retailer is using customer-level data and relevant messaging to engage with people who need them most right now.
Consumers sheltering at home are as plugged in as they’ve ever been and are being bombarded with “noise” from both traditional and digital media. What can brands do to cut through the noise and make a difference in a time of so much uncertainty? They get personal. Really personal. There has never been a better time to show empathy, for brands to show that they really “get” their customers. They need brands to use data and create content to inform and maybe even distract them. And they need help to think about what the future will bring when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
Use Core Demographics
Core demographics like age, presence of children and household size can be of vital importance as brands work to connect with segments of the population that may need certain forms of assistance caused by this situation. Using information about the makeup of a household can help indicate a need for extra assistance or the need for feeling connected to others.
Connect with Charitable Givers
Brands with active community outreach programs may want to connect with altruistic individuals who have a propensity to give to charitable causes. Using this type of modeled data can indicate an openness for self-sacrifice and coming to the aid of others.
Identify Neighborhoods in Need
Census data applied in an area-level manner helps identify neighborhoods where residents are near or below certain affluence levels. This non-individual and non-household level data has items such as means of transportation and disability penetrations. This geo/area-level data can help identify areas that may be in a greater need for certain types of products and services.
Channel Preference Indicators
Using channel preference indicators can enable brands and advertisers to quickly prioritize channel strategies for communication. Contacting consumers via different channels may provide an economic strain, so it behooves brands to be as efficient as possible, focusing on the channel that will be most useful to the consumer. Well established email, phone append, reverse email and phone products are vital here as well.
Distance to Locations
As consumers are becoming more of a buy online, pick up in-store population, brands need to understand how far, logistically, their customers are from which brick-and-mortar locations so they can efficiently manage distribution and deliveries.
These are just a few ideas we have. At Acxiom, we are helping our clients actively deal with this situation as it evolves by applying expertise, data and technology solutions to help create solutions that serve the needs of consumers and the brands they love.
Given the situation, there’s never been a better time to know more about your customers.