Creating Engagement in Challenging Times
by Laurel Lapidus

Determining the Most Impactful Interactions for Your Customers

Successful relationships require a lot of work. We (should) all know that by now. Whether it’s building strong family bonds or bolstering brand affinity, relationships tend to last only if they are supportive, laced with memorable moments, and based on trust.

Brands that are focusing on personalized and empathic customer experiences are delivering what people need now: connection. Treating customers as individuals and providing support relevant to their new normal allows for authenticity in marketing communications and brand engagement that hasn’t been seen before.

Like any relationship forged in a crisis, brands that can connect with and walk through uncertain times with their customers will see a tightening of those relationships — and long-term brand loyalty.

Creating Memorable Moments

Remember when creating amazing moments for customers included things like exclusive, branded concerts; pop-up stores in the middle of Manhattan; and other high-touch, highly produced experiences? It feels like forever ago. And who knows when those things will come back.

The world is different now. Today, brands that are creating the most memorable moments are those that truly listen to their customers, act with empathy, respect (and protect) individual needs, and are unwavering in doing what’s right.

Never in history has it been so important for brands to reflect the interests and ethos of their customers — and to reflect a sense of understanding and commitment to providing value and giving back. That’s why it’s also never in history been so important for brands to understand who their customers are; what they want; how, where, and when they want to be spoken to; and to anticipate and predict what people need next.

Brands that truly imbue their core values and bring personalized pertinence and value — in every moment and every exchange with their customers — are the ones charting the future of engagement.

Content That Resonates

Let consumers guide you to their new preferred channels, ways of communication, and areas of need. In helping our clients, we rely on first-party data, always-on listening, and Omnicom’s proprietary insights and trend forecasting tools to responsibly observe where people are engaging, what they seem to want now, and what we believe they’ll want next. Maintaining relevancy in where and how we are showing up for consumers — always putting their preferences and needs first — is key to creating that connection and affinity.

Participating in a TikTok challenge, supporting the pandemic charities most important to specific audiences, and designing new products and services for today’s changing customer needs are just a few ways to build those long-lasting connections. Brands should double down in an effort to show up for consumers where they are — and with relevant messaging that matters to them.

In order for brands to find new opportunities and channels for connection, it requires looking at customers in the smallest operationally possible groups of like-minded people. Looking at entire audiences and applying broad-stroke assumptions to find trends, values, or needs will dilute pertinence, perceived value, and impact. Here are few tips to live by instead:

1. Put first things first. Identify your most valuable, like-minded groups and narrow your focus to drive the greatest ROI. Reward your biggest brand advocates with incredible experiences so they remain interested and engaged for the long haul.

2. Develop separate strategies for each group. Dig into consumer insights and trend forecasting for these discrete audiences. Discover their passions, how they spend their time, what language excites (and annoys) them, what brands they trust, what their daily routine looks like in their new normal, and what they need right now. It’s a long list, sure, but all of those elements are interconnected and inseparable in creating meaningful experiences. The more you know, the deeper your relationship will grow.

3. Be helpful or be gone. Too many brands fail to provide legitimate utility and value to their customers. You need to show up where the customer is and provide what they need. Now more than ever, people have little patience for brands that seem self-serving or oblivious to their needs. Whether introducing personally relevant products or services, providing education or useful tips, offering savings (money or time) — or even just a laugh or a supportive shoulder during times of turmoil — brands that serve are the brands that will last.

4. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Staying safe within the reins of what the brand has always done means missing new opportunities for connection. Other brands are stepping into the unknown and looking to build that connection. Don’t be left behind.

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