Five ways to join the growing ranks of companies helping during COVID-19 and improve consumer perceptions of your brand

Maggie Whitley | April 2, 2020

Not all companies can donate millions, but helping in little ways is important too.

Consumers are keeping tabs on how companies are responding to the pandemic, but they are noticing more than just the grand gestures. We looked across the board to find out what is making customers stop and take notice. Read below to find out how you can grow your brand and help the world during COVID-19 — without breaking the bank.

1. Put the customer first, and make sure you are letting your customers know you are here for them

  • Waive patient out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment like UnitedHealthcare. (Forbes)
  • Extend return policies.
  • Include notes of empathy online to soften the blow when inventory is out of stock.
  • Spread savings where you can and make customers aware of discounts.
  • Boost your tech presence with innovations like virtual group shopping.
  • Reduce guessing for online shoppers by adding additional product testimonials or offering longer trial periods.
  • Make your online user experience easy to browse and visually relaxing.

2. Boost morale with positive messaging during these uncertain times

Do you have a service or offering that you want consumers to take advantage of now? From Netflix parties to daily tips for keeping kids engaged, many consumers, as well as news outlets, are sharing ways for customers to make the most of their time at home.

As a company, you need to advertise how your products can help — if you can't do that, share something else that is helpful.

  • Take the situation seriously and be informative.
  • Share problem-solving tips to give your consumers back some control.
  • Offer daily tips for keeping kids engaged. (Washington Post)
  • Promote/share your solutions, like the "Netflix Party" browser extension that helps virtual connecting become the new normal.
  • Help moms and caregivers with female-specific messaging.
  • Increase virtual connections with employees and customers using video.
  • Share viral posts that matter to your customers.

Visa CEO pledges no COVID-19-related layoffs3. Stand beside your employees and prioritize public safety — it will lead to goodwill among employees and consumers

  • Verizon boosted pay for remaining retail workers after 70% of its stores closed. (Light Reading)
  • Starbucks CEO and President Kevin Johnson pledged to pay workers ("partners") for the next 30 days, regardless of whether they come into work or even if the stores close due to COVID-19. (Starbucks)
  • VISA CEO reassures employees — no COVID-19-related layoffs in 2020.
  • Texas Roadhouse CEO foregoes salary for one year to pay workers amid coronavirus. (Fox News)

4. Utilize your assets — whatever they may be — to stop the spread and help the sick

"Customers with emotional relationships with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, rather than the average rate of 45%." (Motista)

  • Anheuser-Busch is "using our supply and logistics network to begin producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to accommodate the growing needs across the United States."
  • Target is "investing more than $300 million, including increased hourly wages, a new paid leave program, bonuses and community assistance for local, national & global organizations responding to the pandemic…" (@Target)
  • Toyota starts "fabrication of face shields and collaboration to ramp up the manufacture of vital medical devices for hospitals" (Toyota Newsroom)
  • Ford begins work with 3M, GEHealthcare, and UAW "to lend our engineering and manufacturing expertise to quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders, and patients fighting #COVID19." (@Ford)

4 ½. Local North Carolina companies are stepping up to the plate

  • HanesBrands is working around the clock to produce cotton surgical masks in factories that usually make t-shirts and sweatpants. (Triangle Business Journal)
  • South Sea Outdoor Living & Oasis Home of Greensboro is making medical use masks from materials usually used to produce their seating upholstery. (Triad Business Journal)
  • Culp Inc. of High Point has pivoted their production lines to make protective face masks to aid in the fight against coronavirus. (Triad Business Journal)
  • Hudson Hill has "taken a contract for @conehealth to make 10,000 face masks using @burlington1923 Maxima AT breathable barrier fabric, non-latex elastic from AEC, and thread from A&E. Elevate Textiles donated the materials to aid our ability to quickly support local frontline healthcare providers risking their lives daily…"

5. Utilize social media listening to help understand what your consumers need

We are looking down the road to see what consumers will need in the coming weeks. Reach out to Bellomy to find out how we can target your customers specifically to hear what they are saying and feeling about your company.

We can help you understand:

  • How are consumers changing their behaviors around online purchasing?
  • How are people searching for services?
  • How many behavior changes will last the year, two years, or become permanent?
  • How can retailers get people to come back into the store after this passes?