Five Ways To Maintain Brand Loyalty During A Pandemic

For marketers worldwide, we’re facing an unprecedented time. There’s certainly no textbook and not even a chapter about how to keep the plates spinning during a pandemic. No matter how strategic or spontaneous your marketing efforts have been to date, it seems that everyone is faced with the same dilemmas:

  • How do we keep our products and services moving while storefronts are closing and we’re adjusting to the world’s new normal?
  • Where and when do we respectfully pause our promotions or adapt our regularly scheduled content for something more appropriate at this time?
  • Are there strategic ways to maintain customer loyalty or even increase it through our current efforts?

At The Lacek Group, where every day we’re helping clients develop and implement their loyalty strategies, we believe that when this crisis is in our rearview mirror, we’ll recognize the brands that demonstrated relevancy and the brands that missed the mark. Here are five ways that brands across industries can maintain and even establish brand loyalty during this uncertain time.


  1. Consider your nonmembers: Regardless of your strategy up until this moment, now is not the time for exclusivity. Look for ways to establish value for the world or for those in your community—ways you can uniquely step up to help. Do you have content that’s normally gated, shipping costs typically waived only for certain customers or a service generally extended only to an elite audience? Perhaps it’s time to expand the reach of these benefits. Fitness brands like Beachbody and Jillian Michaels, for example, are offering free streaming services for the homebound in the wake of gyms closing nationwide. Knowing they have a captive audience, these brands have chosen to give rather than exclude or upsell, and it may serve them well long after gyms reopen.


  1. Extend value for existing members: While it may not be the time for exclusivity, there likely are ways that you can offer value to your most loyal customers or members. T-Mobile, for example, is currently offering free unlimited data — helping their customers stay more connected in an increasingly virtual lifestyle. Many businesses are setting up new curbside pickup solutions or even delivery options. And some brands that had to close up shop completely are offering gift card promotions or perks for customers to claim when their stores reopen. Beyond just asking customers to keep shopping online, think about ways your brand can uniquely meet customers’ needs during this time.


  1. Be flexible with customers, especially your best ones: While you’re watching your own trend lines and trying to keep revenue coming in, remember that the decisions you make today will reflect back on you later this year and likely well into the future. Be thoughtful about your cancellation policies, expiration dates for promotions, member loyalty guidelines and beyond. Remember what your loyalty programs were designed to do in the first place, and how you might extend those principles to a broader audience to earn their trust and brand loyalty. Where can you offer a little flexibility to your otherwise strict policies?


  1. Take an empathetic tone: If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a hundred boilerplate messages from retailers, service providers and other brands, sharing their position and their policies during this tough time. Providing an update at this time is critical for every brand, and you should post clear messaging on the home page of your website. But as you’re assuring your audiences of the steps you’re taking to maintain their security and your solvency, look, too, for opportunities to allay basic human fears and to support the needs people may be experiencing right now. Brands like Madewell have been uniquely thoughtful and transparent since the outbreak, going as far as to say, basically, “hey — we’re still figuring out the best virtual team meeting platform, too. Let us know if you have tips.” They’re committed to being a place to “inspire you and to encourage you” and started using the hashtag “everydaytogether.” Your industry may dictate the level of formality you need in your writing, but remember that in every industry, it’s a human being behind each and every clickthrough.


  1. Know your time and your place: In times like these, it’s critical to be extra sensitive to where humor may fall flat or, worse, offend. If you’re even on the fence regarding an attempt at humor, shut it down. Likewise, your audience is smart and will see through any opportunistic messages like a subject line that reads, “Now’s the time for a travel deal.” If you’re promoting certain products, be mindful of what people might need right now. Hint: It’s likely not new Easter outfits for the whole family or a paintball or laser tag promotion. Think about the behaviors that your audience is likely adjusting to and what goods or services might be most important to them right now.


The world will turn again, and together we’ll pick up the pieces when that happens. In the meantime, be a brand that stands out as empathetic and tactful - plus one that truly adds value for your most loyal customers and the community at large.