Parineeti and I are on the same page
I mean figuratively of course. Parineeti Chopra is telling her readers not to be overconfident and to take adequate precautions. Absolutely. But as marketers and business owners there is that itch to stop hand wringing (and washing) and do something. For a marketer that means running a topical campaign. We’ve seen the first set of (failed) campaigns – the ones from brands that offered discounts and reassurances to get consumers to do stuff like travel and take holidays that are clearly a bad idea in hindsight. But we are also seeing brands that are putting their customers at the center and coming up with win-win offers.

As schools in India are closing early for the summer holidays leaving parents worried, Byju’s the tutoring app is offering free access for a limited period. Sure, they hope some percentage will convert, but meanwhile it is a clear benefit to all.

Cisco’s Webex says it sees traffic on the Webex backbone connecting China-based Webex users to their global workplaces increasing as much as 22 times since the outbreak began and a 7x rise in free sign-ups. So they’re offering more on the free version for a 90 day period. Again, they hope some will convert, but meanwhile they are helping everyone.

As more people want to self-isolate, it’s a great opportunity for anyone with digital delivery or in-home usage to capture new users. Get those who were earlier on the fence to finally trial. This could be anything from online bookings, app consumption, digital banking, home workouts, packaged foods. Many also (involuntarily) have extra time. So it’s a good time to encourage them to catch up on all the things that get put off on a normal workday – working on your financial planning, stock investments (don’t cry), online education, claiming expenses, spring cleaning of apps, investing in productivity tools, bill payments. Someone called me today about a deposit they had asked me to pay in October. Guess what – I’ll finally get round to it today!

What about industries that are directly impacted like tourism and travel? Most people who are going to consume those services in the next one month are doing it because they have to. So you can give them the best possible experience and hope they’ll remember for the next time. For example if Business Class is going empty offer upgrades at ridiculously low prices. Same for suite upgrades. But for the most part, focus on building sales for the future so that you can start strong when this is over. For example I just got a mailer from Hilton offering flexible future bookings – you can postpone or move forward at no additional cost.
I would encourage everyone to do contingency planning. If you have to stay home for a period of time, start putting in plans today. Look at your collaboration app like Slack and ensure everyone knows how to use it. Ensure payments are scheduled and renewal of hosting contracts are in place. Last thing you want is your website going offline because finance hasn’t processed your hosting bill. Figure out what you will pay when employees work from home -is wifi reimbursed? Even as Googlers complained about there being no free lunch when they work from home (seriously), the company assured the canteen and catering staff that they will still get paid.

And that brings me to my last point – be nice to those who have no choice but to work through this, to those who cannot work from home and whose livelihoods are getting impacted. At least give them a smile. And make the workplace as safe as possible.

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