Address Changing Values
The global pandemic we encountered starting in 2020 not only changed how we work, but experts also state it changed our values. For the first time since the Great Depression era, Americans shifted from materialism to frugality, and away from self-centered ambition toward duty. A study by the Zeno Group reported that the values rising most in importance during the pandemic were associated with family, interpersonal relationships, self-sufficiency, honesty, thrift and duty.
This shift may not come as a surprise, but it is something that all companies should consider as we move forward post-pandemic. How and what we communicate is top of mind to all of us. However, this new study should serve as a reminder to not only consider our communication related to COVID-19 and its implications but to other crises as well. In addition, the tone of our marketing and messaging is equally important. According to Therese Caruso, Managing Director of Global Strategy and Insights at Zeno Group, organizations needed to increase their stakeholder listening and demonstrate their sense of responsibility, as well as exhibit greater appreciation for economic hardships created by the pandemic. She noted that companies that offer practical solutions to the new challenges – as opposed to overt marketing – win in the marketplace.
So, how does this apply to us in the B2B space? After all, we aren’t typically communicating with consumers, rather, business to business. While our communication channels look different, it is key to understand that such significant changes in values will permeate our buying patterns overall. It is advised that, as we move through the crisis, communicators must recognize that buyers want the organizations they partner with, or purchase goods and services from, to acknowledge this shift in values. For example, consider sharing with your customers how you are working to streamline the virtual ordering process so that their service isn’t interrupted, without costs increasing. Or outline to employees that you will be developing online training options to better meet the needs of those who remain working remotely. An acknowledgement of the values shift is key to effectively reaching your target audiences.
Another key element of successful messaging as we move through the stages of a crisis is consistency. Most of us quickly tired of crafting the emails with updates on our adapted processes, work from home strategies and commitment to the safety of our clients and employees during the pandemic, but we need to keep this type of messaging coming at a regular interval, no matter the crisis. Consider having a theme for your updates, such as key headings related to operations, sales, etc. Although you don’t have all the answers, share what you know, be transparent about what you don’t know and what you are working on, and when you’ll provide more information. We’ve trained our employees and our customer-base to get updates, so disappearing mid-crisis creates confusion and maybe even a lack of trust.
Staying the course with consistent communication will go a long way in addressing the values shift to honesty and duty.