Consumers are engaging with brands in whole new ways, contends a Red Havas white paper released today, and it’s time for brands to respond by getting more personal. People today are craving connection, and they expect companies to communicate with them in the ways they prefer and on the issues they care about most. The report is called “Rethinking B2B and B2C: A Case for Person-to-Person (P2P) Communications.” “B2B and even B2C brands haven’t always connected with their customers on a human level,” said James Wright, global CEO of Red Havas, and global chairman of Havas PR Global Collective. “But people right now want a deeper connection, to have their needs and humanity recognized. Regardless of the sector or service, people expect more from brands and want a customized experience tailored to their needs. We have seen this shift across our clients globally—which provided the basis for P2P communications and is now a key focus for our teams as we look at strategy and planning for 2021.” In this latest work, we lay out four rules of engagement for brands to communicate in this new environment:
- Prove your purpose. Consumers today, especially in the younger demographics, don’t want to see brands just looking out for themselves but banding together where possible to serve a greater purpose. With easy access to news and social posts that reveal a company’s every move, consumers are watching—and in many cases doing their homework—to make sure they are supporting brands that are in line with their values. Brands can prove their purpose by taking a public stand on the societal issues most directly related to their business and taking helpful, tangible actions to join others in working toward shared goals.
- Engage through EGC. User-generated content or UGC is a cost-effective way to create quality content, but brands should realize that their employees also are some of their most effective spokespeople. Too often underutilized as brand ambassadors, employees are a powerful voice for advocating a company’s purpose and products. Content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared through branded channels, and employee posts get reshared up to 24 times more than branded posts.
- Play up partnerships. Smart brands are not only leaning into their existing partnerships but expanding the definition of the word to include influencers. These newer voices can become authentic champions for brands, and they have the advantage of scalability: Large consumer brands may be able to partner with mega-influencers commanding millions of eyeballs, while small companies can tap nano-influencers to reach a niche audience. Either way, this is a proven strategy to inform, educate and excite consumers.
- Elevate experiential. Physical experiences have been hard to pull off in the grip of the pandemic, but that just means consumers crave them all the more. While the crisis continues, hybrid events, which merge the physical and the digital, are an opportunity to provide the best of both while still keeping everyone safe. And even virtual-only has its advantages: These events can draw huge audiences, keep the best aspects of an in-person event and still provide a feeling of togetherness.