Under normal circumstances there are very few times in a person’s life when they’re open to changing brand loyalty: New parents transitioning from life without kids are typically the most open to changing their brand loyalty and shopping habits. But in recent months, demand for certain products (like hand sanitizer and toilet paper) surged, leaving some household name brands missing from the grocery shelves. Things aren’t exactly normal right now. And brands who have made even modest efforts to adapt and communicate during these unprecedented times have a unique opportunity to shift customer shopping habits—building brand loyalty that will likely pay off for years to come.
Forming New Attachments
Most people don't go into their wedding planning process thinking about brand loyalty—and I certainly didn't go into my wedding planning process anticipating a pandemic. But as I worked to adapt our May wedding for these unique times, I started to reflect on brand loyalty.
About two weeks before the wedding, I received a package of makeup products from Arch, a local beauty boutique. I had reached out to them (via their Instagram channel) after realizing all of my wedding day and pre-wedding hair and makeup appointments were cancelled, to see if they'd be willing to help me figure out what makeup I needed for my special day. They did me one (or two) better! They took the time to help me figure out what products would help me achieve the look I was going for; they sent some nice gifts including a handwritten note and "tissues for happy tears;" and they provided a video tutorial for me so that I was all set for my big day.
It should be noted that - prior to my wedding - I had never been to Arch before; but from now on, I'll be going to go to them for all of my makeup needs. And I've stopped considering my current salon for those types of services.
No E-commerce Site? Don’t Despair.
Businesses, large and small, that have made efforts to communicate and adapt to doing at least a small part of their business online are likely to gain new customers and build their loyalty. Small efforts can yield significant results.
Some businesses, like a local gift shop, don't have a full ecommerce site built out, but were able to do live videos or Instagram posts showcasing their products, and invited their customers to do "personal shopping" via Facetime, as well as contactless pickup.
In branding, feelings play a big role in the development of brand equity. Think about how television advertising works: When you're first getting to know a company or product, heart-strings and humor can play a big role in whether a certain product or company first grabs your attention. Positive feelings matter in the attachments that we form, and the loyalty we develop, to brands.
I'd walk through fire for our minster (and our faith community), who promised me we'd figure out a way to get married on time, even if we had to adapt what our ceremony looked like. We drove out of our way to do curbside pickup from a wine shop that helped us, via a quick email exchange, pick out budget-friendly sparkling wine from France, where our honeymoon was supposed to take place.
Communicate, Even When Things Aren’t Perfect
My husband's already-purchased-wedding-day suit is still stuck in a locked down men's suit chain, and communication never happened. Despite the fact that many retail shops have re-opened, we still (in mid-June) don’t know when we’ll see that suit.
And while some customers are always going to be unhappy about external factors that are beyond a business’s control, for many others a sincere apology and basic explanation of the circumstances goes a long way. That suit shop has lost our business for good, and likely the business of our friends and family as well.
My husband's wedding ring, which we found out also wasn't going to be done on time, was another matter. The small business making the ring communicated at each step in the process about what was happening—what stage of production the ring was in, whether there was a chance they could get it to us, and then, as stay-at-home orders were extended, a kind offer to send an in-stock replacement ring in case they couldn’t get it to us on time. (The original ring magically appeared in our mailbox on our way out the door to the church).
For our clients, we invite them to consider the opportunities presented at this unique moment in time to foster relationships with customers that will pay off for many years to come. It's not about being perfect, it's about being present.
Some faith communities who offer online services and programs have reported an increase in viewership and participation in online programming since “stay at home” orders were put in place. In times of crisis, people often naturally turn to faith communities for comfort, strength, and hope.
But along the convenience of watching a service online comes the threat that members are also “shopping around.” Maybe they’re virtually visiting their hometown church or temple. But they may also be taking some time to experience other communities in your area to see what’s the best fit for their, or their families’, needs.
While you shouldn’t panic, this presents an opportunity to reflect on how well you’re meeting your congregants’ needs and gather feedback from them using a temple or church survey.
What to Ask
Here are some ideas of questions that you might ask:
Reflecting on feedback, you will be able to identify gaps in programming more successfully, identify misperceptions that might need to be corrected, address difficulties that are creating barriers to participation, or program ideas that better speak to your congregation’s needs during this time.
This might include shifting fundraising events online, holding faith services via Zoom, or finding ways to offer formerly in-person programs via a virtual format. For example, you might get the feedback that people miss socializing with each other and offer something beyond services that is fun and interactive—like a family-friendly sing-a-long or all-ages bingo game on Facebook Live. You might discover that folks are seeking reflective time, such as a meditation group, or are looking for ways to continue social justice work while social distancing.
Keep in mind that the needs of different members will vary, so you might choose to talk to a sample of members across age groups. The needs of young families, for example, may be different than the needs of teens in a youth group, or seniors.
How to Ask – Temple or Church Survey
Here are a few simple ways to gather feedback on how people are feeling about your community’s mission and programming.
#1 Make a Few Phone Calls
A phone call or video chat can be an effective way to quickly reach out to select members to gather some feedback. When gathering feedback, consider reaching out to people across a few generations.
It’s also to stay in touch with congregants who are less tech savvy and perhaps feeling isolated at this time. For example, Interfaith Volunteers, a faith-based nonprofit located in Minnesota, has pulled in additional people to offer phone all check-ins for local seniors who may be feeling particularly lonely or scared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
#2 Email a Survey
Surveys can be a great way to collect both qualitative and quantitative data that assesses the needs of your community members.
SurveyMonkey is a free and easy-to-use online tool that lets you create, send, and analyze questions. Other popular tools include Google Forms, Survey Gizmo, and SoGoSurvey.
Of course, a survey is only as good as its response rates, so here are some tips for getting congregants complete your survey:
#3 Social Media Check-Ins
Another way to check in with congregants is to ask questions on social media. This enables followers to respond to your post and to each other, which can help you gain insight while also encouraging community engagement.
Ben Vorspan, the Creative/Communications Director for Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA, wrote about his experience shifting everything from services to website copy to be 100% accessible via phone. From their Facebook page, he has helped the temple host Bat Mitzvahs on Facebook Live, conducted check-ins with daily “Sundown Shares,” and promoted community events like virtual bonfires and streamed music from temple musicians.
In Boulder City, CO, Christian Center Church and other faith organizations are using social media not only to provide programming to congregants, but also to check-in via social media to assess how church members are handling social distancing and if there are specific supports they may need.
The nonprofit Hi, How Are You Project is using the month of May to improve awareness of mental health and encourage interaction by encouraging members to take a pledge to ask those in their community “Hi, how are you?” via social media as a way of checking-in and acknowledging the importance of mental wellbeing.
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If you’re unsure how to adjust your messaging on your social media channels or feel like you could use a little assistance strategizing how best to use your social platforms (or just get some support keeping things running smoothly), feel free to reach out to us for help.
Also - keep in mind that we offer free, 30-minute consultation slots weekly for nonprofits and faith organizations, where you can ask questions about marketing, Zoom, SEO and more. Nonprofit organizations can sign up here. Faith organizations can sign up here.
'Tis the season for event planning, but how do you plan an event when donors are sheltering in place? Crossroads Fund is a public foundation that supports nonprofits and groups in the Chicagoland area working on social, economic and racial justice.
The transformation of their popular annual "Seeds of Change" spring gala into a vibrant online celebration--complete with DJs and awards--offers a great example of how to pivot from a traditional offering to an online format that is still full of celebration (and still meets fundraising goals).
Here are our 5 top tips for moving events online.
#1: Cross-Promote the Event Across Platforms
Crossroads Fund decided to move their one-night event into a weeklong Zoom celebration with an online silent auction, live DJ sets, and dance party--and were successful in raising $135,000 (and counting).
âTheir online event captured the joy of their annual in-person event, which is both a fundraiser and a social gathering, bringing the feel of a venue-based party to a digital space.
The foundation took advantage of many social media platforms in their communication about the event, including Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, your Facebook and Instagram news feeds, and Facebook event pages.
#2: Elevate People Who Honor Your Mission
Facebook Live gave Crossroads Fund a way to celebrate award-winners in real time. Awardees help attendees get fired up to carry on the fight for social justice, and to open their wallet to support this important work.
Award-winners are often a key driver of connection for the event and can help motivate a decision to give.
#3: Create an Easy-to-Remember Landing Page URL & Use a Virtual Hashtag on Every Post
Crossroads Fund's easy-to-remember landing page URL was a key for driving action off of the social posts related to the gala. By driving all event-related activity to one landing page, they made it simpler for their audience to respond to their main call to action: Donate.
They also created a hashtag for their virtual event, #virtualseeds, which empowered all participants to spread the word. This type of tagging builds brand recognition and creates a ripple effect that can hook new viewers into learning more, or participating.
#4: Deploy Consistent Visual Branding Across Social Media Channels
Crossroads Fund did an excellent job keeping its eye-catching images consistent across the many social media channels it utilized for the event. Their decision to choose bold colors and use consistent fonts, images, and messaging that were clear helped donors quickly and easily identify their event and stay alert to new information.
#5: Tap Into Staff, Board, and Others to Create Compelling Appeals
One of the most compelling opportunities that social media presents us with is the opportunity to speak in a direct and personal way about the causes that are so important to us, and to make personal requests to give.
Crossroads Fund's staff, board, and host committee made compelling, direct appeals through pre-recorded video and participation in the nightly Zoom celebration. Their stories helped attendees feel more engaged and put familiar faces front and center.
What We're Reading
Not sure how to adapt or promote your spring fundraiser? We can provide remote consulting--and help you strategize how to work remotely with staff and volunteers.
Crossroads Fund is offering a Virtual Fundraising Grassroots Webinar, scheduled for May 5, 2020, where they'll share what they learned from their Seeds for Change event.
Here are some of our favorite resources you can peruse for ideas on moving your event online:
Learn more about our services on our website. Nonprofits and faith organizations can also sign up for a free 30-minutes consultation to get help with marketing, Zoom, SEO and more. Nonprofit organizations can sign up here. Faith organizations can sign up here.
Faith communities can play an important role in troubling times and both video streaming technology and social media are playing an important role in helping people stay connected.
This week, I’ve been impressed about how my own community, First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI adapted quickly to not only do collaborative “streaming” services with other Madison-area UUs, but to also offer meditation groups via Zoom, bedtime stories, parent check-ins, singing, “knit ins”, children’s music time and spiritual education, virtual campus ministry, and even virtual coffee hours.
Taking Small Groups Online, Not Just Services
Here's an example from the events calendar of Mishkan Chicago, a Synagogue that has a vibrant online community:
Not Connected? Band Together, Or Use Hybrid Internet-Phone Tools like Zoom
Banding together with other local faith communities can help less-connected meetings, synagogues, and congregations stay connected even where Wi-Fi is a bit sparse.
Tools like Zoom offer phone dial-in options as well for folks who can’t get connected via a computer.
So what about "lifecyle" events? Weddings, b'mitzvahs, and the like?
I can speak from personal experience: My fiancé and I, who were planning a wedding and honeymoon for mid-May, have also had to adapt and we're glad that our faith community has as well.
We did our pre-marital counseling and ceremony planning with our minister online last weekend, and moving our cancelled wedding shower online – with the added bonus of enabling us to invite friends and family from all over the country.
Here are some of the other resources for faith communities that we’ve come across this week:
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