As of this writing, I doubt that humans have ever faced more uncertainty.
Nothing like this has happened in over a century. When the Spanish flu ravaged the world, the global population was smaller and less connected to one another. Back in 1918, there were fewer than 2 billion people, most of whom lacked any regular access to reliable sources of news. Today, there are nearly 8 billion people, most of whom are by now well aware of the pandemic. Yet, as we know, ‘awareness’ does not equal ‘understanding.’ Refreshing news headlines throughout the day reinforces our awareness of the growing healthcare and economic threats. But without any frame of reference, we still struggle to understand what’s happening.
Understanding happens at many different levels. There’s understanding at the physical and concrete level, e.g. how the coronavirus infects human cells. There’s understanding at an emotional level, e.g. what’s the impact on ourselves, our loved ones and friends. And there’s understanding at a behavioral level: What are people doing now, what have they stopped doing, and what might they be doing differently in the future?
As we struggle to get our minds around a fast-changing present, we face even more uncertainty around the future. Only weeks ago, we each could feel generally confident in making assumptions about what the coming months and years would look like. But today, it feels like most bets are off. How on earth are we supposed to think and plan ahead?
Start by Asking Questions
Any attempt to think about the future must begin with asking questions. Your audience may be just as uncertain about the present and future as you, but engaging them about their own fears, anxiety, ideas, needs, and future goals will generate invaluable data and insights, which can better inform your strategy for restarting when the crisis recedes. Examples include:
Take the Temperature
Regardless of the audience you’re targeting (clients/customers, employees, prospects/leads, business partners, etc.), people want to be engaged—especially now that most are on lockdown at home all day. Skip the cloying platitudes (“we’re all in this together…”) or stating the obvious (“in these times of uncertainty…”) and craft questions that surface what they’re feeling. If relevant, ask them how your products and services can help or alleviate what they’re going through. Surface what their needs are and use that data to guide your decision-making.
Establish a Baseline
Ironically, this weird stasis that we’re in provides a great opportunity to take stock. Engage your audience and stakeholders and find out what they really think about your brand, products, and services. What else do they need or want? What would they change? Move beyond the survey and harness the ideas and energy of your audience.
Finally, give your audience a stake in your organization’s future. Wartime metaphors are often overused in times of crisis; but in this case, you actually do have an army at your disposal. Humans love sharing their ideas and especially in times of isolation, they like to feel that they’re a part of something. Make that ‘something’ your brand. Solicit their ideas on how your organization can move forward. What do they want to see in what will inevitably be a very different world that emerges from this?
You may just find out the answers to all of this uncertainty lie right with a few simple questions. Let us know how CredSpark can help. There’s one we’re certain of: audience engagement and insights will play a fundamental role in whatever future emerges.