FlipMyFunnel Post

How to Build Brand Loyalty in the Midst of a Crisis

The most important question you can ask your customers in a crisis: 

How can I help? 

It gives you a chance to do good for others in trying times.

And builds brand loyalty for when the world eventually returns to normal. 

Helping is the new selling. And Jeff Perkins, CMO and Head of Product at ParkMobile, is living proof. 

ParkMobile, an app that lets customers pay for parking over mobile, have been particularly hard-hit by shelter-in-place orders and canceled events. So, Jeff and his team decided to ask how they could help. 

And he joined me on LinkedIn Live to share the answer.

Pivoting in a Pandemic

Jeff: The current pandemic has really created some interesting challenges for us as a business. 

If everyone is sheltering in place, if people aren’t going into urban centers and there are no events, then people aren’t parking. 

That has a significant impact on our business and creates some real challenges. 

Just like for every other business that operates in cities like restaurants and event venues, we’re going through tough times. 

We’re doing all the smart things. We’re reducing expenses and hunkering down to ride the storm.

But we’re very fortunate that we have a lot of resources, so we’ll be able to weather the storm very well. It’s created some challenges, but also some opportunities. 

We’ve thought a lot about this question at Parkmobile: What can we do to give back both to our users and to our clients, the cities that we work with? 

Our consumer strategy right now is to do some good. Let’s help our communities during this time in need. And when things get back to normal, we’ll get back to business as usual.”

And that’s been our focus,  shifting everything we’re doing — which was all about user and client acquisition — to focus on consultative services to our clients and enabling charitable giving for our users.

We’re seeing the transaction volume really fall off a cliff. So, as a marketing team, we wonder: Does it make a lot of sense to build our brand right now or to drive user acquisition? 

Do we want everyone to download the app right now when nobody’s going into city centers to pay for parking? 

We realized that’s probably not the best strategy. It’s not the best use of company funds at this time. 

So we made the decision to ask, ‘Well, how can we help?’ 

How can ParkMobile be part of the solution during the pandemic?

How to Build Brand Loyalty While Giving Back

Jeff: What are the kind of programs you could put in place that will support your customers as they’re dealing with significant business challenges?

The last thing any company should do right now — whatever you sell — is have an aggressive renewal strategy, right? It just feels a bit tone-deaf. 

Instead, as a company, you want to show your clients that you are more interested in their business than your business. 

Every successful salesperson or client success person is one whose clients believe they’re invested in their success. 

Their business is as important as your business. It’s really such a critical mindset right now. 

You also have to be very, very conscious. 

When you’re talking to your clients, many of them are concerned for their jobs. There are layoffs all over right now. 

So, you have to go into every client communication with that in mind. You need to make sure your communication is appropriate for the time. 

As for how we can help, we thought that since we have a lot of people that use our app and we have a lot of organizations in our local communities who could use our support, maybe we could enable our app as a way to donate to causes locally. 

We’re marketing to our users to give to a good cause. And the way they’re able to donate is right through the ParkMobile app. 

“You still want to create interest around what you’re doing, but the more important thing is to pivot a bit to focus on your customers and how you can help.”

They don’t have to go to a separate website and set up an account and go through that whole process. In the ParkMobile app, they already have their username, their credit card payment information. 

So, in just three clicks, they can make $1 donation, they can make a $5 donation up to $50 donation, and then ParkMobile will match a portion of the funds that we raise.

How Your Sales and Customer Service Reps Can Help

Jeff: One thing we just did, we posted a blog on our website about how cities are responding to coronavirus, specifically from a parking perspective. 

We’re seeing some really innovative things like free parking for people going into grab takeout or prescriptions.  

We’re seeing cities turning parking garages into overflow facilities for hospitals now. We’re seeing health care workers get free parking anywhere — they have special permits. 

It’s really interesting. Cities are all saying they’re turning off the meters because they don’t want people touching surfaces. They’re saying only pay by app. 

There are a lot of really innovative things that different cities are doing. 

But they don’t all talk.

So, we’ve tried to push this information out. As an industry, because we work with so many cities, we can share what every city is doing and the best practices across all of our clients. 

“This is the time that relationships are built with your clients — relationships built for life.”

That’s another great way for your sales reps, or your customer success reps, to help during this time — if you’re wondering what they should be doing. 

They should be sharing best practices. They should look across the companies that they work with and say, “Hey, Terminus is doing this really innovative thing you might want to think about doing it right now.” 

That’s the kind of sharing and consultative approach that companies need to take right now, in order to really solidify some of these relationships and add value during this very tough time.

Helping is the New Selling

We’ve said it so many times during this pandemic. But stories like Jeff’s are proving it over and over again. 

Helping is how you build relationships with your customers that last a lifetime. It’s how you build brand loyalty. It’s how you give back.

And it’s what is going to make sure you not only survive but thrive and come out on the other side of the storm better than when you went in. 

So, ask yourself, your customers, your community:

How can I help? 

This is a #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.