Time to engage: creating value for you and your customers at home

March 20, 2020

Kids making Cookies

Last week, we discussed the changing needs of consumers stuck at home as they cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, and we identified key questions marketers should be asking as they look for ways to respond.

Now let’s explore the one thing your customers have more of right now than ever before: time.

As we’ve learned through our research into Generation Z, Millennials, and young families in general, time is typically in short supply for them all. Busy modern lives leave precious little time for much of anything. Brands that have seen the most growth with these audiences in recent years have done so largely by creating solutions that address their ever-present lack of time.

But all of a sudden, millions of Americans who never seem to have enough time are now faced with a wealth of it. They’re even stressed out by how best to fill it. We believe brands are uniquely positioned to provide the answers.

Here are five ways marketers can help customers and themselves make the most of this sudden abundance of time in ways that are good for both parties.

1. Time to explore your brand

Marketers are at their best when they think of themselves as storytellers, and for good reason. Many of the brands they serve have deep, engaging stories behind them. The biggest challenge is typically convincing people to take a little of their precious time to hear those stories. That’s not the case now.

Take a look at your catalog of branded content to see what stories you have to share now that your customers have time to consume them. This could include anything from anthem videos to written content. Or consider producing something new that’s timely and relevant, directly from your brand to your customers, such as messages of support during this trying time. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be real.

This is equally true for business to business brands. Their customers are stuck at home as well, stressed about how to best do their jobs right now, wondering how they’ll continue to prove their own value as the economy slows. You can help guide them, and they’ve got plenty of time to listen.

Ask yourself: What deeper stories could you be sharing with your customers that they normally wouldn’t have time for?

2. Time to engage with products in new ways

Time gives people the opportunity to discover new uses for familiar products. As we mentioned earlier, so many successful products are designed in response to a target audience’s lack of time. Now that time is plentiful, how could those same products be used in new ways?

Food brands can offer up kid friendly recipes for parents and their children to make at home as a family activity.  Packaged goods brands can suggest crafts and experiments featuring their products (think back to the Mentos and Diet Coke viral craze of ten years ago). For brands in the health and wellness space, imagine content that can help parents keep their kids active and healthy while stuck at home.

Ask yourself: With people hungry for ways to burn time and keep their families engaged, how can your products provide new solutions?

3. Time to interact and be entertained

Let’s face it, brands have become masters at providing distractions and diversions as a way of garnering the attention of their customers. We’ve game-ified, hash-tagged, and listicled our content to the point where the products themselves are almost secondary. Well, your customers are home right now, seeking amusements and diversions like never before.

This is the time to engage them with fun, snackable content like quizzes, puzzles, and games. Better yet, think of contests with enticing, post COVID-19 rewards. An all-expense paid family trip to that lovely coastal resort once the beaches are open again? Yes, please.

Ask yourself: With people desperate for fun diversions and time killers, what can you create that’ll keep them entertained and interacting with your brand?

4. Time to connect and build community around common interests

One thing that has immediately become evident with so many people stuck at home is the importance of connection and community in our lives. At Slingshot, we’ve responded by bringing our people together via apps like Zoom for occasions such as our weekly Thursday Beer Cart— now in virtual form.

Slingshot On Zoom
Your friends at Slingshot, staying connected while working hard from home.

Some brands, like Peloton, are naturally wired for generating this sort of shared experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join in as well. Think of the aspects of your brand that bind people together. Is it the shared love of a destination? Is it activities like cooking or yoga, or the challenges that come with the industry they work in? Whatever it is that connects them, right now you have the opportunity to reach out and build that community in ways that may mean more to them than ever.

Ask yourself: How can you use this moment to grow the community around your brand?

5. Time to dream of better days ahead

This too shall pass. People everywhere have one eye on the present, and one eye on better days to come. This means they’re spending lots of time online, dreaming about the things they hope to do once life gets back to normal. You should be there, too.

Now more than ever, people will be online, researching, planning, or just dreaming about that next big trip. The same is true for many other aspects of their lives. While folks may not be actively hunting for a new home right now, being stuck in their old one might give them a compelling reason to window shop. Or maybe they're just pondering ways to improve the home they’re in today. Whatever people are dreaming about, smart brands will be there, right now, helping to light the way.

Ask yourself: Is there anything you can provide that can fulfill people’s unmet wants and wishes? Can you help them dream? Because they’ve got time for it.

The common denominator among all of these suggestions is, again, time. Know that your audience has tons of it right now, just waiting to be filled with something meaningful and rewarding. Something, perhaps, from you.

And if you’d like to collaborate on ways to engage your customers right now, we’re always ready to make time for you.