The BLD Blog

A collection of building materials marketing trends and insights focused on helping building product manufacturers BLD their brand.

Communicating with Customers in the Coronavirus Era

image of a person using a tablet

Article Date: March 25, 2020

For BPMs, A Changing Dynamic Requires Clarity and Flexibility

By Jeff Donaldson, senior vice president of PR & content marketing at BLD Marketing

In a matter of weeks, the world has changed dramatically.

The coronavirus pandemic has altered our daily lives, caused supermarket shelves to go bare and induced fear and anxiety across the country. Restaurants and stores are closed. Travel restrictions are in place. We are concerned about the safety of our family, our friends and our communities.

At the same time, your company has undoubtedly had to face the new reality, particularly now that the changing paradigm includes restrictions on building product manufacturers (BPMs) in some parts of the country.

You’ve likely been compelled to ask and answer timely and relevant questions about your operations:

  • How can we remain responsible by following the guidelines concerning social distancing and still conduct business?
  • How will “work from home” impact our business and our ability to serve our customers? Who can and should work remotely? Who can’t?
  • How is this going to affect our business in the short term and long term?
  • Can we deliver building products and consultative service to our customers on a timely basis without interruption?
  • If their projects are delayed because we have had to slow – or shut down – our production lines, what kind of long-term impact might this have?

Truth is, the situation changes on a daily basis, and answers to the above questions will also continue to evolve, especially as local, state and federal authorities continue to tighten restrictions. 

Effective communication with your prospects and customers in this era of uncertainty is absolutely essential. Here are some tips to keep your message timely, relevant and impactful:

  • Brevity Above All Else: Keep your communications short and tight. Like everyone, your prospects and customers are being inundated with messages from every brand of every kind about the coronavirus. Distill your message so that it is readily discernible in a few short paragraphs. Venture into a long, drawn-out message, and you’ll likely lose your audience. They’re already processing a ton of information every day.
  • Transparency and Candor: Level with your prospects and customers as to where things stand with your operations. If you do not foresee any interruptions in manufacturing and delivering product, make sure they know. If your supply chain or operations might be interrupted, offer them a clear message on what you foresee and how it will impact them. Outline and deliver specifics where you can, but focus on tangible examples of how you plan to assess and manage the situation. This will show you are on top of everything. By doing so, you instill confidence and trust at a time when both are at a premium.
  • Flexibility: Any communication to prospects or customers should build in some cushion and flexibility that enables you to update them should circumstances change, particularly since the situation across the nation is evolving by the day and the hour. Referring to a government announcement or the news of the day dates your message, which could literally make it irrelevant before it arrives in your customer’s inbox. Focus on your overall approach to managing the situation on behalf of your business as a BPM, and restate your commitment to your customers about being communicative throughout the crisis.
  • Remain Accessible: Customers will have questions, because their business relies on your business to thrive and drive revenue and profitability. Tell your customers that you are available and accessible for questions or concerns. And, make sure you make good on this promise.

In our business and personal lives, relationships are often solidified when two parties work together to deal with and overcome difficult challenges.

In the coronavirus era, BPMs that make a commitment to regular, timely and relevant communication with their customers will demonstrate that they are prepared to weather this crisis and come out on the other end even stronger than they are now. 

About the Author:

Jeff Donaldson is senior vice president of PR and content marketing for BLD Marketing. A communications professional with 30 years of experience, he has held senior-level communications and marketing positions for nearly 20 years. This includes stints at a global PR agency, a global engineering firm, a top-rated privately held agency and a private college. He specializes in strategic planning, core messaging, media relations, organizational and executive communications, crisis communications and media training. Jeff has planned and executed multi-faceted programs for a number of brands in the building and construction space, and his work has won numerous industry awards. Before his time in PR and marketing, Jeff spent more than a decade as a TV and radio news anchor and reporter and won six Associated Press awards for outstanding reporting. 

BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.