Mike Kotlyar discusses why brands must recognise and understand human emotion in times of stress and uncertainty.

The last few weeks have been very different to normal, so here are a couple of observations around marketing in these times. I have seen lots of advice on comms, but my analogy is about being more humanistic because stress, uncertainty and fear are human emotions and I think brands MUST show they understand these emotions at a time like this.

Be honest and authentic. This is the big one, our audience is stressed and concerned, they will be less tolerant of sales pitches and their bullshit detectors will be set to high - did I mention they will be stressed?

Make sure your messages are clear, honest and human, and above all, true to your brand. Your brand traits need to show through in all your messaging.

"There are already brands that have been accused of profiteering and endangering the public by wanting to stay open or seeming to manoeuvre within the guidelines. Amazon has apparently removed a vast number of products off their site because they felt they were leveraging off consumer fear and uncertainty. Doing that shows integrity and builds longer-term trust versus short term. Taking off my marketing hat - I do not want to support these brands after this is all over."

Don't overcook the comms. Choose when you need to send an update to your database. Too many contacts could mean a higher unsubscribe rate or a backlash.

"Remember you're not the only message in their inbox."

Be helpful and real. Send them stuff that is useful about the continuity of supply, new ways of ordering etc... and less "we are all in this together" - no sh*t, Sherlock. Don't copy and paste on COVID -19 like I have seen so many companies do in an attempt to imply authority. Just insert links (if you must) and recognise lots of others are doing this so it's hard to stand out.

"And don't re-share stuff that has been floating around unless you think it will be of real benefit to your audience."

Digital, digital and digital - review your existing online communication. Make sure anything you have pre-planned digitally is still relevant. Otherwise, kill it!

Stats are suggesting online usage is skyrocketing - you have a good channel to build awareness and longer-term engagement. Now is the time to make sure your digital footprint is in good shape. BUT remain genuine!

Your customers are already on social media, but these days much more frequently. Positive and useful content is good. Consider increasing your posting frequency to ensure you're showing up in news feeds.

Test now so you create and maintain a strong digital awareness, but monitor analytics (and comments) to check if you have gauged the tone of your messages correctly.

A good time for retention and loyalty - probably not selling stuff. Now is not the time to sell more unless you are a vital provider. Focus on keeping your loyal customers informed.

Everyone is scrambling, and everyone is working hard to keep the wheels turning. Don't just tell them how you and your team are navigating these ever-changing times (I think I have seen this in about six comms already today) but if you can, offer something of value that can help them right now. Q&A's about your business, schedules, contacts details, operating hours etc.

"Above all be genuine, know you are building an impression of your brand beyond the next few months. Just like people brands need to step up in a crisis and show who they really are."