Biz Tips: 5 Strategies to Market to Frontline Workers—Now, and Beyond the Pandemic

Biz Tips: 5 Strategies to Market to Frontline Workers—Now, and Beyond the Pandemic

Biz Tip:

5 Strategies to Market to Frontline Workers—Now, and Beyond the Pandemic

Since COVID-19, marketers have had to quickly pivot, and one new approach that’s working well is marketing to healthcare workers—the nurses, doctors, and first responders on the front lines of the pandemic. When you turn your marketing efforts to build relationships with this “consumer tribe,” not only are you reaching an often overlooked group of consumers with disposable income, but you’re also supporting a community deserving of gratitude, support, and a little something extra.

The question is, how exactly should you market to them?

The best way to get the attention of frontline workers is to create an offer just for them: in a survey of frontline workers, we learned that almost half of nurses would purchase from a brand they had never shopped with before if they received a special offer from the company.

For instance, FabFitFun recently provided a free Healthcare Heroes bundle. Headspace is offering free access to its online meditation app to help healthcare professionals alleviate stress. And, The North Face recognizes the dedication and bravery of healthcare workers by giving them a 50% discount.

There’s no question that marketing to this population is the right thing to do. It turns out, it’s also good for business. One apparel brand recently launched an offer for healthcare workers and first responders and on the first day more than 100,000 consumers redeemed it, resulting in nearly $2 million in sales.

To replicate similar results and drive demand, while also building loyalty during this difficult time, here are five strategies you can use to create and execute an offer to frontline workers.

  1. Find members of the tribe. There are a variety of ways to discover frontline workers interested in your offer. Start by sharing the offer with your existing customer via email as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media channels where your company is active. Let your customers know that, for those who are frontline workers, you are providing a special offer. And for those who aren’t? Encourage them to pass the offer on to eligible frontline workers they know.
  2. Give frontline workers what they want. As a group, our survey revealed that frontline workers are most drawn to personalized offers that provide tangible value, like free shipping, 20% off a particular product or service, and “buy one, get one free.” It’s also important to note which promotions this group didn’t find compelling. Less than a third of frontline workers were interested in getting upgraded loyalty status and additional customer service.
  3. Be authentic in your messaging. When creating copy for the offer, use messaging that’s rooted in the values of your brand and that also aligns with the specific group you’re trying to reach—in this case, frontline workers. Headspace is a company that “gets” this group, which is apparent from this language it included in its offer: “We’re offering all US healthcare professionals who work in public health settings free access to Headspace Plus through 2020. What’s going on right now is a challenge for everyone. But you, our healthcare professionals, are particularly overburdened. Headspace wants to be here for you and support you as best we can. Helping you be kind to yourself, and your own health, during this difficult time.” Headspace recognizes the challenges that frontline workers are facing during the pandemic. And equally (if not more) importantly, they use language that’s rooted in the company’s core values “to improve the health and happiness of the world.” When your brand values are imbued in the offer, it strengthens the authenticity of the offer, which strengthens the relationship you’re building with each customer.
  4. Tie your campaign to your loyalty program. If you offer a loyalty program, you can use it to both identify frontline workers and promote the offers you create. Lowe’s provides an interesting example in terms of the way in which it courts members of another consumer tribe—active military and veterans. When a consumer signs up for the myLowe’s loyalty program, the company asks if they’re part of the military community. Lowe’s then digitally verifies the consumer’s military status and ties it to their user account, giving military customers 10% off online and in-store purchases. Lowe’s also uses the data they collect to further engage military customers with exclusive monthly promotions just for this community. Lowe’s has found that the special offers it runs for the military get two to three times the level of engagement of their next-best performing program.
  5. Protect your offer. Once you begin to gain traction with a particular group of consumers, you’ll discover that the special offer gains a life of its own. Consumer tribes have strong networks that take pride in supporting each other—particularly in this time of crisis. If they find your offer compelling, they’ll spread it like wildfire: 95% of frontline workers hardest hit by the pandemic share a personalized offer with others in their profession. A word of caution: you’ll need to verify that the people who claim to be frontline workers are indeed members of the profession. Verification ensures the integrity of the offer in the eyes of these professionals because they know the offer is truly exclusive to them. Verification also protects a company’s margins by preventing discount abuse. Ideally, you or a technology partner will have the capability to do verifications digitally to avoid having to allocate significant employee hours to doing the verifications manually.

This year has brought everyone’s attention to frontline workers. But this group of people aren’t only heroes during the pandemic. The work they do will always matter and should be recognized both in this moment as well as into the future. And, when you provide this group of consumers the opportunity to get an exclusive deal on your offering, you put yourself in a great position to drive both short-term sales as well as long-term relationships that will continue to pay dividends for both the community and your business.

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