How marketing strategies need to change during COVID-19
When it comes to an industry that is continually in a state of change, marketing takes the cake. The longer you have been in the marketing industry the more changes you have surely witnessed and will continue to do so over the years to come. As a marketer during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the changes aren’t coming, they’re here. There’s an unprecedented nature to these changes in the marketing industry. Unlike when changes happen on platforms like Google where there’s clear and direct information on those changes as well as data to offer direction on how to adjust your marketing accordingly, there’s no book on how to market during a pandemic like COVID-19. This article will help to make a few things clearer.
How Consumerism Will Look After COVID-19
COVID-19 has impacted everyone in a level way; it has caused our priorities to shift. A disjointed society and the “everyone for themselves” mentality have been replaced, possibly for good. The fast moving global spread of this single virus has underscored not only how connected we all are, but how everyone’s actions effect each other. As we continue to “stay home together” and sacrifice for “our fellow man” the individualism we may have once had is no more.
Following the Leaders
If you don’t believe that the consumer’s mindset has changed, see how leading brands have pushed this message of “alone but together” in a mask-faced society. Brands work hard to maintain their social messages of togetherness and their in-person social distancing mandates, simultaneously. Consumer safety continues to be present, almost to a point of self-preservation, as consumers hold strong on their desires to feel safe when they leave their homes.
One thing that’s become apparent is that consumers want to feel like brands understand with them. Creating this connection isn’t as simple though, as the definition of the work has evolved as rapidly as the coronavirus has spread. Marketers are working to establish this connection in a fast approaching post-pandemic era. There are a few things we have learned along the way that may be useful in making that connection.
1. Be Genuine About Humility & Empathy
The vast majority of people in the United States feel quite vulnerable in the wake of this virus. The bubbles we once believed we lived in are a thing of the past. Your brand should put forth the efforts you have made to help consumers stay safe, without being exploitative. Make public promises to your consumer that you will be able to deliver upon. Just remember, the focus must be on the consumer benefits of your service in these uncertain times.
2. Tell Your Brand’s Story From the Heart
Consumers will remember your brand for how you acted during this time of crisis. And they will always remember you fondly when your acts have been done with a genuine heart and generosity. Even a small act of generosity will make a lasting impact in the hearts of consumers. Being a pure capitalist at this time will forever leave an impact as well, just not a positive one. One thing consumers are being right now is understanding, but this too will fade with time. Over time they will again begin to expect brands to have their “act” together, allowing for only slight margins of error. This is already being seen in terms of healthcare and product availability. The challenge here is authenticity. It is up to the brand to show that their contributions are material and not solely for commercial benefit.
3. Staying a Step Ahead
In such a rapidly evolving consumer atmosphere staying a step ahead right now means a lot of looking around. Look at the market, and keep an eye out. Take notice of even the slightest changes within the market. Here are some items that you can keep at the front of your mind to watch for.
- How are my competitors changing to protect consumers?
- What products or services are increasing/decreasing in demand?
- How can I help the top needs I hear about from my customer base?
- How can I change my business to lessen the burden of my community?
- Is there a way I can adapt my business to enhance my offering?
When you look at the landscape and consider these questions the hope is that you are able to fill what would otherwise be a gap in need. Whether it’s one you can generate revenues from or one that could generate loyalty, all that matters is that you are looking at the bigger picture, and how you fit inside.
4. Become More Agile in Offerings
Marketing to a captive audience means more outlets are being consumed. As consumers are kept indoor they are looking at more media channels than ever, with an increased engagement and relevance never before seen. There have been resurgence where platforms were previously seeing downturns. One of the biggest swings is broadcast and cable television among other premium media sources. This is attributed towards a desire for credible news platforms, for example.
Watching the mix of actual media platforms used by consumers changing so quickly has lead many marketers to modifying their media mix. A change we highly recommend considering now, and most likely in the near future. Digital entertainment is spiking and now is the time to amplify the use of ad-supported premium video streaming and mobile gaming. Some brands shy away from news outlets, but there’s no denying the engagement in this environment currently. While the move is well warranted, remember to be cautious of creative being over-exposed, damaging brand equity as a result.
Beyond the Pandemic are Possibilities
As the virus persists and the long awaited 5G rolls out, the remote office and distance learning options may be here to stay, and so may be consumer behaviors and media source consumption. One thing is for certain, consumer priorities have shifted. Marketing strategies need to reflect that change accordingly. Coming into the autumn season in 2020 we are in the acknowledge-and-adapt phase of this COVID-19 pandemic. What matters most is dealing with things head on while looking to an uncertain future. Planning for multiple scenarios will be necessary, while every plan created must remain flexible for the unknown factors.
The inevitable acceleration of the digital transformation agenda has helped us to all realize how easily our society embraced being employees, students, and consumers almost entirely in a digital world. Every brand has had to pivot into this new mentality, new operation, and unprecedented way of conducting business. While your brand continues their journey down this unplanned path be sure to keep aware of the following:
- Think realistically from the outside-in to reduce risks to the customer experience.
- Embrace digital work and customer connections, as permanent.
- Understand and triage the impact of business interruption and the unexpected.
Striking a balance between your brand’s story, consumer safety, and selling your goods is more challenging than ever. Now is not the time for snappy slogans and taglines. Consumers know things are challenging, and that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but they want their money to mean something. At this point during this COVID-19 pandemic cycle people want something to fill their void, and are willing to connect with others filling theirs. Find that something, and put effort into it. Then convey that journey to the consumer in a meaningful way.