By Jenny Mitchell
We are in the middle of one of the most historic events of our time. Each day, the news is saturated with reports of sickness, economic decline, lockdowns and unemployment. Every business has felt the impact of this crisis – loss of revenue, furloughed employees, cancelled plans and disrupted business models. Without hesitation, companies have been forced to make decisions that will change the trajectory of their future.
However, because of the dedication and sacrifice we are making for one another, we are turning a corner. We are flattening the curve. And while every brand’s challenges are unique, we all have one thing in common. We must start planning our comeback.
What will the post-pandemic landscape look like? It is impossible to predict the lasting impacts, but COVID-19 is sure to leave an indelible mark on every aspect of life. As a result, picking up where you left off with your marketing is not prudent. As you start to map out your new marketing strategy, keep the following factors in mind.
Consumer Behavior Modifications
A switch was flipped, and our society began operating almost entirely virtually. We were primed, the infrastructure was in place, but overnight consumers and businesses were forced to adopt a new way of functioning. Now that we know what is possible, there is no question that some of these trends will become the new normal – either because of convenience and efficiency or because of lingering fear.
The fear that COVID-19 has created is perhaps the most influential factor for the shift in consumer behavior. Fear for the health and safety of ourselves and loved ones. Fear of unemployment and financial instability. Fear of not having access to basic commodities and food. Fear of economic downturn and recession. This fear has and will continue to change the way consumers and businesses consume media and spend money.
- Consider how these adapted behaviors might impact your product or service.
- Evaluate and adjust your offering to meet expectations.
- Tailor messaging to be relevant and speak to new perceptions and motivations.
- Shift budgets and tactics to ensure they are aligned with these trends.
The world was already heavily digitally focused, and this influx of increased usage will create new consumer expectations. Every brand should examine their digital presence through a new lens. It starts with your web site, social platforms, and digital advertising, but should go beyond that. What content and interaction will elicit a response from your audience? Are there new ways you can engage them virtually?
With less in-person connection, develop new methods of outreach and engagement that create a positive brand experience for consumers. When exploring new tactics, make selections that are congruent not just with your audience demographic, but also your brand personality and offering. If applicable, consider tactics that have a propensity to drive online sales. Opportunities might include virtual events, webinars, podcasts, group Slack channels, Facebook Live, Twitter Q&As, e-books, virtual tours, etc. While not new, these concepts may become a bigger part of your strategy if consumers are required or choose to remain socially distant.
Test, Measure, Learn, Refine
It is impossible to predict what the marketplace might look like when we get to the other side of this crisis. However, do not let uncertainty put a halt on your planning. Invest in low-risk tactics to test the effectiveness of the medium and your messaging. Keep a pulse on performance and rely on data and analytics to make informed decisions. This will allow you to learn what resonates with your audience before going live with tactics that require more resources.
In uncertain times, it often feels safe to stand still, hunker down and weather the storm. The brands with the biggest wins are those that are already rethinking and responding. No one has experience in this space – be bold, be strategic, and start planning your next move now.
-Jenny Mitchell is director of Strategy & Operations at Vimarc in Louisville, Kentucky.