In an instant Coronavirus, COVID-19 changed our lives and in turn our shopping habits. So how can smart marketers pivot and restructure to successfully respond to dramatically altered consumer buying patterns? And how should marketing strategies evolve as social distancing and remote work become the new normal? To survive during this downturn, marketers need to adopt innovative ideas, be agile, have empathy, and stay resilient! We put together five tips to evolve your marketing strategy in the world of COVID-19.
1. Pro-Actively Anticipate Consumer Needs
Fear of the pandemic and social distancing can cause anxiety, stress, boredom, and a sense of helplessness or loneliness. This makes it crucial to identify individual consumer needs and address them before they become a problem.
All marketing efforts must now be reframed through the lens of COVID-19 and its broader business impact. Businesses like Costco or Albertson’s adjusted shopping hours, curbside pickup, or limiting the number of items a customer can purchase. Companies like Prada and Nike shifted to begin personal protection equipment production which creates a new product line and is sure to leave a lasting impression.
2. Leverage Technology
It has become a challenge to serve customers with limited resources and social distancing constraints. Organizations are over-burdened with rising online orders, stocks running out, prioritizing essentials, and ensuring the health of employees and customers.
Online retailers have taken numerous measures to support customers, employees, and communities. From ramping up fulfillment and delivery hiring to ensuring fair pricing. They are also adjusting delivery options like ‘No-Rush Shipping’ or ‘Unattended Delivery’ to meet customers’ new demands.
Marketers who can increase personalized online connectivity and find ingenious ways to keep services running with quick changes for the crazy new normal will be the ones that make it through this. Customers may not be able to visit your store or restaurant in person. So your goal might be to just stay top of mind and offer online services as much as possible. For example, Mossy Nissan was forced to restrict showroom traffic. However, they quickly launched an Online Power Shopping Tool, offered self-test drives, and no-touch home delivery. Gyms and yoga studios are now offering online training and personalized instruction.
3. Shift Your Media Dollars to Where People are Engaging
People are staying at home, so it makes sense that they are spending more time on their mobile devices and online apps. We have seen huge spikes in the use of OTT streaming platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, for entertainment. Social media sites like TikTok have seen an astronomical surge in users and length of use. And e-commerce portals for shopping have become the number one way to shop.
Although COVID-19 has disrupted some marketing and advertising initiatives, smart brands are keeping their plans fluid and tweaking their ad-spends. The pool of available customers has shrunk. It’s important that brands look at reallocating budgets and ad campaigns accordingly to reach consumers where they are most active.
4. Focus on Customer Experience and Brand Building
During these uncertain times, brands can focus on instilling confidence in customers. Provide them with the means to cope with the situation, furnishing the right information, and going beyond to help customers. Being empathetic and prioritizing customer experience will help your brand stand out and help you build a loyal customer base. It is crucial marketers find innovative ways to ensure their services reach customers. But branding is just as important, which will go a long way in building lasting relationships.
With schools and offices closed, parents are working from home and must also homeschool their kids. Clever marketers are helping reduce some of their stress with fun activities. For example, Mossy Nissan created fun coloring book pages and are posting artwork to their new Mossy Nissan Art Gallery! Disney and Legoland are offering online content like sing-a-longs, recipes, and contests while continuing to keep their brands top of mind. Another great relationship building move is from Audible, who is offering free streaming of stories to entertain and teach children. Even companies like DoubleTree Hotel are fostering goodwill by sharing its “secret” chocolate chip cookie recipe.
5. Transform into a Purpose-Led Brand
Quarantine and “safety at home” measures can help keep people safe and healthy. But do not forget the impact on different age groups. While kids cannot go to schools, the earning group is worried about finances, and seniors who are seemingly the most susceptible to the virus are stressed. Therefore, it is more important to understand how your demographic has changed.
Zappos proactively jumped in with purpose by reallocating resources to provide a public service during COVID-19. The footwear e-tailer launched a “Customer Service Anything Hotline” that people can call for Netflix recommendations or to track down a hard-to-find grocery item. No purchase is necessary. The e-tailer received more than 1,000 calls in its first week of service. This might not produce immediate sales, but it goes a long way to building customer relations and a strong brand.
Reach Beyond Selling Strategies
The current challenge calls for companies to go beyond selling strategies to focus on helping, supporting, and coming together for cause-related purposes. Empathy is important right now. A great example of this is the LPGA when their golf tournaments were canceled. They came up with an idea to turn the focus towards the frontline warriors with their “We Clap Fore You” campaign. On the Show Runner Marketing Podcast Roberta Bowman, LPGA’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer says, “In our sport, the golf clap is a universal sign of respect and appreciation. It is a beautiful sound that we can’t wait to hear. Until then, we wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone on the front lines. To the everyday heroes in our midst, and to our sponsors who have stood with us during this difficult time. On behalf of all of us at the LPGA, #weclapforeyou.”
Survival of The Fittest
Our world has changed and may look quite different after the dust has settled. Hopefully, your marketing teams are strengthening their resolve. Staying on top of trends and demographics, and looking for new ways to keep rolling. With hard work and the right strategy, you may even come out of this stronger and with more loyal customers. Those that adapt and adopt will have a huge competitive advantage over the ones that are simply waiting for things to go back to normal.
No one can predict when this will end. But, to survive and rise, we must act. If you are looking for help with your marketing strategy during COVID-19, give us a buzz!