You’ve heard the familiar terms (maybe enough times to prompt a subconscious eye roll). These are unprecedented times. We live in the new normal. And, when it comes to business strategy, don’t forget to pivot. Now, we can chalk up the chronic overuse of these concepts to a lack of creative genius, or we can call them what they are—simply the truth. COVID-19 has uprooted daily life as we know it, transforming established routines at both home and work. The global crisis affects each of us on an individual level, causing ripples in consumer behavior worldwide and, ultimately, creating waves of change in the way businesses market to their customers.
As your target audience re-evaluates their priorities, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy to match those needs. According to a report published by Influencer Marketing Hub, among 35,000 global consumers:
- 78% of them think brands should help them in their daily lives;
- 75% of them think brands should inform people of what they’re doing
during the crisis;
- 74% of them think companies should not exploit the situation.
In a special COVID-19 version of The CMO Survey, some 62% of top marketers said marketing has become more important during this time. Your customers expect more from you right now and what worked prior to this year runs the risk of falling flat or seeming tone-deaf in the delicate climate. So, how can you keep building brand loyalty while effectively demonstrating that your business cares?
Show Awareness and Be Realistic
Don’t be afraid to address the crisis (and to show some vulnerability)! COVID-19 is a collective experience affecting each of us and it’s okay—better even—to acknowledge that. Consumers understand that the humans behind your brand are what keep it alive. If your marketing messaging resumes “business as usual,” you will seem out of touch. While you acknowledge the crisis, it’s also important to map out your revenue goals accordingly. Given the hefty economic impact of the pandemic, customers are increasingly careful about how they spend their money. Setting realistic goals for your business and re-aligning your strategy sets you up for better success and encourages your customers to feel comfortable and confident in investing their hard-earned dollars in your brand.
Be Quick on Your Feet and Flex Those Creative Muscles
“When asked about top pain points since the pandemic, 46% of marketers said that taking too long to make a marketing decision proved to be a disruption.” (MarketingCharts, 2020) Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and imagine what would make the most difference to you when choosing a business or brand right now. Would you feel more comfortable choosing the brand that constantly adapts to meet its customers’ needs, or the brand that went dark on you when you wanted reassurance the most?
Examine your existing strategy and the metrics you consider valuable for driving revenue to determine what is still reasonable in the current circumstances and what needs to be re-worked. As customers search for new brands and businesses online, remain agile and brainstorm unique offerings to keep yourself in the running.
Let’s Get Digital
If the strategy is the dough, the digital tactics are the oven to cook it. You only have a complete product with the combined efforts of the two. If you’re marketing a business, you’re probably aware that, with the ever-growing digital landscape, you’ll fall behind if you’re not on board. This year, we’ve seen in-person conferences become completely virtual. We’ve attended more Zoom meetings and webinars than we can count. We’ve seen brands put more emphasis on improving the user experience. (Take Chipotle’s launch of virtual lunch hangouts as a prime example of this.) The bottom line is, customers need to be met where they are. Right now, they are at home, on their computers or mobile phones. Most consumers find your brand’s website or social media before any in-person introduction, and there is no better time to ensure that your online presence is optimized for a unified, compelling user experience than now.
Emphasize Relationship Building and Add Value
When consumers are feeling lonely or anxious about their health and jobs or can’t interact in person, they look for support online. Being active on social media is key, as the conversations that are happening now offer valuable insight about your target audience and how they’re adapting during the crisis.
The focus on social media marketing to connect with customers has grown since the beginning of the pandemic, as marketers have increased investment in social media budgets by 74% since February. (The CMO Survey, 2020) Listen to your customers, join the conversation and ask engaging questions. People want opportunities to build relationships with brands that understand their struggles and provide resources and value for their lives.
Focus on Your Tone
When you were little, were you ever asked to watch your tone? The same remains true for all marketing messaging—especially now. Use a reassuring, compassionate tone throughout your brand communications that exhibits your understanding of the situation at hand. Ask yourself how your brand or service can aid the customer within the context of this time and then emphasize that.
Though this year threw a curveball, the disruption can hold valuable opportunities for businesses and marketers to better understand their target audience. As things continue to change rapidly, meeting your customers where they are and utilizing this time to turn inward and refresh strategy is essential for success. As a bonus, maintaining strong marketing but shifting your focus can have lasting benefits for your business: Brands that maintain their marketing and/or change their messaging can get a long-lasting boost in sales and market share. (Forbes, 2019)
There are still many questions and unknowns as we steer through the pandemic, but connection and empathy carry us through difficult moments. Create realistic goals, flex your creative muscles within the digital landscape and remain empathetic to the situation. In other words, pivot! Your marketing strategy now is a crucial element in building your business or brand’s credibility in the long run, and your customers will always remember the ones who provided value for them.
Learn more about Cohlmia Marketing’s capabilities here.
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