The world has never seen anything like his pandemic, with whole countries locked down and businesses closed. While marketing should be the last budget item to be cut, with no income coming in and with some unable to pivot, many companies have been forced to halt their marketing campaigns. As lockdown is relaxed, how will marketing change in this post-coronavirus era?
Customer behaviour changes
Marketing theory has long shown that consumer behaviour is built largely on habits. These habits have not only been disrupted, but fear will continue long past the initial lockdown. Consumers have been forced to look at virtual alternatives, consider online shopping – even if they’ve never ordered online before – and learn or adopt new practices, such as more cooking at home, creating home workspaces, and online conferencing.
Every industry is different. We’ve helped businesses take their primary occupation online where they never thought they would, or to create a new niche offering that can be delivered in a new way. Whether your business can do this or not, we recommend asking the below questions:
1. Look at how your ideal avatar or customer’s behaviour has changed in the short term. Ask yourself, how long could this last, and when or how hard will it hit us?
2. Conduct a mini SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Ask yourself, looking at question 1, can we adapt to their new behaviours in the short or long term? How can you encourage customers back to lost or replaced habits? How can you reconnect with your customers?
Many businesses have found that they’ve actually thrived in this environment. For you to do this, there are a few points to consider:
a. Have you revisited your offering? Perhaps the market leader hasn’t been fast enough to react and you can take advantage of their lack of speed.
b. Revisit your website. As a bare minimum, ensure you’re communicating – on the home page – if and how you’re operating right now and the steps you’re taking to protect your workers and customers. Read our ‘Three steps to a pandemic-proof website’.
c. You might find Google Trends of use to see how consumers in and around your industry have altered their search habits
The primary purpose here is to revisit your ideal customer avatar, see how the profile has altered, and make sure your marketing is in line with what they’re doing and where they spend their time online right now.
Your customer offering
Now you have your customer analysis and understand how your industry and competitors are reacting and changing, it is time to reevaluate your own value proposition or customer offering. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your service or product removing pain from your customer’s lives or helping them to achieve something?
2. Has your service or product become less competitive compared to what others are now offering?
3. Is your service or product now irrelevant, i.e. does the need still exist?
4. If it is still needed, can we make it more attractive in the current climate?
Your marketing plan
With all this information to hand, now it’s time to revisit your post-coronavirus marketing strategy. In this changed landscape, consumers are looking for a number of changes from brands. You can see examples of how some large brands have reacted – and been seen in both positive and negative lights in this recent article from Marketing Week.
As highlighted in a recent McKinsey article, consider these four actions for your own business:
1. Demonstrate concern and care for your customers and workers
2. Be where your customers are, whether that’s online or elsewhere
3. Try to build flexibility into your working processes so you can respond quickly to further changes
4. Look at the short-, mid- and long-term effects in terms of customer communication, changes to products/services and working practices, to remaining agile and fluid for future changes
There are no standard answers to suit every industry here, but one thing is clear: few businesses can afford to sit back and do nothing. There are more people online now than there have ever been before, and yet there are fewer competitors actively marketing. This makes it a prime time to capitalise on a better reach than was possible before and, with the right offering, your business will not only survive this pandemic, but could thrive as a result.
Talk to us at Engage Web about how we could help your business’ digital marketing plans post-coronavirus.