As the COVID 19 pandemic rages on, whole industries are on the verge of collapse or dramatic change. Sometimes it seems that the line between collapse or change is so thin it’s barely noticeable as time goes on. As old consumer habits collapse along with whole businesses, some industries are writing the new future. Reimagining marketing in the new normal – is it possible?
The industries and businesses that are persistent through the crisis are the ones that are quickly adapting to the new consumer behaviours. Marketers especially will need to think hard – about what consumers in the “new normal” will think, feel and do. Seeing as after six long months of lockdowns and quarantines, the pandemic is nowhere near over, brands will have to face the truth.
The “new normal” is here to stay. As brands continue to transform and lay the foundations for future growth here are some key focus areas.
1. The return of the CMO
Many of the companies that had done away with the Chief Marketing Officer position in their companies have been slowly reinstaning this key role in 2020. As many brands turn digital, the vital role of the CMO will continue to rise in importance.
As the health crisis persists marketing is emerging as the think tank of a brand’s pandemic response. The importance of marketing in the process of connecting various parts of businesses and especially in client communications and relations is rising.
This only further reinforces the role of the CMO as a key player of the team.
2. Shopping online: Some people are using a digital shopping cart for the first time
The global pandemic has caused a major shift in consumer behaviour. Unable to physically visit stores to buy their products, people are turning to digital shopping overnight, some of them for the first time in their lives.
Consumers helped e-commerce and digital shopping fast track their way to many homes. A process that was supposed to happen over a span of few years, consumers helped become reality in just over a few weeks. For instance, Amazon has reported a 26 percent boom in sales in the first quarter of 2020. A significant increase compared with the same period in 2019.
For marketers, this means rethinking how to connect with customers. Putting an emphasis on e-commerce and digital channels in general is crucial. E-commerce platforms are springing up overnight, every single day. For brands having an economic downturn, digital has become a crucial component of rapid revenue recovery.
Data-driven marketing will become increasingly more important, as new waves of consumer statistics are pouring in. Marketers will need to think hard about how to use this newfound data, and better personalize it to reach their target audience. When consumers are at home, their mindset is not the same as when they are in a store.
They are more relaxed, and there is no rush to put things in a cart. They can simply close the window and come back later. So marketers will need to be trained how to use this new behavioural data and successfully predict behaviours in the “new normal”.
3. Are e-services the new future?
With the increasing popularity of e-services in different sectors such as banking and telemedicine, there may be new opportunities rising for marketers and companies alike. Those that will be able to recognize these opportunities and adapt to the changes in the e-landscape will be most likely to cruise through the pandemic less harmed.
For marketers, the rise of consumer confidence in e-services may signal a potential opportunity to create new connections with people and customers. Tying several services into one, the unified experience could help companies market each other to a much wider audience. Compared when marketing a service as standalone. For instance, online training platforms can partner with healthy food providers to create a unified experience of working out and dieting properly.
This could create a much wider potential audience for each platform. Thus making it easier for customers to access several services in one place, instead of alt-tabbing experiences.
4. Adapting to a more “open” Freemium model of services
It’s no secret that the COVID crisis has hit businesses hard, especially the smaller ones. And when businesses are trying to stay afloat, a different pricing model may be the way to get new customers and potentially increase your revenue.
Even though freemium models are already a widespread marketing tactic, marketers could implement a more “open” freemium model. This would be aimed at helping businesses in need. Potentially this could be the bridge to a stronger connection to the customer base.
For instance, Neil Patel opened up more premium features for his keyword research tool Ubersuggest and saw a rise in traffic. Not only that, but people started contacting him to express their gratitude. He even saw a rise in bought subscriptions as a “thank you” from his blog readers.
Even though the crisis has distanced people physically, a form of building connections through helping other people in need may bring results for businesses. A form of “gratitude marketing”.
5. Unemployment has made education the most popular kid on the block
With employment at an all-time high, people are turning to educational materials to increase their worth on the job market and learn new skills. There is a hidden opportunity for marketers and companies in this new trend. Offering educational materials for jobs, especially high-tech ones for which many people have no skills, may be a good way to establish a strong bond with your customer base.
The educational materials can be in the form of blog posts, webinars, newsletter materials, or even YouTube videos. People are looking for new opportunities, so there’s a great chance that a customer that receives something from a company for free, has a bigger potential of forming a long-lasting relationship with that company.
6. Home: The central hub for all activities
Now that many companies have felt the advantages of their employees working from home, many of them have decided to keep this as a long-term solution. Some departments of companies may actually adopt this approach permanently.
This means that people now use their homes for everything, from work to working out and entertainment. In many cases, people have increased their online entertainment expenditures, even when cutting back on others. Streaming services as well as online gaming has seen a surge in users, and this trend continues to constantly rise.
With the health crisis nowhere near an end, marketers have to find a way to reach users in their homes and establish a two-way communication channel. Unlike the company, to customer one-way communication we’re used to seeing which is marketing. Marketers have to discover the most effective way of reaching customers. However, having in mind that they’re constantly using different platforms, even simultaneously at times.
7. Downsizing from global to local
The near-total suspension of travel has made local communities much more important. People have turned their attention from the global community to their local communities and neighbourhoods.
Businesses who are looking to reap benefits from this can look to localizing their marketing efforts. This could include tailoring messages to the specifics of each local community and neighborhood, through locally established channels.
Sponsoring local events, aiding neighborhood efforts can be a great way of establishing a connection with local communities. This will require marketers to tailor their approach to a highly customizable level depending on the specifics of each community.
8. Purpose: Doing the “right” thing is in
Marketers must focus on communicating the right brand values. This is key if they want to establish a strong sense of connection with their customers. Brands will have to be able to show that their brand values stand for something that other people can associate with.
Brands can do this by choosing the projects they choose to work on, the companies they choose to work with, the messages they send to their customers and the way they treat their employees.
Most importantly brands will need to back up bold words with real action. Brands that try to take advantage of a situation and not show real dedication to the cause could suffer serious backlash.
Marketers and brands will need to closely monitor whether these trends stick or not and adapt accordingly. By now marketers should have enough info to properly prepare their next moves.
For B2B sales strategies in the post-COVID environment read our blog post!