COVID-19 has got us to a situation where it is hard to know what each day is going to bring.
In these uncertain times, the world is undergoing a huge shift in consumer’s priorities; therefore, it has become essential for businesses to adapt marketing during COVID-19 to reflect the new reality.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the world, certain marketing strategies will evolve while the old ones might have to be revamped. Your business should be focused on marketing strategies that position your brand as a trusted product or service.
How we can plan for the next and the beyond?
What are the best practices for marketing during and after COVID 19?
Here are 10 Powerful Tips on Adapting Marketing During COVID-19.
1. Stand strong with consumers, and show empathy
Right now, consumers need comfort and answers to their questions. Marketers should stand up strong and use this opportunity to think fast.
A great example – LVMH quickly offered to convert their perfume factories into producing hand sanitizer – it showed their compassion in making hand sanitizers to keep the world safe in this condition. They also started production and distribution of large quantities of alternative non-surgical face masks to help protect against contamination, as well as hospital gowns.
“Brands are exploring every possible means to remain helpful and relevant to their customers, and making empathy a key part of their decision-making process is a wise approach,” says Liodice, the CEO at ANA.
2. Acknowledge the COVID-19 situation
Marketers are torn between the confusion of whether to reference Covid-19 in their advertising or not.
Covid-19 is all that people across the globe are thinking right now. It is having an unprecedented impact on consumers, the global economy, health, personal finances, education, communities, and careers.
Marketers need to acknowledge the crisis in all their marketing communications. Consumers can label you as insensitive if there is no word about this crisis when you interact with them.
Of course, talk about your brand and its offering, but first, acknowledge the COVID-19 crisis.
3. Understand the changing needs of the consumers
The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating and has led to a lot of changes in consumer behavior – to the extent that it will create new consumer segments.
According to the McKinsey survey market, “There has been a 55% increase in consumers intending to shift to online grocery shopping permanently, and an increase of 3%-6% points in overall e-commerce penetration in the aftermath of COVID-19.”
Once the dust settles down, consumers could rebound to their original habits, or we can expect some consumers to switch permanently to their newfound behavior.
It is important for marketers to track the changes as it occurs. Only by understanding the changing needs and behaviors of consumers can brands stay relevant and thereby plan aptly for the future.
4. Real-time customer analytics to fuel marketing decisions
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, companies need to radically rethink their marketing plans and redesign the way they operate. Real-time consumer data extracted through market research is helping companies to survive and sustain this dreadful pandemic.
With some brands having a huge customer base, it becomes meaningful to understand the voluminous and complex customer data. Market analytics facilitates gaining knowledge on the growth or decline in product categories.
With real-time data, brands can understand the major factors driving consumer buying. Brands need to adopt customer journey analytics to extract meaningful real-time insights.
5. Brand communication is the need of the hour
Do consumers want to hear from brands during a crisis?
Many companies are confused and debate over whether all communication should be stopped or if they should keep it moving.
The fact is that brands should be proactive. Companies should vote for fact-based communication with all internal and external stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, and all other business partners – which is a great way to avoid unnecessary panic.
For example, Blue Apron, the home meal delivery service, sent out an email when people started rushing to their stores. There was a lot of uncertainty about the availability of food and questions relating to food safety.
Blue Apron sent out a clear and timely email that soothed the concerns of the customers. They communicated the measures taken for the safe delivery of food.
6. Leverage technology to stay connected to customers
Technology has to take center stage during this crisis situation. Digital delivery has become a need for many customers who are confined at home. Marketing strategies should be designed to leverage technology, which can shift away from traditional marketing approaches to virtual or digital experiences.
Artificial intelligence-enabled market analysis and consumer insights will provide the company the much-needed direction. Self-service platforms, digital or online solutions, chatbots should take the upper hand, making technology the front runner in the marketing roadmap.
Andrew Walker, CEO, Shift7 Digital, says, “Further enable your work-from-home marketing, sales, and customer service teams through cohesive customer 360-degree views and data via your customer data platform. Help sales continue pipeline growth by feeding customer behavioral insights via your marketing automation system, while also implementing a well-designed lead scoring program to help them prioritize efforts.”
7. Reimage customer experience
During this crisis, consumers are in doubt to continue or to pause the purchase and services that they used to do earlier. Consumers might worry about whether your product is safe, and if companies have taken enough steps to ensure customer health.
Brands need to take proactive steps to address such customer concerns and demonstrate intent to deliver the highest customer experience. These measures will earn customer trust and helps to build relationships.
Brands that make early decisions to safeguard customers will succeed in decreasing anxiety and resolving problems before they surface.
For instance, a Global Web Index report says, “70% globally say they are spending more time on their smartphone, climbing above 80% for Gen Z.”
This clearly indicates that a company that has a web presence will have to make its smartphone customer experience as smooth as possible.
8. Review marketing campaigns
Coronavirus pandemic has pushed brands and the whole world into uncertain territory. With so much uncertainty, brands have big questions lingering in front of them. Should they even advertise at all? If they have to advertise – what should they advertise and what should they avoid?
As per market research, 62% of marketers have changed their marketing strategy due to the lockdown situation.
Brands need to need to tread carefully without being stamped as opportunistic or being identified as insensitive. Brands should send out reassuring messages to reinforce an emotional connection with consumers via these campaigns.
For example, Jack Daniel-With Love is a classic example of a brand campaign that was adjusted for the COVID-19 situation. Jack Daniel beautifully portrayed the way in which people across the globe are embracing social distancing and finding new ways to be in touch with each other
This ad is a heartwarming experience where it shows how humankind finds ways to keep in touch even during the most challenging time period.
9. Avoid hard sell and reaffirm commitment
Marketing leaders should step back from the hard sell and instead provide reassuring messages that show long term commitment to stay with consumers through thick and thin.
Adjust marketing messages to become consumer-focused. Most of the shoppers are buying products amidst fear and anxiety. For example, people are rushing to buy toilet paper as they fear that they don’t have enough toilet paper. Brands should ponder if the message is relevant for the day.
The key to showing support is to step away from hard selling. For example, Udemy is offering free online training courses in an act to encourage learning new skills during this lockdown period.
Ideally, when a brand gives away freebies, it has high chances that it will turn into a revenue stream when the event ends.
10. Reinforce stability
Stability and reassurance are what organizations should offer during these difficult times.
Don’t breed fear in your marketing messages. Successful brands rise above the situation by reinforcing the opposite of fear – that is, stability.
“Stay relevant to the consumer’s needs today, which means reassuring them about how your company/brand is responding to the pandemic. Apply a calming, reassuring tone with a positive message,” says Mark Lieberman, President, and CEO, Viamedia.
Analyze what you can offer to your customers – current and potential. Design and craft messages that can rise above the noise and reassure continued products and services to your customers.
Most important is to connect with your customers with an intention to offer value, consistency, and hope.
Final Thoughts on Adapting Marketing During COVID-19
An effective marketing strategy should reassure customers that you are still here for them and that you are taking every step necessary to keep them safe. Know your customers, understand them, and show empathy. Leverage technology and consumer insights to the fullest to gauge how consumer’s expectations, perceptions, and consumer behaviors change throughout the crisis. During these challenging times, it is important for every business to rise to the challenge and adapt to marketing during the COVID-19 outbreak.