92%. That’s the percentage of small businesses said to have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. There’s no question this global pandemic hit businesses and their employees hard. To survive – and eventually thrive – we must recognize that life will be forever different. And with that reality, the way we do business will need to change too.
Here are the marketing insights we’ve gathered on how to emerge on-top.
Silence isn’t the answer
COVID-19’s economic impact is widespread. Individuals and families are financially hurting, but consumers recognize businesses are hurting too. They aren’t looking for us to stop doing business – they are just looking for us to go about it in the right way. Only 8% of consumers thought brands should stop advertising during the coronavirus pandemic.
So, it’s time to get out there. Our customers may not be ready to buy right now, but we need to adjust messaging to anticipate their needs and let them know we’re there when they’re ready. When major airlines realized many people wouldn’t be flying soon, they stopped trying to sell people on flying today and transitioned to a “When it’s time to travel again…” message. Making these shifts is essential in keeping brand awareness and loyalty intact.
Pick up the digital transformation pace
From video conferencing and delivery of goods to telemedicine, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, evolving how we experience content and use services. With 80% of consumers in the U.S. and UK saying they consume more content since the outbreak and social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates, the customers are there to reach – just more digitally than before.
People being forced to spend more time at home has also changed the time in which they engage with marketing content. Google reports there have been large spikes in search traffic, but clustered in early morning and late evening hours, which varies from pre-pandemic patterns. And it’s not just search patterns that have shifted. With many companies pulling their advertising, the average CPC has decreased by 50%. This leaves brands with the unique opportunity to invest in digital at a reduced cost.
Even brands that had business models built on digital platforms had to adjust. Netflix quickly adapted to friends and loved ones having to be home, but not necessarily under the same roof, by introducing social features to their platform. With Netflix Party, synchronized video playback and group chat are available.
As always, businesses must change with their customers, by assessing their channels and meeting their customers where they are now. So, once you meet them, what do you say?
Share the growth
People have used this time in quarantine to learn new skills and hobbies, and companies have too. Customers want to know about brand’s journeys over the last several months.
Companies should be asking:
- Did we live up to our corporate values and purpose?
- How did our brand struggle and what did we do to respond?
- What are we doing or going to do differently?
Facebook conducted an analysis of the creative content across their platforms to understand what’s resonated most and created the most value during the pandemic. They found brands can show up in three ways: through what they say, through their actions or through what they sell. So, once they’ve answered to the above questions, they need to assess which category works best based on their offerings.
With these insights in mind, it’s time to make a plan specific to your business.
What does forward look like?
Your customers still have needs and you need to continue to sell. But this isn’t the time for staying the course. You must adapt to the new ways of working and then plan for how to move forward in order to continue reaching customers and providing value.
Step one: Look at your email lists, publications and social media target audiences. Assess active vs inactive customers, and other possible sub-groups, to better customize messaging to people who may be impacted in different ways.
Step two: Assess your channel mix. Customer behavioral trends may vary during this time. Meet your customers where they are. Look at focusing on digital, especially social. Once you’ve reached them, measure sentiment and consumption trends on a regular basis to better adapt messaging and audience.
Step three: Find a balanced message. To not appear tone deaf and alienate customers, you need to lead with empathy, be yourself and add value. And it’s not just about new messaging. Don’t send any pre-planned communications without ensuring the message is still relevant and it’s being sent to the right audience. And lastly, make sure to communicate specific information on how “normal” service will return.
Step four: Don’t sacrifice quality. When looking at your bottom line, customer experience isn’t the place to cut. Companies that kept their customer experience in-tact experienced up to 3x higher returns for shareholders over 2007-2009.
With deep industry experience in strategy and execution across traditional, digital and social channels, Brown Bag is ready to help you move forward. Whether you need support with messaging, a website or social media, reach out so we can figure out a tailored plan that works best for your business.