COVID-19 hasn’t so much changed everything for businesses and marketing, as accelerated trends that were already under way.
It's been a struggle for many industry sectors and businesses to adapt quickly to the rapid acceleration of these trends. For some, it has been difficult to adapt at all. However, wherever the opportunity has arisen, businesses have shown determination and initiative in quickly making the changes needed to help their customers.
Businesses, and the economy, have shown a spirited ability to bounce back.
Whilst the future remains uncertain, there are indications that there will be big opportunities for businesses once confidence begins to return:
- The agility and speed with which many businesses were able to transform is an indication of a spirit and inner strength that bodes well for the future.
- The accelerated transformation of many businesses means that they will be better placed to make the most of any upturn in trading conditions and the economy.
- Household savings have soared during lockdowns - by £150 billion last year according to Bank of England figures. Many corporate businesses have also built cash reserves. This money is likely to be spent at the first signs of normality.
- The vaccine roll-out is going well and as confidence returns to a vaccinated Britain, it will do for businesses and consumers.
So, how can marketing help businesses face the challenges and opportunities the rest of the 20’s are likely to bring?
3 steps to marketing and business success in the 2020’s
Before you get started it's worth remembering that any marketing activity undertaken by a business is only worthwhile if it makes a significant contribution towards achieving the company’s goals.
It's also important to note that much has changed over the last 12 months. COVID-19 hasn’t just accelerated trends that were already underway, it has also changed consumer perceptions. Customers now see things differently to how they did a year ago.
So there are four things that need to be taken into consideration when taking the 3 steps to successful marketing:
One way or another, pretty much everyone has had a hard time of it over the last 12 months.
Recognise that by fine tuning your products, offer, or services, and your marketing communications. Demonstrate a good understanding of how your customers may be feeling. Taking both these steps will go a long way in building strong relationships with customers.
Customers want to feel safe. They also want to be sure that they're dealing with a business that takes the safety of it's customers and employees seriously.
If customers visit your premises, or have direct interaction with you, they want to feel that they're in the safest of hands.
Where interaction is less direct, or remote, customers want to feel secure that the businesses which serve them are observing the safest COVID-19 working practices – for the wellbeing of the business’s employees, and so that they know that any goods or services they may receive are also as ‘safe’ as possible.
Putting the safety of employees and customers first isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.
Trust is an incredibly valuable commodity. Being empathetic and safe will help build trust with customers, but there’s also an increasing consumer focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. Customers are more inclined to buy from businesses that achieve a good balance between their economic, social, and environmental responsibilities in their operations and the way in which they serve their customers.
4. Changing habits
At home, and at work, habits have changed as a result of COVID-19. The increases in online shopping, home delivery for groceries, exercising outdoors, the use of TV streaming platforms and working from home are some of the habits that are likely to continue into the future.
3 steps to successful marketing
There are three steps that you can take now to prepare your business for success in the 2020’s.
1. Focus on how you add value to the lives of your customers
Don't focus on what you sell, on what you manufacture or the services you provide.
Work out how you add value to customers’ lives.
A simple question to ask about your business, in order to do that is:
“How does what you / what you’re doing make customers lives easier or better?”
2. Stand out from the crowd
To avoid being on a ‘level playing field’ you need a point of difference to help make your business the preferred choice.
Establish what’s unique about your business, what you do or the way that you do it.
Find a way of communicating it one simple, easy to understand phrase, for example Aldi’s ‘Like brands. Only cheaper.’ neatly sums up what they offer and how they're different.
3. Reach out to, and engage with, the right audiences
If you’ve taken the two steps above it should give a really good idea of the kind of people, or businesses, you should target.
Find out the best way to talk with people who are / who might be interested in what you have to offer. Often you can do this by carrying out your own research online to find out what media they are most likely to consume.
Wherever you can, prioritise your marketing activity so that it targets the most attractive segments of your target audience first.
Marketing for a bright future
However things unfold over the coming months (and years), those organisations that have invested time and effort in clearly defining how they add value to customers lives differently (to competitors), and have put plans in place to reach out to the right audience, with the right message at the right time, will perform best.