In trying economies, like the one we’re experiencing in a sort of post-COVID-19
world, marketing professionals can identify which of their clients are the true believers in not just marketing, but also their brand. The non-believers essentially slash the marketing budget, halt all initiatives and say, “We’ll see you on the other side.” The believers ask, “How do we best adapt our marketing?” And then they take action.
Of course, it’s no wonder that the risk felt too high for those who chose to suspend their company’s marketing efforts during the pandemic. In March, 37% of consumers wanted brands to advertise as normal, as reported that month by trend analysts at GlobalWebIndex. “This is the clearest sign that brands have to interact with the market in a fundamentally different way,” the analysts stated. “Using the lens of brand purpose helps ensure that any activity at this time isn’t perceived as profiteering, but as a contribution to a bigger battle.”
The pandemic provided an important reminder that marketing tactics should be three things: considerate to the audience, genuine and brand-driven. The silver lining to the COVID-19 consumer expectation and call for marketing shifts was the opportunity to care for our customers like never before. This allowed us to focus on give-back initiatives or adapt existing marketing materials and processes to facilitate the needs of our customers in a socially distanced world. The real power of these efforts is that they communicate an important message to our customers: “We care about you.” In our client base alone, we had many shining examples of this:
- Old Crown Coffee Roasters, a popular local coffee shop, offered delivery on all coffee orders. The owner personally loaded up his vehicle and dropped off coffee orders to his customers.
- Music Encounters, a studio for music lessons, added virtual lesson capability and user- friendly scheduling to their website.
- James Medical, a medical equipment supply store, offered 20% off all in-store items from March to May and delivered or shipped all items, including items that normally required customer pickup.
- Trusted, a manufacturing company, designed, fabricated, powder-coated and delivered a donation drop-off box to a local non-profit, Whitington Homes & Services for Children and Families, so supporters would have a safe way to donate items to families in need.
Ultimately in vulnerable times, marketing objectives must shift from “growth” to “sustainability.” The reward that follows, aside from keeping our doors open, is quicker recovery and quicker growth. For instance, if Music Encounters hadn’t adapted to offer virtual lessons during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can safely assume they would have lost more than the 50 weekly lessons lost from March to July. Now, two months after reopening, they have not only regained the 50 lessons lost, but they have also added 100 new lessons to their pre-COVID-19 weekly lesson total. That’s a 75% increase in their total sales since January 2020. Music Encounters’ owner, Bill Dittlinger, said he attributes his company’s rapid success upon reopening to a couple of actions: “On top of building out a virtual lesson platform, we didn’t shut any of our advertising off — we just adjusted the message.”
Although we’re all beginning to feel a transition over to normalcy, we hope to see company leaders continue to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a reminder to drive marketing efforts with empathy and their brand. As we head into the holiday season, we encourage leaders to look for considerate ways to support a continuing socially distanced world. Regardless of which side of the coin you were on in terms of marketing and advertising throughout the pandemic, it’s not too late to reassure your audience that your company is here for them. Here’s five thoughtful initiatives your company can quickly fire out before the 2020 holiday season hits:
Five Marketing Initiatives for the 2020 Holiday Season
- Increase your website’s user-friendliness through the addition of virtual chat, scheduling and ordering.
- Invest in a social media content strategy to connect with your audiences as time spent online increases.
- Consider planning and investing in a digital advertising campaign for seasonal promotions and specials, such as Cyber Monday. If you’ve done so in the past, add some extra flair to this year’s campaign, or up your campaign’s exposure as online shopping is sure to increase in popularity as consumers continue to practice social distancing.
- If you haven’t in the past, send out holiday cards to your customers. If that’s something you already do each year, switch it up. Some favorite ideas of ours include:
- Have lunch catered for their team.
- Send a thoughtful gift basket full of local favorites.
- Send a copy of your favorite book.
- Purchase a one-year membership to an online professional self-improvement service, such as MasterClass.
- Don’t forget about showing appreciation to your team. Be sure to do something new and special for them this year, even if it’s as simple as throwing a holiday lunch celebration with a small gift exchange.
How we treat and care for our professional relationships — our employees and customers — is really no different than how we treat and care for our personal ones. It is in the hard times that our relationships need our support more than ever. By doing so, we build stronger, more loyal relationships. That’s hands down the most valuable return on investment; it sets you up to be bulletproof in every economy.