In March, when businesses initially closed in response to COVID-19, things happened quick. Even though it is argued that the response didn’t happen fast enough, once it did, “abandon” and “scramble” are among the words that can best be used to describe the transition. Employees participating in team-building exercises or sprawling projects on Tuesday were, by Friday, lugging home equipment for an indefinite office exile.
Faced with massive disruption, companies and their employees have, for the most part, made the best of what they have been dealt. Some, despite last-ditch heroic efforts, and through no fault of their own, have had to close for good. In some cases, this time has provided a much-needed wake-up call, further proving the adage that in business you have to continually adapt. This is no different.
Improvised adaptation is fine for urgent and temporary situations. But, we’re now entering our fifth month of semi-quarantine/hesitant reopening, and there will likely never be a clearly defined “end” to precautionary measures. One thing is clear, however: this pandemic has fundamentally altered both brand and consumer behavior, perhaps forever. Understanding these changes is crucial to continued success.
Now is the time to take a long, smart look at your marketing goals, strategies, and tools, and evaluate if they will be relevant or effective in a Post-COVID world.
- Your Website – In a landscape where customers literally can’t enter your office and fewer and fewer people seem to be talking on the phone, your website has likely taken on significantly more responsibility for your company’s presence in the world. While social has taken on its share, your website should be the hub that reflects all of your collective marketing efforts. Make sure it is fully optimized to increase engagement and drive sales. Additionally, eCommerce sales are expected to make up more than 15 percent of all retails sales this year (up from about 7percent five years ago). Maybe now is the time to invest in eCommerce functionality.
- Your Culture – When you mention culture, it’s easy to conjure a collection of perks or novelty workplace antics. But if you think more broadly, culture is the observable accumulation of your team’s shared values that drives behavior and reflective of how the outside world consistently views your brand. What does your company culture look like? Is everyone operating from the same playbook, or is everyone feels like they’re on their own, which can breed frustration and fear. Teams that have leaned in toward one another during this time—to bridge gaps in communication with one another and, when needed, radically change how they connect with customers—are doing better than most, and will maintain a reputation for being a company people want to do business with.
- Your Virtual Sales Rep – The bad news is that face-to-face sales just aren’t much of an option right now. The good news is that everyone—including your most fierce competitor—is in the same boat. Buyer habits have changed dramatically in the past few months. The survivors of today’s marketing fittest contest will be the ones who are best equipped with the right tools needed to effectively target audiences where they are right now.
- Your Network – Let’s face it, regardless of your personality or communication style, we are social creatures at our core. This means top-level executives and front-line essential workers alike. COVID-19 has done much to level the playing field on communication. No longer reserved for those too far to commute or home with a sick kid, entire team communications have moved online. Virtual gatherings have, if not replaced the impact of in-person contact, have fostered a different kind of connection. Additionally, this is the time—for those who can—to reach out in authentic and generous ways to help others. Not because it earn you future gains, but because it is the right thing to do.
- Your Digital Marketing Strategy – Now is the time to evaluate how your digital marketing strategy aligns to the current climate. You are quite aware that your customer’s buyer’s journey has changed, but do you know how it’s changed? How about your competitors? It is likely that while some of them have disappeared, others are creating aggressive strategies to gain traction. Now is a good time to reinvest in tools—like Personas—to both redefine your audience and validate your differentiator in the market.
The COVID-19 crisis is the first major event of the modern era that has forced the broadest demographic imaginable to think, live, work, and communicate differently. When we finally emerge from the imminent threat of contagion, the landscape will look different. Whether this is viewed as a detriment or an opportunity will surely be seen for years to come as a sign of the times.
Minds On is a B2B digital marketing agency uniquely equipped to help organizations with marketing strategies and services that converts and drives sales. Give us a look; we’d love to help out.