Nobody could have foreseen 2020 turning out the way it did. Globally, everyone has been affected by COVID-19 and sadly the end of it is still a long way off. As crippled economies are slowly returning back to work and businesses are in rescue mode or planning their recovery strategy, many are again shifting their focus to marketing – as they should.
Every business, irrespective of the industry, big or small, has a market aimed at the consumer.
As much as everyone is getting used to the ’ new normal’ with hand sanitisers and face masks becoming permanent accessories and a way of life, the nature of human contact and communication as we used to know it, has also, awkwardly, been turned on its head.
With social distancing the new norm, human touch, and handshakes indefinitely set aside, the focus has naturally been re-directed to words and actions. Naturally, marketing methods have changed and so have mind-sets.
So, where do you start or navigate marketing and customer relations post-COVID-19 for business recovery? Here are six pointers for getting started:
1. Move closer to your customer
It’s a very traumatic time in history where people are concerned about their health, loved ones, businesses, and finances. Placing your customer at the heart of your business or applying a consumer-centric approach is the only solution. It will help you to build trust and loyalty with your customers. Focus on them by understanding who they are – hence the need for targeted market research. Find out what their needs and expectations are, as well as their concerns, fears, and emotions. Businesses and brands that can’t relate to their customers’ needs are seen as tone-deaf. This extends to communicating with them on the platforms and channels where they will be found. Listen to their feedback, needs, and opinions. Add value in all your actions (from content to sales) and ensure a great experience that meets their needs. By focusing on your customers, you’ll have a competitive advantage which will eventually drive more sales.
2. It’s not about you
Now, more than ever, businesses and brands must move-away from self-promotion and hard sell.
According to a well-known psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman, self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy. When we focus on others, our world expands and we increase our capacity for connection or compassionate action.
This is where PR has a pivotal role to play as it’s primarily about relationship building. When listening, you can empathise and come to a more meaningful understanding of your customers. This includes understanding the underlying emotions that trigger your customers. Try to imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes – the challenges they are currently facing and the hurdles they might still have to overcome. For most people in our country, aspects such as self-indulgence have taken the backseat. Their families, friends, financial and food security, health, and wellbeing are now top priority.
According to the American Marketing Association marketers should think less about what they want and more about how it would make the recipient feel.
Only when you fully understand the needs of your customers and how you can add value or offer solutions, can you implement a successful and humanised campaign. Putting your customers first will create trust and win their hearts.
3. Keep your marketing communication real and relevant
Customers are people and are no fools. No matter your industry – there’s now more than ever a need for empathy and honesty in your communication. Empathy is what makes us human and plays a critical role in building mutually beneficial relationships.
Carefully think through the content and messaging you are putting out with your blog posts, editorials, social media, electronic newsletters, and advertising.
Relevant and personalised content that shows your values – that you genuinely care – is a fool-proof method to connect with your customer meaningfully.
Companies and brands that communicate with empathy not only have a great opportunity to re-connect and strengthen relations with existing customers, but also open the possibility of attracting new customers.
4. Stay visible
The adage of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rings true. One of the most crucial aspects of business recovery is to be visible. Do your customers know of your existence and can they find you easily? People consider visibility to equal credibility but even the best product or service won’t be successful if no one knows about you.
If you are not visible to your ideal customer, especially in online channels, they will end up choosing someone else with more visibility who can offer the same product or service.
By remaining visible and engaging with your customers meaningfully online and offline while ensuring great experiences, you will build strong and trustworthy relationships.
5. Do some good
Taking care of and supporting your staff not only shows your integrity but will affect your reputation. Happy staff members are also loyal employees. They will more than likely go the extra mile for you during the road to business recovery.
Secondly, as communities have come together to help each other, now is the time for more companies or brands to become philanthropic and to reach out to your local community or a special cause. This is an important opportunity to show your true brand values and could make a big difference when customers decide on brands and businesses they will support. Businesses and brands that are perceived as caring for others, gain greater respect. Woolworths is a very good example of a corporate that has stepped up to its caring brand image by introducing several programmes to assist their frontline staff, customers, and communities during lockdown.
Moreover, remember to highlight the ways you are giving back, donating a portion of proceeds or helping your community in your communication channels.
6. Add value and incentives
No matter how urgently you need sales or new customers, show some love. For instance, adding value, offering special discounts, free delivery for online orders, and in-store gifts to collect during purchases, can help support recovery and help gain new customers.
By keeping a few important factors in mind when planning your PR and digital marketing efforts after lockdown, you will be able to summit this tough pandemic mountain and help your business in its recovery.
While this may all seem quite daunting, you can begin by implementing one element at a time. And, of course, if you’re really snowed under with your marketing, we can help by crafting the best plan to suit your goals, your market and your budget.GET IN TOUCH