In addition to your sales department, your marketing team is the critical link between your business and customers. It must play a central role when it comes time to connect with prospective buyers during the pandemic and beyond. But how?
The COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything businesses have ever experienced before. It has completely changed how people interact with them. This is having an impact on their bottom lines, sometimes positive, but in most cases negative.
Marketers today are struggling with:
- How to communicate with customers.
- The best options for spending marketing dollars.
- The most effective ways to collaborate with colleagues while working remotely.
While there’s a lot of things for marketers to be concerned about right now, they’re also being presented with a unique opportunity. The pandemic and resulting economic challenges could be once-in-a-lifetime events that allow them to influence consumer behavior — and position their businesses — for years, or decades, to come. While having to respond to the crisis quickly, they also have to keep their eyes on the long-term prize.
Here are some of the challenges — and opportunities — marketers are facing today:
- Economic outlook. Optimism in the U.S. economy is down, which is keeping individual consumers and businesses from spending money. Marketers have to figure out what to do and say to generate increased sales now while also setting the foundation for a better, post-pandemic business future.
- Inconsistent performance. Different industries are being impacted in different ways. Disinfectant and mask sales are up. The hospitality industry is tanking. Marketers need to be nimble so they can respond to constantly shifting demand patterns. A business that’s cold today could be hot next week. The reverse could also be true. Marketers have to react without being reactionary.
- Digital transformation. All types of businesses are moving online. This was a trend prior to the pandemic, but it’s accelerated over the last six months. Even unexpected sectors like medicine and law have gone virtual. This is forcing marketers to think outside of the box and come up with new ways to market and communicate. It’s critical that they not limit their thinking to today. They also need to imagine the long-term digital customer experience.
- Media changes. With people spending time at home, they’re consuming more — and different kinds — of media. It’s critical for marketers to take time to understand the changing habits of their customers. It’s the only way they’ll be able to connect with them in the media they’re currently consuming.
So what can marketers do to cope with these complex situations?
- Accept the new reality. Start by acknowledging that today is unlike yesterday, and tomorrow will be different, as well. Marketers need to stay nimble and be responsive. The same old, same old that’s working now will probably not be effective tomorrow — or maybe even in the next hour.
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- Stay on top of the “now”. Focus on what customers are dealing with and support them. Update your processes and messaging to address the health issues, economic problems, and other challenges they’re managing through every day. Stay authentic. Old-school promotion won’t work during times like these.
- Manage your cash. No one knows how long the pandemic will last, or how it could impact businesses over time. Be careful about how you manage marketing budgets. Don’t be too frugal about how you spend money now so you miss out on current opportunities. You also must avoid being a spendthrift, to ensure you have cash when you need it later on.
- Create demand. People and businesses are spending less, which means you have to find ways to get them to part with their cash. Update your customer profiles and use cases to find new opportunities for selling your products and services. Marketers today must get creative to find ways to reposition their offerings to get people to take action.
- Try new media options. More people than ever are looking for advice and support from their peers during the COVID-19 crisis. They’re often doing this through social media. If you haven’t made the leap, it could be time for your business to join the social conversation. It may be the best way for your business to stay valid. Once you find marketing and media options that work, leverage them in revised plans.
- Stay agile. Agile marketing typically works in two-week sprints to keep up with changes in demand. However, that may be too slow for today. Successful marketers have to be able to adjust their operations to develop new strategies and campaigns in days, if not hours. Work with your team to find ways to be more agile and responsive now and in the future.
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- Rethink loyalty. The benefits, promotions, and other incentives that drove customer loyalty last year are likely meaningless now and will certainly be in the future. Loyalty during a pandemic is a very different thing than it was during “normal” times. Take time to discuss with your best customers what makes them loyal to your business and will keep them that way. Then update your initiatives based on their feedback. During times like these, regular and consistent customers could be far more valuable than prospecting for new business.
Need help staying up-to-date during the pandemic and beyond? Contact a friendly and helpful Mobile Locker representative. They can share insights and best practices from the vast array of clients that we work with that are successfully making it through these challenging times.