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MARKETING IN A POST-COVID ERA
Dare we say the COVID-era is coming to an end? That might be the case, but don’t get too excited. Nothing will ever be the same. Most recently, former Beatle rock legend, Sir Paul McCartney, was interviewed on the podcast Smartless and likened the COVID pandemic to a world war.
Unlike prior viruses or diseases which “happened to someone or someplace else,” according to Sir McCartney, the Coronavirus has impacted everyone worldwide similar to a world war. The social, economic and political climate of our nation has shifted over the past nine months and it continues to evolve. The greatest lesson learned by everyone dependent upon consumer spending for their livelihood should be the importance of preparation.
Venturing a guess, no one was prepared for what the world entered in March 2020. The quick and gut-wrenching pivots made by businesses left many in shambles. Well get ready, if you thought getting the train off the tracks was rough, wait until it slams back on them.
Marketing to consumers during 2021 will be a battle of the wills between the two parties. Retailers, entertainment venues and culinary venues will lean toward shifting back to the pre-COVID mantle they all built their businesses upon for generations. A much more tech savvy consumer willing to forego in-person experiences for the newfound conveniences of online engagement will want the brands they count on to maintain or even grow their online offerings. This tug-of-war between what was and what we want will be a struggle hard fought to right the economy. What are you going to do?
There are a few actions businesses and organizations can take now in preparing for the next event on the horizon, the immunity to COVID and a hungry, yet more complacent, consumer:
Continue Online Offerings
Easy is easy. In the post-COVID era, consumers will not want to go back to how things were. They will want to do things better. If your business or organization is still struggling to provide an enriching online experience, figure it out – fast! Lean heavy into video, live streaming and co-mingle online opportunities with in-person experiences. It’s time to go to the consumer right where they are comfortable. If you aren’t in the living room with them, then you need to find a path to their virtual door immediately.
Spend More Time and Money on Digital Engagements
Your customer is online a lot. Meet them there by showcasing your brand through social media, email marketing, targeted digital ads (not just Facebook boosted posts), geofencing, geotargeting and device targeting. According to Pew Research, 96% of Americans have a cell phone of some sort and 81% of those are a smartphone – people are on them all of the time! If your website, digital advertising, analytics suite and device targeting is not fine-tuned to reach a consumer on the small screen, get there now.
Offer Hybrid Experiences
There will be those late tech adopters, or others that will want to shift back as well. To engage them, provide a hybrid sales experience. Think of an order-online and pick-up in person experience, but on steroids. Can your business handle an immediate or “take over” sale? What about providing real time live streaming for those who are in (or around) your physical location drawing them into your retail or venue? Your consumer might be inclined to order or use technology to place an order, but want to be able to visit your establishment to either inspect or pick-up their purchase.
Re-introduce In Person Environments
There are some things that just can’t be fully experienced online. Those are the rich, tactile, nostalgic, smells, tastes and feels we have all longed for during this past year. Meet your consumer’s expectations. Amp up those things people miss. If you are unsure what those are, think about using this time to send them a survey. Ask questions such as “What do you miss most” or “How was your last experience memorable”. Anything to glean from those stakeholders the magic sauce you may or may not be providing is most important. Additionally, think of hosting a re-grand opening. Also, look at your brand. Is it time for an update, or time to really push forward with the heritage and tradition for which your brand stands?
As the Coronavirus vaccine slowly trickles through the American economy, remember, you have only as much time as the consumer will allow. Just as the shift to curbside and in-home deliveries became almost overnight necessities, the next essential worker just might be the digital strategies to keep your brand vision online so shipping across the state becomes shipping across the globe.