We’re all looking ahead to what’s after COVID-19. But in reality, we could be wrestling with social distancing and mitigation efforts for a year or more.
As businesses navigate a shaky economy and compete to attract cautious consumers, it’s a good time to ask a few crucial questions to guide your post-pandemic marketing strategies and prepare for an evolving marketplace.
How will you adapt to put safety first?
Today, tomorrow or six months from now, safety will still be first. COVID-19 has changed our DNA, and people will retain a healthy sense of fear for a while. Consumers want to know how your business is optimizing operations, product lines or services to keep people safe. Now is your time to innovate and get creative with seating, ordering procedures, promotions and more. Start listing the changes you’ve made (and will continue to make) in a post-pandemic world to ease concerns, and make sure this message is clear both internally and externally.
In addition to sharing safety measures, some brands may need to prepare a public relations plan to accompany their re-opening efforts. Will your business face backlash as it starts advertising? Make sure you have a narrative in place to handle questions, along with a plan to handle future COVID surges.
What are your incremental steps to re-engage?
We’ve seen that re-opening our communities and businesses is incremental. So with each new step to re-opening the consumer pipeline, your marketing plan should have a phased approach.
Craft a strategy and message to accompany each new phase of post-pandemic life, announcing new or additional services, highlighting hours, sharing safety measures and more. This might mean having anywhere from three to five different creative versions ready to go based on market conditions.
Along with that, you’ll need to re-evaluate your media mix with each phase. Consumer habits have changed dramatically in the age of COVID. Digital media usage has spiked, traditional and cable TV viewing is up, and streaming and terrestrial radio are seeing more listeners. This will continue to evolve as more consumers leave home and start traveling. Consider these shifts when planning your media dollars, keeping a fluid, month-to-month plan. You may also choose to slowly introduce tactics like outdoor, transit advertising or event sponsorships based on use.
What new customers or audience segments have you gained?
You may have lost customers during COVID-19. But many businesses have also gained them. Think about it: a company like Zoom that once appealed to just the business community is now a household name. People have tried new restaurants during the pandemic as their tried-and-true favorites closed or failed to offer delivery. How can your company stay connected to these new audiences through continued communication, incentives and messaging? Enact a loyalty program, test offers and keep a pulse through consumer research to stay relevant.
Do you need to reinvent yourself?
During this unprecedented time, people are going full Marie Kondo on more than just their closets – they’re Kondo-ing their lives. Whatever doesn’t spark joy must go, and consumers won’t have room for brands that aren’t useful. Now could be a perfect time to reinvent yourself, even in subtle ways. What will your brand stand for in this new day? And why will that matter to anyone?
Along with this, make sure you audit your overall customer experience. People will be more critical of where they go and how often they visit a brick-and-mortar store. So make sure your in-person experience is one worth having. Streamline your processes, make things easy to find, enact safety protocols and ensure your location is one they want to visit.
How can you create an accountability plan?
Finally, if you’ve used this time to improve SEO, spruce up your website, and start emailing your customers regularly, you should make room in the future to keep doing it. Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins so you can continue to audit, plan, act and optimize.