The New Marcom Playbook: What COVID-19 Means for Marketing

Posted by Jeff Stein on September 2, 2020
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Nobody wants to talk about the proverbial elephant in the room, but the fact of the matter is that the way that COVID-19 is affecting our world and our economy requires a conversation for marketers and decision-makers in brand management campaigns. People are social distancing, self-isolating, and spending more time online than ever before. Their expectations and demands are changing, which is creating a shift in the marketing operations side of things.

For those who are trying to navigate the ongoing crisis with tact and professionalism, it can be a challenge. However, the biggest challenge for most brands right now is just reaching the customer in the first place. When you do reach the customer, you want to make sure that you are getting that human connection, which is paramount to people right now. There is so much uncertainty in the world that people want something familiar. When you connect with them as a brand but also from a human perspective, it will give them a reason to stick with you and come back to you in the future.

While customers may never be aware of how the finance and HR departments react to a crisis like this, everyone can see the marketing and sales teams on display, front, and center, with their moves reflected in every advertisement, marketing campaign, and customer transaction. Because of this, it’s important to keep a transparent stream of information to re-establish that consumer trust that is missing.

Agility is one of the biggest factors that is being discussed in light of the uncertain nature of the world around us. At FuseBox One, we understand how important it is to have agile marketing solutions that can keep your brand on topic and on the mind of all of your potential customers. Keep reading to learn more about how to make the most of your resources in the current economy and how to keep them thriving into the future.

It’s Not Insensitive—Or it Shouldn’t Be

One of the biggest topics of conversation in the marketing realm right now is whether even having these discussions is insensitive. There is a pandemic that is affecting the entire world, and especially the U.S., in devastating ways. However, stopping your business isn’t going to save the day. By taking the time to learn the new consumer journey considering the Coronavirus outbreak, you’ll be able to guarantee that nothing you do is insensitive or looks like it’s capitalizing on a negative situation.

It isn’t about finding ways to “capitalize” on the state of things in light of the pandemic. It's about learning how to adapt and change to continue to grow your business and address the issue head-on for the sake of your customers.

92% of consumers in America are worried about how COVID-19 is going to impact the economy. It’s up to you to start the conversation to restore their peace of mind in the buying journey for your brand and the economy as a whole.

  1. Reassurance

The biggest thing that any company can do right now is to reassure its customers that it is doing its part to keep people safe and practice safe business during the COVID-19 outbreak. Let people know how your brand is responding to the situation and make sure that you are warm when you can be because people need more of that right now. Offering this reassurance will help calm people, and in turn, give them a sense that yours is a brand that they can trust in any capacity. With so much uncertainty going around, this is perhaps the single biggest way to impress your customers right now.

  1. Online Presence

If you don’t already have an online presence, make one. If you already have one, keep building. Right now, your customers are online and that’s where you need to be to find them. Make sure that you check out your website, keyword strategies, and your story overall. Being able to reach your customers in their preferred arena or on their preferred channel is going to make a big difference in how well you keep up with them and their ever-changing needs during this delicate time.

  1. Customer Relationships

In building strong customer relationships, you need to be transparent with people and make sure that you address all of their concerns and needs. Right now, people are inundated with panic-inducing product shortages, economic worries, and all kinds of other stresses and fears that they don’t need. Certainly, when they come to you for your product or service, they don’t want any additional stress or confusion. If people feel that you aren’t genuine or that you are hiding things, they’re going to find another brand that they can trust.

  1. Market with Empathy

Remember that your customers today are shopping with more anxiety and attention than ever before. People are being inundated with insincere ads and insensitive marketing campaigns that appear to be taking advantage of the state of the world. In this tumultuous time, the more empathy you can offer, the better. You can still market effectively and make a great statement, but adding some empathy will show your audience that you do care and are concerned about assisting them during this difficult time and into the future. From empathy comes brand loyalty, after all.

  1. Implement Agile Pricing

The economy is changing on a momentary basis, it seems, and it’s often hard to keep up. One of the best ways that you can get your team on the path to success in the current situation is to implement some type of agile pricing structure that can fluctuate with the changing times and still provide you with enough room to turn a profit. Make sure that you can adapt to the constantly changing market and give your customers what they need without overselling or overcharging them based on the current state of things.

It’s About Adaptation

The main takeaway here is the whole point of marketing communications platforms like the Marketing Management Platform in the first place: it’s about being adaptable and flexible to the changing market and economy. It’s about having the right tools in place so that you can easily switch gears and transition into the next marketing strategy. When you embrace all that a solid marketing communications solution has to offer, your team will be ready to shift with any changing tide, no matter how big or small it might be.

Find ways to be helpful and adapt your brand to the new “normal”. Make sure that your strategies and operations are all agile and ready to change on a dime. This kind of flexibility isn’t easy to come by, but it could be what saves your business in the long run. The new world of marketing communications is about being authentic, being helpful, and being the beacon that your customers need to navigate the future of sales in a questionable economy.

Embrace marketing technology, which is all designed to be flexible and adaptable to help you stay connected. Whether it is to keep you connected to your customers when you are out of town or just to help you stay connected with your employees, you can use a number of tech tools to assist with marketing communications and the customer journey. For example, you can use databases and management platforms that will give you 360-degree views of data and metrics about your customers, products, and more. This information can be what helps you implement the best marketing automation platform, lead scoring solutions, and more.

While everything we’ve already discussed is going to be invaluable, that adaptability and agility are what will truly set you apart when it comes to building a successful brand in such an uncertain time. You will be able to look at the customer experience and the sales process, identify points where agility could be improved, and even optimize many processes along the way.

Trust is the Big Issue

Well before the pandemic struck and COVID-19 changed the way that the entire world does business, consumer trust in enterprise brands and the government had basically eroded. Your audience already has a pain point in the trust arena, thanks to big brands and big political issues that have challenged the integrity of many people and companies over the years. Right now, integrity is the name of the game and customers are expecting nothing less than an honest, reputable brand that they can rely on.

If you don’t have a product or service that is relevant to the current situation with the Coronavirus, you have to be extra delicate about how you approach all of your marketing efforts. It's less effective for you to utilize the same marketing principles as those who have products or services related to the current pandemic and helping reduce its risk and spread. The first step in your marketing communications strategy is simple:

Adjust your strategies to align with the expectations and fears of your audience concerning Coronavirus and its impact on the economy. You shouldn’t wait for a problem to pop up before you address the issue. In fact,

When it comes to brand management and marketing, most people assume that all companies lie at least a little bit. However, because of all of the uncertainty and misinformation out there today, consumers also expect the best brands to stop old tactics and come up with a better way of marketing that is sincere, authentic, and not attempting to make light of a bad situation.

Listen, Then Respond

Customers have a lot of feelings and thoughts that they want to share. It is critical for your brand, especially now, to understand what it is that customers feel, what they want, and what they do. You should take the time to monitor their discussions on social media and pay attention to customer service communications and other resources to see what people are feeling and thinking. Once you know what their concerns are, then you can respond accordingly.

You will also want to balance the response that you provide. You should never oversell yourself, but especially not right now. The shortages and instability created by the COVID-19 pandemic still have a lot of people on edge. Therefore, it is always better to stick with the adage to under-promise and over-deliver. On this same note, make sure that you don’t take any short-term perks for your business that might come at the expense of your customers’ trust. Things aren’t easy, but if you have a conversation with your consumer base, it won’t be difficult to keep things moving forward.

Anticipate Everything

If there is one thing that the Coronavirus outbreak has taught us in the world of marketing, it is that you really never will be ready for everything. You might think you are prepared for just about everything that could come your way, but no one could have anticipated or prepared for this. We're all left a little unprepared, bewildered, and not sure where to go from here. Take this as a lesson for next time, and start anticipating every possible outcome and scenario that could happen as a result of your next business move.

When you can anticipate what’s next, you’ll have a better chance of developing strong marketing strategies that send just the right message. You'll be able to give your customers the tools and resources that they need, and more importantly the peace of mind that they can rely on your brand. You should also anticipate a drop in your sales that will impact your spending budget and allocate your marketing and branding funds appropriately.

There are going to be several operational hiccups and impacts that happen over the course of the next year or so just as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This isn’t including the traditional evolution of marketing over the years or the fact that things can still change on a dime. You can never really be fully prepared for every single possible outcome, but a little research and planning can go a long way to help you optimize your marketing communications, find better management solutions, and reduce waste and downtime across the entire organization.

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

There's a reason this saying is so popular—it's usually true. While you can hope that all of this goes off without a hitch and you can adapt to marketing in a post-COVID economy, you can’t guarantee that is how things will go. That's why you have to plan for just about anything that could go wrong. As we’ve learned, even things that you may never think to consider in your lifetime could come up and create havoc all over the place.

If you’re ready to get started on revamping your marketing efforts for the COVID economy, contact the team at FuseBox One today. Our marketing operations & sales enablement professionals are standing by to help you make the best impression in light of this pandemic and utilize the channels available to let people know that your brand is doing its part to keep everyone safe and still provide people with the products or services that they need.


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Topics: Marketing Operations, Marcom, Pandemic