I want to convince you that Marketing is imperative during this unprecedented time of the COVID19 pandemic spread. Even if your business stops temporarily to comply with the Government restriction, Marketing will still bring to your business the much-needed awareness and loyalty.
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been significantly detrimental to many businesses large and small from all sorts of angles. Unless you are in the business of producing toilet papers, hand sanitizers or any type of sanitising products, your business during this unprecedented time may have experienced drastic and detrimental disruption.
A common strategy adopted by many companies is to cut expenses which resulted in job cuts and other cost-saving measures. Marketing is often subjected to such cuts; businesses pull off a bulk if not all their marketing investment to sustain solvency. Whilst some businesses have no choice as they are required to shut shop to comply with Government restriction on non-essential businesses and/or activities, other businesses cut Marketing budget to save money in the short term.
No doubt if marketing is perceived as an expense (instead of an investment), then cutting it off seems like a sound business strategy. We need to ask ourselves: is this strategy sustainable for the long term benefit of brand awareness and recognition?
The demand for products and services that existed pre-COVID-19 still exists in the period of pandemic spread. The demand may have been temporarily de-prioritised, substituted or unfulfillable NOW due to the restrictions in place, but the demand remains. The argument is: if a business opportunity is still up for grabs, would you not put your best foot forward and make a sale?
To illustrate, allow me to share my recent personal experience. We couldn’t fulfil our planned holiday trip to Hawaii because our flights were cancelled due to the travel ban. Whilst we can appreciate why we couldn’t fulfil our long-awaited holiday trip, we are still deeply disappointed because our needs are not met.
Out of desperation for a holiday, we’ve substituted Hawaii with the Sunny Gold Coast and departed on the same day we were meant to depart to Hawaii. This was before the social distancing restriction was enforced - it should have been called “physical distancing” and not social distancing but that would be for another blog (sorry, I digressed). The point is, we’ve substituted our trip for now and have every intention to realising our holiday plan to Hawaii at the earliest possibility. And there are many just like us, broadly speaking.
I want to convince you that marketing is so essential right now as there are loads of opportunities out there in the market at the present. My heart goes out to businesses and people that are doing it tough and really do not have a choice; but if you do have the luxury of maintaining some level of marketing activities, I would encourage you to consider. We need to roll with the punches and exercise our adaptability to come out strong on the other side.
We’ve witnessed recently a surge of demand for sanitising products and services, as well as hardware and software that makes remote working possible. It’s a windfall for businesses that have been serving that market prior to the pandemic becomes apparent.
We’ve also witnessed companies pivoting their offerings and intensified their marketing activities to quickly build product/service awareness in the market. Marketing becomes critical for the survival of the business because it is imperative to quickly gain awareness and acquisition in a market they have not primarily (or ever) served in previously. The biggest challenge is making themselves relevant to audiences they may have never engaged with in the past. Here are some examples.
Australian Skin Institute offers the most effective cosmeceutical skincare products as their core business. Recently, they moved their supplementary product line to the front and centre of their marketing activities to leverage from unmet demands. ASI’s antibacterial product line was never a part of the core promotion but has now taken an unprecedented position in their marketing priority.
Did you know that 13CABS now offers Parcel Delivery? They have always been able to offer such service with the infrastructure they had, but goods delivery was not a primary offering, people moving is. With the increasing demand for goods delivery, the business pivoted to meet the growing demands. 13CABS used their Facebook Page to announce the service in a relatable way.
McDonald’s has also chipped in to making essential food more accessible. You can now conveniently pick up basics fast, safe and contact-free at the drive-thru. This is not the first time Macca’s pivoted in their business. To disassociate themselves from the ‘fast-food’ image, most of Macca’s diner was renovated to a family-friendly venue and added healthier options to realise the ‘family-restaurant’ brand association. This a McClassic example of a successful marketing pivot.
Will people remember your brand on the other side of the pandemic? Who will your target market go with when time permits their unfulfilled demands can be finally satisfied. Eventually, everyone will need to visit the dentist for an overdue checkup; people who have been restricted to stay at home for 6 months would want to catch up with family and friends at restaurants; health-conscious people will try to register for a new gym membership; the list goes on. Who will they remember?
Without a doubt, marketing plays a significant role now in influencing people’s purchasing decisions, not just for present demands, but also for the long term. Generally, people are yearning for the pandemic to end and look forward to returning to normal life. If you are like me, you may have a mental list of priorities you want to do that you are not able to get to now. Am I alone in constantly thinking about: “When this is all over, I’m going to…”? The challenge is in maintaining your brand in people’s top of mind even though your business offering won’t be accessible until the end of the pandemic.
I think 100% Pure New Zealand has been effectively building their presence in the tourism market. They have been sharing images of picturesque locations and beautifully written copies. Unsurprisingly, the posts have been shared and engaged with by many.
“Supportive Marketing” is a trending term of late, along with “Emotional Marketing” and “Relationship Marketing”. As there is a lot of pain and uncertainty in this difficult period, people respond well to empathetic collaterals. What people need right now during a time of uncertainty are some love and support, particularly to individuals that have been most affected. Any supportive messages or gestures to ease the pain will surely be appreciated and remembered.
Leverage your online presence to display genuine care and support. Perhaps engage the social media with uplifting posts, broadcast COVID-smart business ideas via EDMs or run co-branded campaigns.
Here’s a pro-tip: be sensitive with the choice of text and tone you broadcast to the public. Where possible, avoid using anxiety-inducing words such as “virus”, “lockdown”, or “danger”. If it is essential to use those terms, wrap them with supportive messaging and offers. At all times, you want to stay away from shocking, distasteful and opportunistic messaging.
Kudos to the Australian Government and all Aussies who have been fighting the virus in their own way and capacity. Hats off to everyone in the frontline for keeping all the essential services running. The infection rate has dropped and things are definitely looking up. Shortly, we will go back to what we once know as a normal life.
We’ve braced ourselves for the storm, now it’s time to brace ourselves for the end of the pandemic.
All of us from CBO, wishes you and family good health and safety.