How Marketing Strategies Need to Change Because of COVID-19
Since March 2020, the world has gone into a stand-still as COVID-19 rapidly spread across the entire globe.
13:28 05 September 2020
Announced officially as a pandemic, the coronavirus originated from Wuhan and soon led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in Asia and Europe.
Presently, there are over 20 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, where the United States is currently the country with the highest number of 5 million cases.
As the majority of the world adopted a quarantine strategy, everybody has been ordered to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of this pandemic.
With these sets of orders, many countries were forced to close down in the meantime non-essential businesses, schools, and entertainment venues, such as concert halls and movie theaters.
Although the United States and other nations have introduced different phases of re-opening businesses when safer conditions have arisen, many of them have not survived the pandemic.
From famous companies to small businesses, the pandemic has deeply devastated the United States economy to the point of reaching a serious depression.
Many companies were forced to declare bankruptcy. Even though that does not necessarily mean the end for these businesses, the bankruptcies illustrate the negative impact of the pandemic on an economic scale.
With people staying at home more than ever before, the focus on e-commerce has increased while offline sales have plummeted.
Some of the major businesses that have filed for bankruptcies include J.Crew, Hertz, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, Pier 1 Imports, GNC, Cirque du Soleil, Muji, and Lord and Taylor.
Despite these unfortunate effects of the coronavirus, there is still hope in the survival of the business, especially when applying different kinds of strategies on a completely different battlefield.
The coronavirus is affecting consumer mobility, media consumption habits, and supply chains, such as economic volatility. Companies have to construct a new marketing plan to alleviate the downside risk or somehow collect all of the more positive aspects of the situation.
According to Kathy Bachmann, GM of Americas with the consultancy Analytic Partners Inc., adjustments in marketing strategies have already been in the works.
Companies have been directing investments toward marketing tactics that focus on online sales and shifting budgets to advertising at-home and delivery-based options, for example.
The core of the new marketing strategy needed during a global pandemic breaks down to building strong relationships between the customers and the business owners.
People feel disconnected more than ever from each other due to the isolation and quarantine necessary to survive the coronavirus, and businesses can take this sense of loneliness to elevate the authenticity and sincerity of their brand and regard to their user base.
The world is not only facing a major health crisis but also a period of social unrest, as seen with George Floyd’s death in police custody that became the spark of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Businesses have to create brand new marketing tactics in this climate that will be profitable while also maintaining a level of sensitivity to the difficulties people are going through currently.
Instead of showcasing the desire of getting something in return or being in the mindset of solely selling a product or service, companies should orient themselves around the themes of kindness and generosity and not circumventing the topic of the pandemic.
Marketing expert David Meerman Scott has mentioned that several companies have adopted this mentality, as seen with the manufacture of stylish masks in response to the pandemic.
Duracell also gave away free batteries to the first responders and health care workers that needed them, which is a great marketing strategy that emphasizes the company’s focus on togetherness rather than just strictly business.
Social media and email marketing have become the main front of the marketing tactics in these pandemic times.
Emails are used mainly to notify a company’s customer base on new lines of products and reopenings, especially in these times. With that in mind, marketers should consider phrasing their emails with more authenticity to ensure a stronger relationship with the users.
While marketing experts recommend involving the pandemic into their strategies, they are not necessarily suggesting to focus on the negativity too much in the marketing campaigns.
Instead, marketers advise creating tactics that acknowledge the pandemic in a relatable manner, which can be done easily with the use of social media.
For example, RewardStyle encourages “that for every 5 posts, you make 2 posts relatable about life at home and 3 posts about shopping” to mold “a softer sell in your feed while continuing to guide your followers during this time.”
Rather than centering around the negativity of COVID-19 - and there is plenty of that - these new marketing strategies should somehow maintain the pandemic’s existence in a way that promotes a sense of community between the customers and the business owners.
With this pandemic and the rise of social media marketing, influencers have become a significant part of the new marketing campaign due to the level of authenticity expected in this position, as any branding agency would tell you.
By being able to speak directly with their followers, influencers are capable to build strong relationships filled with trust. This kind of responsibility and power influencers have allowed them to have a connection with people, which is needed more than ever in these times.
Although businesses and brands are struggling during this health crisis, it seems that step by step they have been excelling.
While movie theaters have been closed for months, drive-in theaters have gained new-founded popularity due to the safety of being outdoors rather than indoors during the pandemic.
Movie theaters are only about to open their doors for the first time this upcoming weekend, and they are using the marketing tactic of spreading kindness and great deals without any expectation of reciprocity.
As large companies and small businesses get their groove back amid this pandemic, new marketing strategies should be introduced in their business models in a way that does not ignore the health crisis, but rather promotes togetherness and community in their campaign.
Marina Turea works as Content Manager at Digital Authority Partners