Marketing at the time of COVID 19- A consultant’s perspective
We all can see how the Corona Virus scare has disrupted life and business across the world. There is a clear slow down in consumption, travel and even everyday outings and activities. So many businesses are seeing a sharp drop in sales and consumer traffic. It is hard to deal with a situation like this which is completely out of one’s control.
However, I also see this as an opportunity to look at certain business learnings to build lasting consumer loyalty and connect once all this is behind us. Perhaps this is not the right time to look at customer acquisition or sales growth as the objective. But surely one can look at customer engagement, internal efficiency and customer lifetime value as the aim and take certain measures and initiatives. Here are 3 things brands can do:
- Spot the blind spots- COVID 19 has given us a chance to re-look at the way we all do business every day. It is a complete shift for some companies to work from home. Many don’t even have online sales and therefore are suffering even more due to fall in walk-ins. I see this as an opportune time to review ones internal systems and processes and do a marketing+business audit. This period should expose some blind spots that one failed to notice earlier. Are your employees too dated in their approach? Do you need to digitize your business more? Are you too dependent on face to face interactions? What about your HR policies? Are the teams proactive or reactive? Did you get too comfortable in your day to day operations?
- Address emotions- This pandemic has also made people realize a lot about themselves. Their needs versus wants. Their habits versus feel good things in life. Doctors have realized how committed they are, or not. Pilots and airport staff have understood their responsibilities more than ever before. Also, a set of society has had to accept hard hitting facts about how fragile their livelihoods are- like cab drivers or delivery boys. Many of us have realized how dispensable we are at a time like this. All in all, it is a very emotional time with a lot of insights, motivations, pain points and learning. This makes it a time for brands to respond to those emotions and see an opportunity to make a difference in a consumer’s life. It can be done by listening, or providing a solution or even lending a hand.
- The VIP list– This is a good time for firms to make a database of all those clients who are still using their services. I would put these customers on my VIP list for the future. Because they are “your friend in need” and hence a “friend indeed”. Take this opportunity to save their details and offer them a table on priority during rush hour, once things normalize. Or a free XL seat on the plane as a surprise. Tell them you “didn’t forget”. And see how that works like magic in terms of word of mouth and loyalty! The brand could also give a message to customers on how customers must stay safe. Because it is not just the customers who spend a lot on your brand that need to be on the VIP list. Sometimes brands need to acknowledge those customers who are invested in them mentally and physically as well, not just economically. Having said that, one must obviously follow rules of the government and encourage customers to be careful at the time like this. Social distancing is important and must be followed.
In conclusion, desperate times lead to creativity. And that can be seen as an opportunity. So let’s make the best of the situation and learn from it, so that we are better prepared for the future.