According to Entrepreneur.com, 86% of Americans agreed that the COVID-19 crisis will create a new normal and have a lasting impact on society. As companies reel in the wake of the pandemic, business owners must make difficult decisions on where to spend and where to save. According to AdAge.com, the right approach during economic uncertainty is to increase, not decrease, your marketing spend to ensure your business isn’t lagging behind competitors when the economy revs up again. This article will explore marketing tactics you can implement today to help grow your business in a post-COVID-19 world.
CONDUCT A MARKETING AUDIT
Before you can tackle expanding your business, it’s important to take a step back and examine where your company is currently at, both internally and externally. The Harvard Business Review notes that CMOs invested more in marketing analytics in 2020 than any other category as a direct result of the pandemic, citing the need for marketers to make rapid decisions that were still anchored in data. By conducting a marketing audit, you’ll gain a new perspective on your marketing program, allowing you to see what’s working and what isn’t. With real data at your disposal outlining your marketing program’s budget, performance and results, you’ll be able to make decisions based on facts and figures instead of merely conjecture.
SmartBug recommends first describing all marketing goals and objectives, both long-term and short-term, such as increasing company visibility, audience size and market share. Next, create a buyer persona—a representation of your ideal customers based on data and research to help you focus your time on qualified prospects. Next, identify the competition, making note of any overlapping products or services with your own offerings to help you find ways to differentiate yourself. Be sure to map out your entire inventory of marketing assets currently at your disposal, and then analyze the data you’ve assembled to help you create and implement a plan of action that optimizes ROI. For example, if you notice your social posts get more engagement when posted in the morning, be sure to schedule future campaigns during those times to maximize their impact.
MAKE AUTHENTIC CONNECTIONS
According to the Harvard Business Review, in the wake of COVID-19, many marketers pulled back on campaigns and canceled events, focusing instead on communicating with their customers and building community. Sprout Social recommends investing in resources that yield better connections with customers that allow you to get to know them on a more personal level, as data they collected found 64% of consumers want brands to connect with their customers—when people feel connected to a brand, 57% will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from that brand over a competitor.
Inc.com notes that now is not the time to send tons of emails for the sake of communication, but rather sharing information, tools and resources to help consumers get through the ongoing pandemic. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends making your customers needs front and center in all of your communications, whether it’s relevant and timely information or a discount on essential products or services. To identify and adapt to every customer’s unique communications needs, Forbes.com recommends asking them how they would like to receive communications and then meeting them where they are. Consider enabling a scalable solution for SMS if your customers prefer to text, or investing in a customer relationship management tool like HubSpot if email is the preferred method. To uncover people’s shifting attitudes and behaviors, Entrepreneur.com recommends investing heavily in Voice of Customer (VoC) engagement and listening programs that can help provide insights on how to best move forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies in every sector to completely overhaul their marketing plans in order to adapt to their customers in real time. Companies that were agile and able to embrace the transition to virtual were among the first to bounce back economically, with FastCompany.com reporting that as a result of the pandemic, 77% of consumers are now more willing to use technology to avoid interacting face-to-face. WordStream.com highlights the importance of social media as a tool to connect with and get to know your post-COVID customer passively and actively, citing a study from CMO that found 84% of companies were using social media for brand building and more than 54% have used it for customer retention.
SproutSocial.com notes that social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram enable two-way conversations between brands and people at a level of intimacy that other forms of marketing can never achieve. Forbes.com notes that 74% of customers now rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions, with PwC finding that 58% of people have increased their social media use since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 86% expect to maintain their current level of use.
To meet your customers where they are, it’s incredibly important for your business to have an active online presence on social media. Consumers are looking to get to know your company on a more personal level. In fact, in a recent Facebook survey, 62% of respondents said that they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Facebook Stories, so be sure to incorporate this feature into your overall marketing plan. Forbes.com also notes that 67% of consumers consider video to be the most transparent type of social media posts, so consider layering in a behind-the-scenes video into your Facebook strategy to give your customers and authentic glimpse into your company.
While it may seem counterintuitive to lean into spending during a pandemic, research shows that companies who invest in their marketing programs in times of economic uncertainty reap the benefits long after the dust settles. By conducting a marketing audit to assess what’s working and what isn’t and adjusting accordingly, investing time in authentic connections with customers and staying agile and embracing virtual, you’ll ensure your business continues to grow not only now, but post-pandemic as well.
Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information.