November 24, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Every time the world experiences an unprecedented shake-up, things evolve quickly, and a lot is expected of us all.
In the middle of 2019, Covid was still unforeseen. But it has since become a defining feature of the world and business at large. Historically, such times are critical and often see Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory come into play.
In the past, multi-million-dollar businesses have been upended during pandemics, wars, and plagues. One lesson stands out from this history: only a business that learns how to adapt can be considered “fit” and ready to survive — or even thrive.
Marketing is the lifeblood of every business, and also a vital aspect of building a fit business that can thrive post-Covid. Here are a few key ingredients you need to build your “business fitness.”
1. Empathetic marketing
Now more than ever, what we say and how we say it is important. A Nigerian Arizona State University student recently raved on LinkedIn about a note sent to her by the university. This note was supposedly sent to the school’s entire Nigerian contingent, and was what we call “checkup mail,” asking how the student was doing in light of the recent Endsars protests in Nigeria.
The post easily went viral for one reason: people identify with empathy faster than anything else.
A post-Covid world would be a fragile and sensitive one, in which your customers might have lost someone. It is wise to send more messages that identify with people’s pain. It is important to gradually steer a good percentage of your customer outreach toward identifying with people’s struggles and offering help or insight where possible.
This might not be a standard mode of marketing your goods or services, but rather marketing through the powerful instrument of empathy. This is typically magnetic and will reflect in patronage for your business.
2. Work with feedback
Your customer’s concerns have changed, people’s priorities have changed, and it is only reasonable that the approach of your marketing changes as well.
One thing that seems to be of great concern for customers going forward is health and cleanliness standards. As businesses reopen amidst a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, customers are being drawn to businesses that exhibit high standards of cleanliness and health consciousness.
You need to work hard on getting feedback from your customers about their particular concerns, and use the feedback and research to remodel your offerings. For instance, it might be a good idea to include subtle mentions of your cleanliness standards in your ads and correspondence.
In a recent article, Gartner’s Frances Russell points out that many marketers who deployed surveys about Covid-19’s impact on customer experience have seen actionable responses. You should do your own research to gain insight into your customer base.
This often requires a highly mobile marketing team who can diligently engage your customer base, update your customer personas, identify their concerns, and make suggestions to the business.
3. Re-evaluate the best marketing medium
Just before the pandemic, there was a lot of hype about the value of e-mail marketing. It was considered very valuable at the time, and to a great extent remains so.
E-mail campaigns will likely always have great marketing value. But during the pandemic, businesses have run campaigns a bit too enthusiastically — and this has resulted in customers being inundated by thousands of emails.
These businesses were offering insight into the pandemic, giving vital information, or offering some form of help, but the sheer volume caused an increase in unopened email, along with scam e-mail of all kinds. Google reportedly blocked 18 million Covid-related scam emails daily during the height of the pandemic’s first wave. It is safe to say e-mails are not as “hot” as they were pre-Covid.
You may need to re-think the best medium to communicate with your customers. According to MediaPost, 77% of consumers have a positive perception of companies that offer SMS as a communication channel. And research shows that SMS marketing produces engagement rates 6-8 times higher than email marketing. This statistic has even more relevance in a post-Covid world.
Businesses all differ, and the ideal mediums might differ as well. But no one should assume that things have stayed the same throughout this pandemic.
To thrive in a post-Covid world, you likely need to re-evaluate your marketing mediums and devote more resources to the ones that prove most effective — whether social media, IM, e-mails, etc. You may also need to separate your customer base into different groups based on what medium works best for each segment.
The ability to effectively reach your customers has been greatly hampered by the noise of this pandemic. So it would be wise to start involving your customers in the process of learning how best to reach them.
The power of a marketing effort is contingent on the success of your touchpoints. It is wise to service your machinery and make sure it’s working optimally as we march bravely into a changed world.