As we reach the halfway point of the wildest year of my life as well as many of yours, it is safe to say that 2020 is impacting everything including marketing. COVID-19 seems to have at minimum changed how companies market for the last four months and likely will change the remainder of the year in some capacity. We’ve also now landed in an area where nearly everything is polarizing and forced into two binary positions. Lastly, a shaky economy and increasing unemployment has businesses and individuals tightening their purse strings. The combination of these things has now placed marketers in a tough spot. Not only is there the challenge figuring out how to market strategically through the pandemic, but doing so in a way that is genuine yet inclusive to differing opinion while creating value in a scared marketplace. Sounds like anyone in the marketing area has got their work cut out for them! What can be done?
Identify Your Target Market
There is now a shift in what to consider when considering who your target market may be. If you’re B2B you have to consider the strain of the industry you’re selling into. Broadly, airlines, events and hospitality have been severely impacted while healthcare, government and grocery less so. Marketing to consumers, you have to see if you have a product that creates value to the person/family right now. A few months into this, we’re really seeing what we can offer that is viable in this moment and to whom it is viable, now plan to shift to serve that need for the rest of the year.
Analyze Past Marketing Successes
What worked before March? If it was utilizing webinars, social media and digital efforts you’re probably in position to stay the course. Conversely, if it was trade shows and conferences that drove sales more factors will have to be analyzed. Trade shows are likely to return in some capacity this year, but with travel restrictions, government and general show guidelines and attendee health concerns you can bet it will not be the same for the short term. With changes to product offering, target market and effective strategy all will have to be reevaluated and best opportunities identified. Our company has sold new product categories, to new clients through new channels. Find what works.
Grow Roots in the Community
As mentioned in the open, it’s hard to take a stand as an organization that doesn’t get picked apart and upset a large group of people. One common theme I’ve heard over the past few months though is that people (in both the role of employee and consumer) acknowledge and care for their local communities. As a company you can encourage employees to pursue their own causes as well as dedicating time and resources to local organizations. This doesn’t have to be any kind of political statement, something like cross-promoting with local restaurants and businesses to drive your employees to each other strengthens the community as whole. The point being to focus inwardly with this instead of outwardly. Empty pursuits of PR are seen as such now, be genuine and realistic by embracing those around you (both businesses and people).
This is an extremely challenging time for marketing and business as a whole. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers by any stretch, just some thoughts as someone right in the middle of all of this as well. With a landscaping flipping on end every couple of weeks, vision is something hard to have. The bottom-line is recognition that status-quo in marketing has to be tossed aside for awhile and constantly trying to figure out what works is the key to survival more so now than ever.