Recently, we shared with you some of the top areas of focus you asked to see from us over the next 6 – 12 months and the loudest shout was for marketing support. 

This is a great sign as it indicates a solid understanding of the important GROWisdom we come at you with this week: You can’t sell a secret; meaning if your customers don’t know who you are, what you offer or where to find you, you’ll struggle to grow. Marketing will always remain critical for business growth, no matter what pandemic Alert Level we find ourselves in.

But, before you reach for any of the best-selling marketing textbooks of the past decade, bear in mind that consumer behaviours have changed dramatically during COVID-19 and new marketing trends are now emerging. 

Read on for some of the newest marketing ‘musts’ that’ll help get your business out of the shadows.

You can’t sell a secret

Ever asked a fellow entrepreneur what they do, only to have to awkwardly admit you’ve never heard of their business, knowing that what you’re really telling them is that their marketing could do with some work?!  Don’t let that be you!  To grow, you need to be known as far and wide within your target group as possible. And how we do that in this pandemic-ravaged day and age has changed.

How COVID-19 is changing the marketing game

To state the obvious, a lot changed around the world during lockdown, and business marketing is not immune. Consumer behaviours have evolved and, accordingly to business consultants, McKinsey & Co,  there are six main avenues businesses need to consider to stay relevant.

 

  • 1. Ensure you have an online presence: This one’s not new – but the pandemic has most certainly fast-tracked this digital trend and taken it to new levels.  For SMEs, this requires a rethink around how we connect with consumers virtually, as well as how we manage the new wave of data available online to better personalise our offers and messaging. The detail on where you need to play is in the data; don’t make any decisions without it. Data-led insights can help you identify exactly what your target consumers are looking for and how much they are willing to spend. You can even scope out what your competitors are up to at the same time.A reminder your business maybe eligible for 100% subsided Marketing Strategy support – learn more.

 

  • 2. Consider what e-service you can offer customers: As COVID-19 surges on around the world, consumers are not only buying more online, they’re looking for virtual ways to perform other, traditionally face-to-face tasks, such as banking, entertainment and even seeking medical advice. This increase in consumer confidence around the use of e-services presents us with an opportunity to create new connections with people. If you’re an accountant, a real estate agent, a mortgage broker or even a chef,  consider how you can use e-commerce to future-proof your operations.
  • 3. Make yourself part of the furniture: Never before have consumers spent so much time at home. Lockdown has forced many to repurpose houses into multifunctional living spaces and has created what McKinsey refers to as a ‘homebody economy’. If your business caters to home-based demands, such as food delivery, entertainment subscriptions, home workouts or furnishings and appliances, start considering how you can find a space for yourself in your target customers’ homes, whether through seamless integration to your customers’ phones, tablets or TV screens, or through home-based virtual assistants, such as Alexa or Google Home.
  • 4. Local is the new global: With borders shut around the world for the foreseeable future, kiwis are turning inwards and looking to support local communities wherever possible – and they’re increasingly proud to do so.  Businesses need to jump on board the local bandwagon and market themselves accordingly. This approach requires SMEs to build on our understanding of personalisation to ensure we remain relevant to changing consumer demands and expectations. Again, data plays an important role here.
  • 5. Work on building trust: Establishing brand trust is marketing 101, and COVID-19 has given many businesses the opportunity to claim new ground in this space. Whether by addressing concerns and expectations around hygiene for face-to face stores, or by offering relevant new propositions that entice consumers to switch to your brand from another. McKinsey’s research shows that roughly 20 percent of US consumers have switched to a store brand during the pandemic, and almost half of them intend to stick with their new choices. Maintaining customer trust when it comes to data and privacy concerns can also become a source of competitive advantage.
  • 6. Communicate your purpose: The current crisis is expected to accelerate the trend towards socially conscious shopping.  To win in this environment, you need to openly communicate what your brand or business stands for and how it wants to make a genuine difference. You can do this through the projects you choose to associate yourself with, partners/suppliers you choose to work with and the workplace culture you foster for your own employees, to name a few options. Whatever you do, don’t be seen to be ‘taking advantage’ of the crisis we find ourselves in. Your actions need to be consistent and aligned with your values and consumer base.