For Businesses to succeed post COVID-19 their marketing strategies will have to change for the balance of 2020 and into the future.
During the COVID-19 pandemic many companies, small and large alike have found new methods, to generate new prospects, win new, and keep existing customers. Changing their marketing and sales tactics, developing and implementing new technologies and even creating new products relevant to the pandemic to keep their businesses solvent during these times.
Companies have altered their manufacturing lines, changing over to produce everything from ventilators to PPE. While businesses are starting to reopen, normalcy is far from reality, if ever possible again. It’s been reported, when asked, 35% of employees working remotely would prefer to continue working remotely post pandemic. Many millions of people are still out of work or their businesses have been dramatically affected, to many will never reopen again. Retail names we grew up with are piling up on the ash heap of the pandemic carnage, and soon will become a distant memory. Our retail interactions and the way we purchase our products and services have changed for the foreseeable future, possibly for ever. Online purchases, for obvious reasons, skyrocketed during the pandemic. All indications point to the retail public re-evaluating how and what they’re purchasing, and have re-evaluated their personal priorities on so many levels.
So, where we go from here is anyone’s guess. The following are 5 marketing and sales predictions we are expecting to see as business reopen post-pandemic.
Some Smaller businesses will find it difficult to survive, While the biggest companies will get even bigger.
It’s not surprising to learn, the largest tech companies are growing even more powerful during and will continue that power grab after this pandemic. While many well-established bricks and mortar retailers are closing stores or filing bankruptcy in these last few months. Amazon, thanks to its business model, was set up for and became the go to retailer to the world during this crisis. Video conferencing turned Zoom into a household word, for both performing business activity as well as social interactions. (How many of us prior to the pandemic attended a Zoom party or a Zoom happy hour?) Zoom Filled the contact gap, providing us some form of social interaction. Sure, there were security issues as they grow from 10 million daily meetings in December 2019 to 300 million daily meetings in May, 2020. Zoom is looking to hire 500 software engineers to address their increased meeting volume and address their security issues.
Though, it’s difficult to predict the future for small and medium sized businesses. There are predictions that 25% of restaurants and thousands of small & medium businesses could permanently close their doors as a direct result of the government-imposed restrictions and lock down. Despite the federal government awarding over $350 billion in small & medium business loans, during this crisis. Many businesses were just not financially prepared for this crisis not having the necessary cash reserves to weather the shutdown. Their specific industry’s will largely determine their continued length of closure and how difficult their recovery may become, but I am sure no one will deny. Survival for most will be an uphill battle.
Members of the Hospitality, seasonal business and the tourism industry voiced a 66% survival outlook if the crisis lasted only one month, and we are well beyond that prediction. Summer tourism towns have the potential of loosing most of their season, which may be fatal to many of those small businesses.
Barbers, hair & nail saloons as well as other personal service business are starting to reopen in most states. For those businesses re-opening, their survival or even the goal of exceeding pre crises sales levels will require change. Most will have to re-imagine their method of doing businesses. They will have to reduce overhead, renegotiate leases and contracts, add or change products or services offerings, with the goals of reducing overhead costs and creating new revenue streams.
Business will see more of the sales cycle happening online.
It has become a general belief, though often debated, prior to COVID-19, in the B2B marketing community, up to 60% of the sales cycle takes place before the prospect makes first contact. I believe that percentage. The reality is, most consumers have access to a tremendous amount of information on any product or service they are interested in purchasing. And an exceptionally large number of them do their research extensively online before contacting a salesperson.
With many brick and mortar businesses closed the last few months, even more purchases have transacted online. Businesses and individuals who previously did most of their purchases in person. Now out of necessity have become comfortable with making many of their purchases online, everything from groceries to cars.
These new purchasing habits have been embraced and are becoming more of the norm, even after stores begin to re-open. Buying online with curbside pickup will continue to be more common, even after the economy re-opens. As purchasers will expect an additional level of safety, added convenience, and the time savings, associated with more of the sales processes occurring online.
For many bricks and mortar business, implementing a solid strategy to transition more of their sales process online is critical for them to be competitive in a post COVID-19 business environment. Now is the perfect time to execute that strategy, and reduce overhead through new technology, add new profit centers and make your business competitive and ready to meet the new expectations of your consumers.
Digital Marketing Equals Brand Success.
Digital marketing is how you meet new prospects, and stay in touch with current customers.
So, you’ve moved more of your sales cycle online. Now its time to introduce yourself to your new prospects and continue the conversation with current customers. Start by engaging them on the social media platforms their spending most of their time on. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, You Tube and any other platforms your potential customers are spending their time. Don’t limit yourself to the large well know platforms. Consider using smaller industry association communities, and targeted business communities. Long term, the best marketing strategy is, find out where your customers are and make sure you’re there too.
If you’re a B2B or B2C business will determine which social media platforms you’ll concentrate you time and efforts on, and achieve your best results.
Now that you know where your customers are, you’ll have to use multiple formats to engage with them. Some of your choices are, content marketing campaigns, including posting articles, white papers, short videos up to longer webinars. Depending on the size of your company you may host or exhibit at a virtual trade show.
Your digital marketing starting to work. Your engaging on your prospect’s social media platforms, your driving traffic to your website, now what? You must prioritize and maximize your visitor’s user experience. The days of getting away with your website being a static billboard as visitors drive by on the information superhighway are over. You need to create an interesting and engaging user experience for your visitors. Sure, you’ll want to tell them who you are, what you do, something about your products and services, and how well you do everything. But, you need to make your site eye catching and interesting, give them a reason to stay and click beyond your homepage. Treat your website the same way you treat your store front or show room, make it inviting. Give them a reason to come in, stick around a while and learn more about your business.
You have them engaged, now it’s the job of your website to guide them through their decision-making process. Have clear and appealing calls-to-action. Provide them the opportunity to get their questions answered or to speak with someone, request a quote or download desired information. During these interactions, it’s important to ask their name and their contact information. It provides you the opportunity to continue the conversation. Develop a solid plan for following up with prospects after they’ve shown interest in your goods or services.
Now that all that new traffic is generating website analytics, learn how to interpret those analytics. Collecting visitor data on your website and learning how to use it to create a better user experience, is critical.
Develop an effective non-intrusive informative email marketing program, combined with an educational content marketing program, is a great way to keep the conversation alive.
The total of all these digital marketing interactions is how you build your brand. Your potential client’s user experience on your website is how they’ll remember your company after their digital engagement. How did they feel after they left your website, viewed one of your videos or attended one of your webinars? Were they happy, well informed, were they inspired to share your articles or videos with their contacts and colleagues, do they want to hear form your company again, are they ready to take the next step towards a sale? Or are they frustrated, not satisfied with the information they received, was it a mediocre user experience they’ll probably forget 10 minutes after they click onto your competitors’ site?
Post COVID, they’re not going to be walking into your store or showroom the way they used to, the face to face interaction will become less frequent. Your digital presence and the user experience you provide your visitors must provide a lasting, and positive impression. Make it count!
Increased importance of Customer Service.
The conversation does not end as soon as the prospect becomes the customer. If you want to keep those new and current customers, the post sale conversation is extremely important to the life of your business.
To grow your brand, you need to share helpful customer information, and best practices. Host educational webinars post relevant content, for your customers. Promote a two-way conversation with engaging insight and learn & respond to their feedback they provide.
Due to the pandemic many businesses have been forced to cut budgets until they have a better understanding on when their sales will rebound from the shutdown. They are delaying all types of purchases, large and small. Making it more important for you to double your efforts to continue connecting with your prospects for future success.
As the economy starts to reopen there are signs of business activity. Some industries, consumer goods, construction, and manufacturing have seen an increase, some even seeing sales increases exceeding pre pandemic levels.
Though the private sector bounce back is still in question. With many small business owners still not open or not fully opened, this is presenting an issue which will certainly affect their comeback. The question is, by how much and for how long?
Continuing to engage with your new and prospective customers will become vital to your future success of your business as the economy turns back on. Keep the conversation alive, because if you’re not talking to your customers, someone else will!
Know whats working & whats not, Track your Marketing ROI.
Marketers today are producing more content then ever before, but many haven’t figured out to measure their content’s impact. That is why progressive marketing leaders are moving towards a more revenue focused approach to marketing accountability.
By taking a revenue-focused approach to your marketing plan ensures your marketing strategy provides accountable for its share of the sales forecast. But you need to reconsider the metrics you’re collecting. Your metrics need to be actionable and provide insights that inform decisions, instead of just sound good to justify your marketing budget. Most importantly, they need to generate an ROI, that substantiates your marketing budget.
When you are considering your marketing ROI plan, consider campaign performance, channel performance and business impact. Keep your metrics revenue-focused and prioritize its ROI.
As Marketers become more responsible for the sales they’re generating, tracking ROI throughout your marketing plan becomes more and more important. And when it is done correctly, it can provide actionable guidance, a more efficient use of your marketing budget and an increased business impact.
While everyone has an opinion on how the economy will come out of this pandemic. The reality is no one really knows. The most recent comparison to today’s pandemic occurred over 100 years ago. And current conditions are dramatically different in so many ways. What is clear, is that during this time the greatest opportunities for growth and come back exists and are happening online and through personalized customers engagement. It’s more important than ever before to have a nimble, effective, digital marketing strategy and the inhouse or partnership resources to implement that strategy, analysis it and pivot from it, if and when needed.