Safe to say, none of this years’ predictions named hand sanitizer, tinned veg or loo roll as the big winners of 2020, but here we are. Three months into the new decade and customers have stopped scrambling for the latest tech trend and instead we’re leaning into brands and products your grandparents would definitely recognize.
For companies selling non-essential products, primarily in-store, 2020 is looking tough. But the reality is there are still targets to hit and business plans to keep on track, so what can you do from a marketing perspective to make sure you hit the ground running when this is all over?
Keep talking to your customer
Whether it’s reaching out to talk about extending opening hours, offering new products, helping disseminate government advice, fighting fake news or even just keeping people’s spirits up, it’s important to keep in contact with your customers so they don’t forget about your brand. Using email comms is effective for those who are opted in, while mobile advertising can help you reach a wider audience base. If you’re concerned about appearing next to the news agenda, consider using in-app mobile inventory on gaming or service-based apps. These environments are a brand-safe space where you can reach your audience.
Think upper-funnel and brand building
Branding as a marketing strategy can often be overlooked in favour of more short-term lead generation and sales strategies. Now is a good time to turn to brand building, particularly if the idea of ‘buy this’ feels a little exploitative and not in-tune with customer’s priorities right now. Think about using video advertising on mobile, desktop and TV, if budget allows, to emphasise what your brand really stands for and why you exist. Use this opportunity to widen your audience at the top of the funnel, you can focus on lower-funnel sales tactics when things feel more back to normal.
Use location to get people into your stores – where it’s safe to do so
This won’t be appropriate for every brand – Apple have even closed all their stores outside China. But where it is safe and sensible, you can encourage customers into your stores. Target people within a 5-minute walk of your store so they don’t take public transport to get there, publicise your opening hours and any delivery services. Send customers alerts to make sure they know what to do if they have symptoms. A clever stock look-up API integrated into a mobile format could even let your customers know if you have what they need as they walk past.
Take time to regroup
History shows that after epidemics like SARS, consumer buying springs back stronger than ever. It’s important that when we do return to our day-to-day spending, consumers turn to your brand and not your competitors. Make sure you’ve got your plan-of-action in place and ready to go, be agile and keep your eyes trained on the future.
This is a tough period for everyone. But marketers are some of the most creative, innovative and entrepreneurial-minded people on the planet. There’s good times for our industries up ahead.
Look out for your neighbours, follow the WHO guidelines and stay safe.
Christophe Collet is chief executive officer at S4M