No-one could question the hugely negative impact that the global pandemic is spreading across the world. However, among all the difficulties there are ways to adapt, glimmers of hope and opportunity. I wanted to uncover and share some of these ideas and how they could help your business from a marketing perspective.

Putting the customer first

For many, the global pandemic has provided an accelerator to customer-first initiatives, to make their products or services more easily available and accessible to customers. These may have been previously in the pipeline but the cliff-edge effect of March 2020 meant that quick changes became a necessity to keep running. From bars and restaurants using takeaway or delivery options (paid third parties such as Just Eat through to organic social media), to GP surgeries providing online consultations for non-urgent appointments and conferences and training going virtual. Whether or not the urgency existed as a pressure for your business to consider opening up new ways to reach your customer, the end result can open up many opportunities that were previously untapped.

Now that we are in a new phase of transition; partial-openness and partial shielding and semi-lockdown for some, as the schools go back customers will be looking for ways to continue their lives in ways which feel safer or less of a risk.

Stores like home decor company Dunelm are offering virtual shopping to help offer customers remote advice and assistance, as well as sharing trends. The idea attempts to replicate a real-life shopping experience as closely as possible. This adds another option for those who would prefer or need to stay at home and brings added value from in-store expertise, above traditional unassisted ecommerce. It will be interesting to see how this effects average order value in the UK (virtual shopping results in the US indicate a rise in AOV).

Product / service transitioning

One of the best examples of businesses transitioning or pivoting their products or services to meet evolving customer needs is cited by Simon Sinek. He explains how US pizza company Dimo’s adapted to make face shields for healthcare workers, delivered in pizza boxes.

Pizza boxes being handed over

The BBC also reports how various businesses have benefited from changing customer demands and behaviours from the pandemic. Stay at home activities such as crafting, DIY, home entertainment and home exercise are helping certain businesses thrive.

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Successful businesses in these areas need to be tuned into customer demand for providing solutions in the right way. For example, the owner of fitness company Tone and Sculpt has identified that the app was the best option to reach customers when they couldn’t attend the gym or hire a trainer, and app downloads were up 88% year on year in April.

At a time when the automotive industry is in decline, manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover have been providing PPE to the NHS frontline and now schools too.

There are thousands of stories from around the world on how businesses have successfully used digital tools to help them reach customers and work around the crisis.

Key takeaways

  • Consider how you could use all the digital tools at your disposal to reach new customers or new demand. This might involve looking at marketing or contact channels which you don’t currently use as a business. Has your customer changed, or can you open up easier ways to do business with your existing customers? (Consider the Ansoff matrix for other transitions)
  • Convenience and place are now some of the most important aspects of marketing and key drivers for your customers. If you can deliver these whilst adding value and sharing your USPs this will really benefit your customer and translate to sales (as in the Dunelm example).
  • Acting like a startup, with a clean sheet of paper is another great way to adapt. By taking away preconceived barriers and changing the way things are done, it’s possible to reach the same end goal, but in a different or enhanced way. (Another Simon Sinek recommendation.)

So, whilst not everything is rosy in these current times, there are often silver linings to be found and ways to adapt and generate more business.

I regularly help clients uncover opportunities within their business – get in touch to find out more about how I could help you.