Marketing expectations as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Business owners can get a little hopeful about recent announcements from the Queensland Government.   We anticipate a staged relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months.   When this happens and local business owners can return to servicing clients face-to-face, the economy will be recovering from a shock that’s expected to take months to play out.  If you’ve managed to stay focussed during the current health and economic crisis and you’re ready to roll out marketing to kick-start business again you’ll be aware that competition is expected to increase, communication online is changed and the competitive landscape has likely shifted as the result of the Coronavirus Pandemic ‘lockdowns’.  All this happened at warp speed and we’re now experiencing the fallout.

So what is your plan?  There are three things in particular that I’m seeing right now.

1. Increased competition

It’s clear that for industries with consumer demand as a key driver there will be tougher competition.  Even the most comfortable business is now looking at what they can do to maintain revenue and profitability.  This ranges from spending more on marketing to recover lost business, to taking a closer look at budgets to ensure they are as efficient and effective as possible.  Business owners are also researching options more than usual to get on top of what’s available and reconsider current marketing strategies given the changed situation.  And you should do this.  It is difficult to talk about this as a business when you’re at risk of cost-cutting, but there’s also a degree of ethics required here and we cannot skip around the fact that spending will be reduced and revenue under pressure on all sides.  So every cent of spending needs to be smart and justified.  Whatever you do,  be careful that short term financial gains from cost-cutting don’t throw future revenue and profitability under the bus (or keep you so tied up in low cost work you miss future opportunities).

2. Business repositioning

Increased competition coupled with the restrictions we’ve faced has led to some interesting repositioning and repackaging of products and services.  Many have moved online with an updated business model.  This means a number of local businesses will actually return to normal trading with an additional revenue stream from operating face-to-face as well as online.  I’ve seen a few uncover completely different applications for their services to maintain revenue.  If you’re not doing this yourself you may face a competitor who is or someone who previously wasn’t a competitor but now is.  Price pressures are known to increase during economic crisis.  If you’re going head to head with another on price how will you deliver more value?  Or on any front? So many business owners I speak to initially don’t really own a position.  It’s essential to get granular about just what it is you do well (that is most in demand) so you can claim a distinct position in your market and avoid ‘like for like’ competition.

Data will help you pick up changes in the market fast so make sure you know where to get your key data and have tracking in place.  Changes are immediately apparent with search marketing and online advertising trends and this data helps to uncover opportunities too.  Keep talking to everyone you meet who owns a business.  You’ll learn and you may be able to help each other out or collaborate.

3. Marketing communication is changing

‘During times of crisis, leading companies are pivoting from marketing to helping and from fulfilling desires to meeting customer needs’.  (McKinsey Insights 4/15/2020).

Any laggers out there still doing old school ‘shouty’ sprays of advertising without considering their audience needs will not be rewarded in the current digital environment.  Random sales posts on Facebook were ignored before COVID-19 but now, they may also offend or annoy enough to prompt an unfollow.  Customers and communities need empathy and support right now.  Review your marketing communications to make sure it’s not all about you (it hasn’t been for ages anyway) and when you reach out, keep that in mind.  Perceptions of value are situational so we’re sure to find customer perceptions changed in the coming months.  Marketing must align with this.

This weeks consideration is: will you need to update your offer to continue to deliver value that satisfies?