Within just a few months, the world as we know it has changed in response to COVID-19. Naturally, transformations to life and work result in new challenges and shifting marketing trends for businesses. To provide you with clear advice in these uncertain times, we talked with entrepreneur and startup business consultant Luke Lazarus.
Lazarus shared his thoughts on how marketing trends have changed and what businesses can do to adapt effectively and compassionately. Read on to learn how you can prepare for possible outcomes and embrace unique opportunities.
About Luke Lazarus
Luke Lazarus is an entrepreneur, startup business consultant, and graduate of Melbourne Business School. After beginning his first business at age eight, Lazarus earned his executive MBA at just 24. He then went on to start and sell four successful firms, all before his thirty-third birthday.
Today, Lazarus has nearly a decade of experience building effective business plans, managing growth, and offering insights to CEO’s in Australia and internationally. He identifies, defines, and addresses the issues that are vital to the success of modern businesses and emphasizes the importance of establishing a core mission and strategic vision.
Whether working with startups or struggling businesses, Lazarus specializes in business plans, investor presentations, market research insights, go-to-market plans, financial projections, and operational improvement. In just a short amount of time, he provides businesses with the insight and advice they need to build or gain momentum, resulting in long-term growth and success for his satisfied clients.
COVID-19 and Shifting Marketing Trends
In response to COVID-19, key shifts impacting marketing trends include:
- People are spending more time online for learning, communication, and entertainment.
- In the current economic climate, many consumers are adjusting their spending habits. Some people are spending money only on necessities, while others may be taking more of a “wait and see” approach.
- With social distancing practices and government mandates, it has become difficult for many brick and mortar businesses to generate profit.
- Businesses located near popular conferences or sporting events that have now been cancelled are also impacted, as these businesses often depend on the revenue earned during these major events.
- In general, COVID-19 has positively impacted the profits of delivery services, but it has had a severe negative effect on industries that put people in close contact with one another.
- The pandemic also affects businesses that are supply-chain reliant on areas deeply impacted by COVID-19. Shipment delays and slowdowns are a common issue for these businesses.
- Businesses that are not directly affected by COVID-19 may still experience declining profits due to lay-offs in other industries and economic uncertainty.
- There is still a great deal of uncertainty about how communities, individuals, and businesses will move forward in the coming months, creating a need to be flexible and adaptable.
How to Market in a COVID-19 World
Now, how can your business develop a marketing strategy that is responsive to these shifting marketing trends? Luke Lazarus weighs in with these key tips.
Invest More in Digital Advertising
With consumers spending more time online, focus your efforts on digital advertising. Social media marketing can be especially effective (and cost effective) in the current climate.
To reduce spending, emphasize direct to consumer marketing and personalized digital marketing. Limit paid campaigns, especially campaigns related to products that are non-essential.
Keep in mind, however, that paid advertisements are likely more affordable than usual right now. As consumers spend more time online, ad inventory increases. At the same time, actual purchases are declining or remaining the same. This makes paid ads cheaper, potentially increasing your return on investment.
So, focus on digital marketing and limit paid advertising as much as possible. If you have money in the budget and a product that is a necessity or could be useful to people at this time, you may also wish to invest in a more affordable paid advertising campaign.
Provide Clear Information on Your Response to COVID-19
Although receiving emails about every company’s response to COVID-19 may grow tiresome, clear messaging about your response to the pandemic is essential. What are you doing to ensure the safety of both your employees and your customers?
If you don’t want to take the mass email approach, you can post on social media about the safety measures you are taking. You can also add this messaging to your website in prominent type, and/or include it in automated emails to consumers who make a purchase from you.
People want to know that you care about their health and safety. Especially now, consumers want to spend money with compassionate brands that they trust.
Closely Watch Product Inventory
Stay ahead of supply chain issues by closely watching your product inventory. Think about potential production issues and slowdowns as you plan your marketing campaigns.
For instance, if you are running low on a product that may take a while to restock, pull back on marketing that product and focus on others. If you do run out of the product, what will you do in the meantime? Will you allow customers to preorder? Will you ask them to provide an email address for alerts when the product becomes available again? What messaging will you use to explain that the product is unavailable for an unknown length of time?
During these uncertain and ever-changing times, thinking ahead of the curve is crucial for businesses. Keep a close eye on your inventory, think through possible scenarios, and have a plan in place for each one.
Closely Watch Consumer Behavior
You’ll also need to closely watch consumer behavior and data. Be ready and willing to adapt, understanding that you may need to change your approach in unique ways during this unprecedented time. Staying flexible is key.
Consider your target audience. If many of them have disposable income, their buying habits may not change significantly. Expect those with limited disposable income to cut back on spending, particularly in non-essential areas.
Prepare for all possible outcomes and remain open to new opportunities. For example, many companies with live events are switching to digital platforms instead of cancelling their events entirely. Although this typically means reducing ticket prices, you can sell more tickets for a digital event than for a live event with limited capacity.
What are your consumers buying right now? What are they not buying? What needs do they have at the moment, and is there any way you can help meet them? Track the data, stay flexible, and be ready to creatively problem-solve. Organization-wide brainstorming sessions can help get fresh and impactful ideas on the table.
Focus on Relationships and Brand-Building
Ultimately, even if you follow all of these tips, most businesses should expect some decline in sales as we respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, it’s wise to focus more on relationship and brand-building than sales.
This may sound counterintuitive. However, taking a compassionate approach to your advertising now can build trust and loyalty that will last for years to come. Many companies, for example, have reduced prices on helpful resources and products. Others have created new resources to help their customers manage recent life changes.
Share with existing and prospective customers that you understand their struggles and are there for them now, and they will remember and return to your business in better times.
Similarly, now is a great time to build your brand and flesh out your brand story. What is your company’s niche? What’s your mission? How are you different from your competitors? What is your story, and how will you tell it to consumers? These are questions you probably answered when creating your business, but you likely have time now to revisit them and work on the storytelling aspect of your marketing strategy.
By building relationships and enhancing your branding, you’ll emerge from these difficult times even stronger than before.
Final Thoughts: Luke Lazarus on How to Respond to Shifting Marketing Trends
As a top startup consultant, Luke Lazarus excels in business strategy and planning. As you plan your marketing strategy in the midst of COVID-19, he recommends that you:
- Invest more in digital marketing, limiting paid campaigns.
- Provide customers and potential customers with clear information on safety measures related to COVID-19.
- Closely watch product inventory and customer behavior, planning for potential outcomes and staying open to new opportunities.
- Prioritize building relationships and building your brand.
It’s important to remain open-minded, flexible, and ready to adapt during these unique times. Be willing to think outside of the box and solve new problems with new and creative solutions. Establish trust by treating your customers with compassion and empathy. Although 2020 is unlikely to be your most profitable year yet, keeping these strategies in mind will help you adapt, survive, and ultimately thrive.
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