Most businesses’ sales have been affected by lockdown for better or worse. It’s clear that people are spending more time online and this presents opportunities for business growth – but it also kind of doesn’t. It just creates more advertising space online.
The opportunity comes from what you do to make the most of reaching target markets digitally: one of the quickest collective mindset changes in history is taking place around us, so the future belongs to businesses that understand this shift and plan their marketing activity around it.
So, the question is: what matters to consumers in a post-lockdown world?
Networking and community participation
As humans, networking and relationship building have always been important to us and how we run our businesses. But now more than ever, communities are at the forefront of our everyday lives.
Remember when your LinkedIn feed was full of boastful posts about ‘success’, ‘strategy’ and ‘synergy’, with images of cars, somebody’s dream office space or mortgage-free 18-year-olds? People came across as materialistic and cocky without a second thought: it was the done thing. It was the space to talk about how great you’re doing.
Now, the LinkedIn feed is a much more collaborative space: people seeking advice, looking for trusted suppliers, sharing information about friends or colleagues made redundant and seeking new opportunities, valuable blogs and articles and businesses pledging to provide support for those in the industry whose jobs didn’t make it through Covid.
Community matters now more than ever. Try incorporating an element of networking within your next marketing campaign, whether that be with a discussion point on social media, a virtual or physical networking event or taking steps to build relationships with key players in your market – for example if you sell online tuition services, teachers, after school clubs or a dentist might be beneficial to you.
An influencer doesn’t have to have a tonne of social media followers or even ‘be influential’, they just have to have the ear of your target market. Trust me, when it comes to online tuition, a parent is more likely to take advice from their dentist before an Instagram star that promotes Domino’s Pizza. Children visit dentists, get an ad in there.
Takeaway: go beyond your social media feeds to build genuine relationships and aim to meet your markets’ networking requirements. As you build and develop your network make sure you stand out for the right reasons.
With people looking to future-proof their prospects, consumers are turning to personal development and bolstering skills and expertise to better position and prepare themselves for the uncertain road ahead. Can you educate your markets as part of your next marketing campaign? Give them something that’s going to improve their lives, prospects, opportunities or business in some way.
It’s an opportunity to share your expertise with your prospective market – this blog shares our expertise on understanding consumer behaviour. Those who want to understand consumer behaviour are probably interested in marketing. Hi.
Don’t forget that people are also turning to doing things themselves in attempts to save money, as part of a more frugal, thoughtful mindset or because they may have lost some staff members. People are looking to educate themselves so that they can DIY – from doing their own accounts, managing their own websites, training staff or cleaning the office themselves. As a part of this, they research what they need to know to take this new ‘DIY project’ on.
Think of a plumber. A smart plumber may be aware that ranking for search terms around changing taps, unblocking toilets or fixing a dodgy flush is going to be highly competitive and perhaps not worth their time, money or resource as a small business. It’s also an area in which people are inclined to do it themselves to save a few bob when times are tricky. Providing content around ‘how to unblock a toilet’ or ’how to change your bathroom taps’ is valuable to these DIY-ers, and when they decide that they perhaps can’t do it themselves or when a larger problem arises, Mr Plumber with the helpful content will be the first port of call. If people are going to try and do it themselves anyway, they might as well find you along the way.
Takeaway: educate your target markets with valuable, actionable content that qualifies the reader as potentially interested in your products or services. Sharing your expertise with your target market is a real opportunity and the exchange builds a relationship.
Be careful of current trends – yes, really
For years marketers have been told to follow trends: events of interest, national awareness days, responding to other brands or competitors and their advertising, news and current events.
At Patch, we’re always mindful of bandwagon jumping.
There, we said it.
But hear us out: remember those brands who followed the social media trend blaming 5G for the Coronavirus pandemic? We bet they’re feeling a little silly now. Stick to who you are as a business and what you stand for. Get to know why your customers love you and stick to that, because it’s what really matters.
Takeaway: generally speaking, it’s best to avoid gimmicks and stick to what you know and why your customers love you, always go with your core business values when making decisions (unless of course your product is based on a trend in which case make money while you can).
Frugality vs frivolity
There is no room for mistakes right now, for a start. We are not only professionals in business we are also humans – that goes without saying – but whether it’s purchasing something for work or a personal expense, every person has to justify spend now more than ever before.
In both B2B and B2B the result of this is more consideration in purchases: Do I need this? Is it worth it? Can I do it myself or go without?
If your product or service is not an essential item (we can’t all be supermarkets) then it’s vital to create a need. The criteria of ‘need’ is different in crisis and the tougher times that follow, so think carefully about this.
Think about what is driving your target markets right now and how best to reach them with your offering in a way that appeals. Ask any cyber security software company and they will tell you there are lots of people who don’t think they need to spend their money on this, and even less right now whilst being more mindful about expenditure. Why buy something you’ve never had before, right?
The way around this is to create a compelling need for the product, it’s not a frivolous purchase driven by fear or worst-case scenario thinking, it’s a service you can’t live without and are lucky if you have got this far without facing any problems. What happens if there’s an attack on your computer? What are the potential consequences? How much time and money will it cost to repair? Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to buy protection today? A good marketing campaign will achieve more than putting your products in front of prospects, it will make your prospects need them.
Let’s face it, we’ve all seen a lot in the era of Zooming at home. The boss’ husband in his boxer shorts, our colleagues’ children and their tantrums and toilet accidents, somebody’s partner shouting at video games or television programs in the background, and Boris Johnson admitting he’s too fat.
We’re finally treating each other as humans. We’ve all been there, before all this, with an embarrassed woman trying to juggle her child (literally) with her telephone whilst working from home. Now, we hear a noise in the background and it’s normal to us.
This new-found honesty is reflected in the ways in which consumers shop – they expect this honesty from brands, too.
Takeaway: consumers are going to be reacting well to marketing campaigns which play on the humour of honesty and tie in well with your products. Show your customers that you understand them.
If you want to chat about consumer emotions or bounce some ideas around with a marketing team, feel free to get in touch. We’ll put the kettle on.