In my 25 years of business, I have encountered many ups and downs but nothing quite like the Covid-19 experience. We have to think on our feet though, and that's why we've prepared for three phases of marketing during the health crisis.
Milestone Marketing Solutions shares our sympathies with any who have been affected or know someone affected by the virus, and we hope for a speedy recovery to all struggling. There will be a process over the course of the year to get the economy and daily life back to the norm. Ahead, we've made some projections on the customer buying attitudes in the months to come.
The Quarantine Phase
The first phase began in different parts of the country throughout March and will continue through the lift of the quarantines. There have been different degrees of uncertainty and panic. This has created three marketing hurdles that the majority of businesses – especially those that offer non-essential products and services – must address in their current advertising:
“Right now, I only need the essentials (food, water and shelter), so tell me why I should buy your product now?”
“How can I get your product or service without exposing myself to the Virus? Tell me how you’re going to make my interaction with you safe, and how you’re going to take every precaution.”
“Money is tight right now, and I'm concerned about long term income security. Tell me how you’re going to address that by offering me deep discounts, value, free delivery, deferred payments, no interest, etc.”
It’s important to note, if you do persuade consumers to make a purchase during this period, adding a relevant, humanitarian layer to your communication and offer can strengthen your brand and build post COVID-19 loyalty. Communicate often and in the right places by offering relevant and truthful content to establish yourself as a compassionate and helpful brand.
In many households, spending has decreased and many have received their stimulus check. There is buying happening in some spaces, and If you're in one of those industries, be smart and thoughtful. It's different than tax return season (even though it's that time too), so maintain a sympathetic tone while hoping to win some business.
The Recovery Phase
This next phase will begin once the quarantines start to lift and people can gradually return to normal life. This phase could continue for a few months as fear gradually diminishes each day. Some people will be in financial recovery and budgeting, others will be excited to return to spending, and some will continue the caution from the quarantine phase.
Most people will continue being fearful and anxious to some degree, causing them to be reluctant to fully participate in the economy. Businesses will need to continue to use the same messaging strategies as the first phase with slight modifications based on the business levels they are experiencing during this period – especially when it comes to giving consumers the greatest value with any payment deferments for large ticket items.
The marketers that build relationships and trust during this period will be the winners when normalcy returns. Use this period to build your brand and demonstrate to your customers that you care will be essential. Until we're clearly in the third phase, this is a time to show an altruistic brand message and sincerely make the case that you care about your customers and their families more than the bottom line. This positive empathy will pay dividends down the road.
The Return to Normal Phase
Now we put everything behind us! It will be a relief to many and some consumers will carry the effects for longer, but once the market has returned to normal we should keep messaging positive. This will be a historical virus event and economic event, and now that it's over let's get back to letting people know how your product or service can improve their lives.
Having a robust campaign ready once the 'all clear' signal comes through will be important. Some of the regular parts of life were gone for long periods of time, so now the consumer will be more than happy to see a regular old TV ad, or receive a vibrant piece of mail with a great offer. It's time to live life like we used to– and that includes absorbing some strong advertising!
Good luck and stay safe.