Read other posts in the Marketing during the Coronavirus series:
If I think about what’s important right now, it’s our family/friends, protecting the NHS and stopping the spread of the Coronavirus. That’s predominantly our prime focus and of course not going insane from cabin fever during the lockdown.
No one knows how long this is going to last, China took over two months to begin to lift their lockdown restrictions – whose to say it won’t last just as long here? We also don’t know if a surge of infections will rise up as we lift the lockdown.
Sadly, a by-product of all of this is uncertainty around employment. “Will I have a job at the end of this” is probably a question that we have all asked ourselves over the past week to 10 days.
When you consider the stimulus and financial packages that The Chancellor has rolled out, he is giving UK businesses the confidence that everything will be alright once we’re out the other side. This can be seen as an opportunity, a moment to reflect, adapt and move with speed.
We shouldn’t be afraid of what’s to come but rather from a business point of view, look at how we can be innovative and valuable to our consumers. We’ve been presented with an unexpected chance to lay the foundations for stronger, better and kinder businesses. Data is king and investing in the right data, understanding our website analytics and investing in our companies technological capability now – is something that will benefit us greatly in the future.
This too shall pass. We may not believe it, but it will.
I saw something amazing come out of GiftsOnline4U.com today. Something that made me feel really proud of the fact that I work with them. They are an online retailer and thankfully due to a mixed portfolio of online platforms have been able to remain buoyant since this pandemic hit us. They’ve consolidated their focus and looked at what matters to people right now and adapted their activities accordingly. Of course, they are still running their day to day activity but they’ve started to innovate by thinking about their consumers wants and needs right now.
Firstly, consider the audience. How are they going to be feeling right now and how are they going to behave in the future. Personally, they are likely to be scared, nervous about spending money but also looking for things to pass the time right now.
Isolation is a tough gig, especially when your kids are at home as nursery and schools are closed. With older children, the home schooling means you have to be teacher but with younger children – they can just run riot. GiftsOnline4U has thought about this and thought about how to make the lives of their consumers easier – firstly, they produced a tool to open doors to help stop the spread of the virus. While it’s a little gimmicky, it’s also apt. People are scared to touch surfaces or open doors and just by creating something that helps them to get past that, it helps to put them at ease.
Today, they launched a FREE personalised ebook to help explain the Coronavirus to children. It’s a simple thing. It’s a way to help parents and it’s a way to get children to interact with what is happening in the world right now. They are planning on launching a series of these books over the course of the pandemic to help parents to entertain their children and educate them at the same time.
In terms of the future – it’s an interesting one. People are currently adapting to learning to live with less and also that ‘get it now’ lifestyle that we have all got so used to is out of the window. There’s a fear around spending money too. However, when this does end, a lot of the money that the government is supporting us with and unspent wages will have built up over time and people will be looking to enjoy themselves again.
GiftsOnline4U are investing in their infrastructure, continuing to load value added gifts to their website and look at products that are relevant to the upcoming seasonal requirements – including Father’s Day and weddings. They are optimising their site and creating and sharing amazing content.
Strategically, I think businesses need to think about the situation that we are in now and they need to think about how they can help. Being a business that cares, a business that adds value not only shows consumers that you are ready to step up to the plate now but you’re going to be there for them in the future too.
Budgets are small right now – marketing budgets are even smaller. We are all cutting back. So thinking cleverly about how you spend your marketing budget is key. We’ve been told to isolate at home – a lot more people are using social media, watching YouTube and binge watching shows on platforms like Sky. On the 18th March, The Guardian reported that Vodaphone had report a 30% surge in Internet usage – with the lockdown now in place, it has probably increased substantially I’m sure. Should you be looking at investing in media channels that align with self-isolation? Indoor platforms like Sky Adsmart, YouTube ads, paid search and social advertising.
It’s important to remember that not all your consumers are indoors – key workers are outdoors. Is it worth talking to them too and if so how? Clap for our Carers is a great example of community – how are you showing the key worker community that you are there for them? This was a digital campaign that became viral but look at their creative – it’s simple and easy to relate to yet shares a clear message of solidarity.
Don’t continue haemorrhaging money into media channels that are going to lose you money. There’s going to be a lot of inventory available at discounted rates so go for what will work and what is cost effective.
It’s also important to think about the plan for when we bounce back. Boris Johnson keeps saying we’re going to come out of this stronger. So how are you going to do just that? Think about how you’re going to welcome the world back to normality and where you are going to do it too.
Getting your creative ‘right’ at the moment is important. Your messaging has to be focused around the needs of your consumer – they need to know you are there for them, they need to know that you are there to help them. But you also have to make sure that your communication and messaging are appropriate to the situation that we find ourself in.
Tesco for example has removed multi-buy promotions and Chris Hemsworth is offering a six-week free trial on his Centr fitness app. All in the name of helping people – mutli-buy promotions don’t serve the governments message of buying only what you need and charging people when they are trying to conserve cash – it’s just doesn’t seem right.
Then you’ve got brands like McDonald’s getting it completely wrong.
I mentioned earlier about consumers changing the way that they are having to live. I do believe that is going to change the way that they buy and live in the future in a profound way. We will go back to normality but there will be subtle changes that you need to understand and take into account. Data and mapping trends comes into play here. Do you research and keep abreast of what is happening with you consumers in terms of their habits.
You need to plan for the future now. Think about what is going on and be there for your community but remember; we are going to come out the other side and you need to be stronger for it.