We certainly seem to be living through a period of turbulence. The pandemic tends to grab the spotlight, but numerous instances of political instability preceded it. The US-China trade war and Brexit are two such high-profile events with significant and unpredictable economic repercussions.
It’s amid this climate that businesses must seek to stabilize and find new strategies for the future. Consumers around the world are likely to have far more pressing concerns on their minds than the latest marketing campaign of their favorite brands.
Already, companies have shifted in response. They have extended their resources to aid healthcare workers, provide essential supplies, and demonstrate increased sensitivity and empathy for our shared plight. But the future might hold even more unexpected developments. How can your business make the right adjustments moving forward?
The ever-changing game
The field of marketing is arguably at least as old as the Industrial Revolution. Modern entrepreneurs know by heart that connecting to your target audience will drive business success. But the frontiers have changed at a blistering pace in recent years.
Today, successful businesses use search engine optimization to show up among the top results for a relevant keyword query. It’s almost an art form, but one that wouldn’t exist without the enabling technology. The advent of the Internet and widespread use of different devices has shifted the bulk of our consumer data online.
In the information age, businesses follow the data. Thus, we compete for presence not on a single device or platform, but across all the devices and email or social media accounts a consumer might have. Even so, these efforts might no longer be enough.
Technology itself also influences consumer behaviors. Most people rarely go anywhere without having their mobile phones within arm’s reach. They can research products anytime. They can post to social media and receive instant gratification.
Savvy marketers keep up with these underlying trends. They recognize the value of transparency and rapid response over social media. Using these principles to guide communications, you can translate consumer interactions into effective engagement and opportunities to foster loyalty.
Challenges new and unseen
The disruption posed by a significant event such as the pandemic harms many people. It has changed millions of lives in the USA alone. Concern over public health and safety is an immediate and undeniable challenge, prompting many businesses to respond appropriately.
Yet there are also underlying currents to be aware of in a crisis such as this. Research conducted in the wake of the 2008 recession showed that consumers could undergo drastic behavior shifts in relation to the reduction in their disposable income.
Some people will put strict limits on their spending, either out of necessity or concern for their long-term provisioning. Others simply carry on as before, with little to no change in their spending habits. Many will fall somewhere in between. In general, everyone becomes more discerning about products and services. They seek greater clarity on what constitutes essential versus indulgent spending.
Approaching audiences with intent
In terms of logistics, time, and effort, how much do you invest in marketing in a downturn? On the one hand, people expect you to be sensitive to the general distress. On the other, you simply can’t afford to lose that connection with your consumers.
Every leader needs to relearn that today, any sort of business move can end up in the spotlight. After all, we’re still in the middle of the information age. And with more time spent at home and on their devices, people can scrutinize every move. This can be intimidating, but it’s also an opportunity for you to send a message without needlessly pushing your content in their faces.
People might find that the ‘big picture’ issues, such as the pandemic, are most relevant to them. But they need information regarding such matters to come from experts and leaders in the respective fields. Instead of attempting to stay connected by posting content about these topics, figure out how you can create content aligned both with your brand and their emerging interests.
For instance, the challenge of being productive or feeling socially engaged while working from home is a common area of interest. And it might be one faced by many of your employees. You can make it personal, authentic, and relevant by sharing their stories. How did they rise to these challenges? What did your company do to help them navigate those difficulties?
With this sort of intentional approach, you can make every move count. You won’t have to raise the volume or flood people with unwanted communications. Create value and spread positivity, and you’ll be showing people that you are sharing these trying times with them. This sort of connection can outlast these uncertain times.