Experience is everything, and as marketers, we want to create memorable experiences for our clients and their customers across all touch points. So, when life shifted overnight to an unrecognizable state due to the pandemic, we also had to make the shift — as consumers and as business professionals. Although these changes were unexpected and, yes, overwhelming in the moment, I take comfort in the fact that I can now clearly see how we have become more agile, prepared, personalized and innovative as a result.
- Quicker Pivots
The business of marketing has always been fluid, continuously adapting to the changing times, new technologies and ever-evolving consumer preferences. When faced with a pandemic crisis, the agility we already held as marketers was propelled into a new definition of what it truly means to be quick on the draw. From completely upending a current business model to rolling out new products and services, certain strategies planned for the next few years were, out of necessity, executed within the span of only a few weeks or months.Covid-19 has shown us just how quickly we can transform the way we work, as well as how critical marketing is as the connection between today’s fast-changing landscape and a brand, its channel partners and customers. Overcoming the first few pivots ultimately served as conditioning for building up stamina to prepare for the many curveballs ahead.
- Digital Preparedness
The migration to digital has been on the agenda long before Covid-19 became a household name. Although preexisting, this digital urge rapidly graduated for many into means for survival once the pandemic hit. Within a matter of weeks to months, brands without online ordering were standing up new e-commerce platforms, and those already using digital infrastructures were bracing their server capacities for the impact of increased online traffic. But the focus is not just on digitizing.Brands should be reimagining the entire customer journey in these new boundaries — from awareness to transaction to retention — and how to continue making customer interactions more seamless. The competitive advantage lies in how you offer the same accessibility as others and then improve the customer experience in every touch point.If a restaurant simply offers online ordering and pickup, how can you make that experience as frictionless as possible, and where can you add value? And just when you think you have found the next solution, go back and rework it again and again. There will always be a “next best thing” to strive toward, and if your brand is not the one offering it, someone else will.
Consumers have had a front-row seat to witness how brands have quickly made strides to prioritize their customers by fine-tuning product offerings in an authentic and personalized way. In this environment, brands that can further personalize their approach to where and how they engage customers will be more successful in the rebound.Tracking and maintaining the customer data that enables your personalized communications is a good CRM strategy. With a data-centric, holistic view of each customer, their interaction history and preferences, brands can target customers according to where they are — online, mobile app, social media, email — and their interests to provide a hyper-personalized, convenient experience for them.There is a clear expectation from consumers that companies should do their part to help them in their daily lives and keep them informed. Brands today must be able to meet consumers where they are and offer personalized services for their specific needs.
- Rethink Service Design
The regulations and limitations that have been placed during Covid-19 have unknowingly allowed for brands across verticals to think bigger. We’ve not only swiftly adopted new processes and technologies to supplement the gap in consumer accessibility, but we have been able to take a step back and look at service design in its entirety.The pandemic has prompted marketers to rewrite their traditional playbooks, thinking about what products and services they currently offer, how they currently interact with customers to market them, and opportunities to turn this current service structure into a new experience for both brand and customers.The dynamics of consumer expectations continue to evolve at a rapid pace. To keep up, brands must internalize what makes them unique and how they can expand on their advantages. Where can you amplify your product differentiation, inclusive of how you attract, interact and transact with customers across all digital touch points?Let’s say a retailer’s competitive advantage before Covid-19 was having a brick-and-mortar footprint on every corner. What opportunities can they seek to “Amazon” their business to continue serving customers daily but in a contactless way? Consumers no longer look at a brand as either a product or a service — this line has blurred, and consumers now have a holistic view of the brand as one. Two key questions we continue to encourage our clients to ask themselves are: “How can I make my marketing work harder?” and “What do we see working for other verticals or competitors that we haven’t yet implemented ourselves?”
The pandemic has pushed us, as marketers, to move faster and innovate. It has also given us the opportunity to really lean in for our clients and become stronger partners than before to not only get through this time together but also shape the days ahead. While it’s still too soon to see light at the end of the tunnel, this affords us more time to grow our marketing toolbox and continue to learn of what we’re truly capable of.