The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown everything off in the field of marketing. The rules that are in place no longer function as they once did.
It’s safe for us to say that the year 2020 was like none other, and 2021 is also proving special and challenging. As marketers look to build brands, next year may be challenging as well. What’s the way that marketing is being reinvented after Covid-19?
The ability to ask and answer these questions is crucial for marketing success throughout the coming months and years. In the past several months, there have been many comparisons. We’ve learned a lot in this one year of massive transformation.
Here are some truths from the past, as well as newer truths that have replaced them.
1. The old saying still goes: Marketing starts by knowing your client. Add in a new reality: Marketing starts with understanding your customer segment.
The Covid-19 pandemic confirmed that marketing must be more customer-specific. It requires a thorough understanding of the reality of the market country by country, state by state, zip code by zip code. For restaurants, banks, or retailers, it could be a matter of tailoring the communications store for each store.
We’ve realized that marketing messages must be personal and relevant, corresponding to the individual’s needs and beliefs. And not the influence of demographics such as gender and age. Making a human, personal connection with any commercial communication requires the definition of consumers as segments.
The EY Future Consumer Index, which has conducted five rounds of research with 14,500 participants across 20 countries since the outbreak of the pandemic, has identified five distinct cohorts of consumers:
- First, affordability (32 percent of customers): Living within their budget and means, not focusing on brand names and more on the functionality of their products.
- The health first (25 25 %): Protecting their health (especially from the pandemic) as well as that of their families, by choosing items they believe to be secure and minimizing the risk in the way they shop.
- Planet First (16 percent): Trying to minimize their impact on the environment, and purchasing brands to reflect their values.
- Social first (15 15 percent): Working together to benefit the community purchasing from companies that they consider to be transparent and honest.
- The first experience (12 percent): Living in the moment and making the most of every moment and often making them more open to new brands, products, and experiences.
Utilizing personas and segmentation of customers can provide more insight into marketing strategies for media and innovative methods. And even better is that these insights are able to provide the complete customer journey.
2. Older truth: You have to compete with your marketing rivals. The new truth is that you compete with the most positive experience your client ever had.
Consumer expectations were already rising prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Gen Z was raised with technology that was seamlessly woven into their daily lives. Direct-to-consumer companies (such as Glossier or Parachute) were already conditioning us to expect a level of hyper-personalization as they were particularly adept with our personal data.
However, when the pandemic struck the technological transformation increased exponentially.
This resulted in rising consumer expectations of what businesses could provide them with. The consumer expects more than a simple digital transaction, say marketing experts. With the advent of companies having their customers’ personal information, they are looking for personalized, anticipatory experiences throughout the customer journey.
Companies should implement three steps to ensure their services meet their customers’ ever-growing expectations:
- Create brand scores as a crucial KPI for all customers in the company, and ideally use real-time analytics instead of an image looking backward from an earlier date.
- Develop the proper information and technology marketing foundation to help support the most critical use cases across your customer’s journey.
- Affiliate goals of both individuals and collectives across the entire customer journey. Any gaps in functional silos such as sales, marketing, or customer service are not visible to the end-user.
3. An old truth that is still true: Your customers want to know you’ve got what they want. The new truth for marketing is that customers are expecting you to provide exactly what they need.
If the bar continues climbing, we should strive toward a new customer experience — from both a B2C as well as a B2B context. Today, consumers expect that any experience they have will be seamless, timely, informative, and asynchronous. That is, they’re focused on receiving what they want whenever they want it. They will not let anything distract them.
Companies need to put marketing data and technology at the center of their business.
This could mean incorporating some level of machine learning or artificial intelligence in the mix. Why is that? Because data allows us to provide more relevant experiences that span one or more that comprise the four Cs:
- Content (that could be delivered via mobile apps or emails);
- Commerce (such as physical retail, e-commerce, or the hybrid experience);
- Community (such as gathering B2B buyers in a virtual trade fair or hosting an online webinar on home repair for consumers) as well as
- Convenience (like giving consumers coupons or other benefits of the loyalty program).
Nowadays, the majority of 4Cs are offered in “one-size-fits-all” strategies. However, consumers demand more personalization. Businesses are required to utilize more data and information to improve their decision-making.
Increase the relevance of your interactions with customers. Build more human connections with their brands.
4. The old adage: Courting customers is similar to dating. The new fact: Customer service is the online world of dating.
For many years, marketing was mostly focused on buying massive coverage or targeted for the highest rates for media and hoping to make money from it. In essence, it was similar to going to every bar or party you could, hoping you’d meet that perfect person. It was a place of serendipity, spontaneity, and, frankly, many meetings with friends.
Start online dating and swiping through apps. Today, finding your ideal person could be less than luck, and more about algorithms and data.
In terms of marketing, we’ve witnessed the shift from branding marketing to expand reach and performance marketing to create leads. The rapid growth of digital channels only amplified the trend. Get ready for this trend to continue and sharpen.