These 3 rules can help marketing managers and companies ride the tide of uncertainty
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact on the global landscape. Every aspect of our lives – from the way we live and work to how we communicate – has been radically altered.
Consumer shopping has shifted online, purchasing patterns have prioritised necessary expenditures over discretionary buying, and the fundamental relationships that previously underpinned the public connection with businesses have changed. As a result, the best-laid marketing plans are no longer viable in the current scenario.
Such drastic changes have proved to be challenging for companies and their marketing departments. But while the world has undoubtedly become a more unpredictable place, certain things have stayed the same. These are the practices that have seen brands through unimaginable challenges in the past, and which remain just as relevant today.
Here are the three commandments that marketers can swear by even in the most uncertain of times:
Reward positive behaviour
Since its inception, social media has rapidly positioned itself as an indispensable aspect of the marketing landscape. The outbreak of the coronavirus has only strengthened its hand, but with much of the world confined to their homes for the greater part of the year, social media played a pivotal role in keeping people engaged and entertained, with the usage rates of various platforms such as Facebook and Instagram witnessing a sharp spike.
However, the many benefits of social media shouldn’t blind us to its faults. Key among these is the outsized influence a negative comment or review can have on a brand’s fortunes. To avoid the escalation of such issues, many brands have taken to compensating the authors of these negative reviews – essentially buying their silence. But instead of resolving the situation, this approach only serves to embolden individuals looking for a quick payday, and has led to the creation of an entire ecosystem of ‘discount hunters’.
Rather than perpetuating a toxic system of negativity on social media while remaining constantly on the defensive, brands should seek to reward consumers who actively contribute towards a positive and productive ecosystem.
Building a community to speak on your behalf is the strongest defence against the attacks of trolls. Reward loyal fans for their appreciation and love, and transform them from passive observers into active and vocal brand advocates.
A business that doesn’t acknowledge the world around it is one that is doomed to fail. Never has this advice been more relevant than during this pandemic. 2020 is a year in which people across the world have faced job losses, enforced confinement in their homes, and dealt with the loss of their loved ones.
In the face of these circumstances, a brand must be mindful of its tone and the content it produces, and tailor them to the situation. After all, no one’s in the mood to be bombarded with pictures of flashy lifestyles and exotic destinations.
It’s often said that people can forget the words you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. At its very essence, marketing is a people business. And being compassionate and empathetic towards people is a marketing (and life) strategy that never goes wrong.
This approach is especially relevant given the state of the world. That’s just as true of brands as it is of people. When interacting with your customers, remember that you’re all in the same boat. Handle them with compassion and care, treat their concerns as you would your own, and go the extra mile whenever possible. They’ll remember your efforts and thank you for it. All of these steps help a brand maintain its relationship with the public and are a step along the path to building a customer base whose loyalty is enduring, unshakeable, and well-earned.
Embrace word-of-mouth marketing
COVID-19 has heralded a turning point in the use of social media. Over the next five years, these platforms are anticipated to grow at an exponential rate as new users log in for the first time and existing users increase the time they allocate to surfing online. This means that brands and their marketing strategies will have to evolve too.
In this scenario, word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is set to emerge as an integral part of the new age marketer’s arsenal. Otherwise known as crowd marketing, WOM marketing describes the actions taken by a business that drive their real customers to organically promote their products, services, or brand.
Not professional influencers, not paid ambassadors, but real customers – the kind of people whose opinions haven’t been bought and paid for. Stemming from the pre-existing fan bases of brands across social media platforms, these actions serve as unpaid promotional activity on behalf of a company.
This user-generated content and unprompted customer advocacy is marketing’s holy grail, and brands should do everything within their power to maintain and encourage an active and thriving online community.
Aside from amplifying a brand’s own marketing efforts at no extra cost, WOM marketing has also proven itself to be the most effective testimonial a brand could hope for, with more than 92 percent of consumers stating they believe suggestions from friends and family over advertising.
Although these steps provide a roadmap for navigating the era of post-COVID-19, brands often find it hard to implement these tactics. In these instances, their best bet is to turn to a select set of social media tools that have the knowledge, experience, and backing to leverage the aforementioned points. The end result is well worth the effort.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)