The COVID pandemic has proved an extremely testing and difficult time for most businesses due to the immense amount of change it brought. Whether you’ve flourished or struggled with the changes, it’s no surprise that there are more changes expected on the other side.
With lockdown now over, this may have you thinking, what are the marketing trends and opportunities post-COVID, and what do I need to do moving into 2022?
BUSINESSES ARE PUTTING MORE DOLLARS INTO DIGITAL STRATEGIES, AND KEEPING THEM THERE.
During 2020 and 2021, we saw online promotion and advertising boom. When many states were in lockdown, the only way to reach customers, or for customers to reach businesses, was online. The lockdown saw traditional media methods unable to reach customers as they did before, and the advertising dollars were moved to reach eyes on screens.
- With less people out and about to see outdoor media, billboards and posters, there was a boom in digital location-based ads reaching customers during their Google Search.
- People couldn’t enter shopping centres or stores to see promotional signage so it was important to target these promotional messages on banner ads across websites and marketing emails.
- With a large number of consumers working from home, less radios were playing in people’s cars on the way to work. To reach these customers in their new work environment at home, more ad spend was invested in streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
- Retail stores, centres, business hubs, factories and offices were locked shut so websites were scrambled together to ensure a business could maintain some kind of visibility. Those without e-commerce websites quickly changed to offer selling online to keep some revenue coming in.
- Office phones were diverted (some to pre-occupied home-schooling parents), others were left unanswered, or calls sent to message banks so online chat became the most convenient and direct way for customers to reach and communicate with businesses.
While vaccination rates are increasing and people’s lives are slowly returning to normal, we believe that the convenience, reach, opportunity of online advertising and pandemic-proof digital mediums offer will keep people spending the bulk of their advertising dollars in digital spaces moving forward. While the space may feel like it’s becoming crowded, we believe there is certainly room for all businesses to be successful advertising online.
RELIANCE ON REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS
During the pandemic, less people were heading into shops to physically touch and feel products, and were less frequently in social situations to ask their peers for advice and recommendations. As a result, they had to turn online to find this information and help them make purchase decisions. People are now, more than ever, familiar with finding advice and recommendations online and are more comfortable with following feedback from trusted review sites and reputable organisations like Facebook and Google.
Within your own business, it’s now especially important that you ensure you have a review and testimonials strategy in place to help drive your own reviews to these spaces. Reach out to long-term customers or clients and ask that they help you out, provide numerous reminders to prompt reviews and links to your referral pages for them to ensure it’s as easy as possible to leave a review where you want it.
Sadly, many businesses haven’t made it out the other side of COVID-19. It may certainly be worth doing a competitor analysis to see who your competitors are in the post-pandemic era. Are old competitors still operating or have new ones entered your market? Have their services changed at all? Are there new services you should be offering to remain competitive? You may find new gaps in the market which you can capitalise on. Analyse your existing marketing strategy and make any amendments to make sure you have a clear direction for 2022 and know how you will tackle any changes.
SUPPORTING THE PEOPLE, NOT THE BUSINESS.
During the pandemic, many trending hashtags really took off including:
#smallbusiness #inthistogether #supportsmallbusiness #shoplocal #shopsmall #supportlocal
Humans are compassionate creatures; we like to care for and be kind to others – it makes us feel good! People were saddened by small businesses suffering during the pandemic and rallied behind local and family run businesses that relied on day-to-day customers to earn a living. There was a movement towards supporting these types of businesses over larger chain stores or brands as people wanted to feel they were helping someone else during these challenging times. Behind-the-scenes social media posts, Instagram stories featuring staff and owners, and storytelling about how businesses were born and the mantra behind them were received extremely well. In a world of doom-and-gloom, helping someone else by purchasing from them or supporting their small business was one way to feel good again.
We believe that people have embraced supporting smaller, local businesses and that this trend will not disappear any time soon. To capitalise on this shift, be sure to focus on the people within your business and be real. Who are you, why should people support you and how did your business come to be? Participate in online groups as yourself – the owner or employee – and be the name behind a brand or business.
FOCUSING ON RELATIONSHIP BUILDING IS IMPORTANT
Moving on from supporting the people in a business, one way to grow this connection with your customers is to really focus on building meaningful relationships. From moving into a digital world and many of us being isolated from human contact for so long – people are eager to re-establish and build new relationships again. This may still look online for many businesses – but taking the time to be a real person and provide great service will separate you from others. Genuinely care about and show compassion, excitement, and value for your customers. “Hey Sally, thanks so much for your purchase! Really appreciate you supporting us.”
People will come back to buy from you or re-book your services if they feel they have a connection or relationship with you and the brand. The pandemic has allowed people to re-evaluate and reassess their current relationships with brands and businesses and we believe there is now more opportunity to capture new customers and put more of a focus on this.
To help build relationships, reply to comments and messages on social media, follow up client emails or questions in a friendly and helpful manner, and show an interest in your client/customer. Take the time to add that extra line to an email, personally reply to reviews, spend a couple of minutes speaking at the counter or ask about their weekend on a call.
Many of these trends aren’t new, relationships and reviews have been growing in importance regardless of Coronavirus, but are now more important than ever. To summarise our marketing trends and opportunities post-COVID – in a post-pandemic world we believe that businesses will now be focusing a bigger portion of their advertising spend in digital spaces. With this shift, business will need to focus on their reviews and testimonials more than ever before and re-evaluate their competitive marketplace to find new opportunities. Above all, it is crucial to really spend the time to let their customers into the the business and build genuine relationships with them. With this focus on their online strategy, businesses will be able to grow and flourish through any challenges that may arise in future.