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What we've learned from COVID-19 so far

When the bush fires hit Australia early in 2020, there was (and still are) so many businesses reeling from the effects on their businesses. Just when we thought it couldn't be any worse, little did we know what was about to come.


In some ways, from a marketing perspective, the bush fires did us a little favour as they prepared us for the need to quickly adapt and respond to customer needs, perception and feelings.


Prior to 2020 hitting us like a freight train, there were many small businesses doing extremely well, particularly in some niches. Whilst the high street continued to be gloom and doom, the shop small and local movement was gathering some amazing momentum.


Supporting small businesses embodies everything that being Australian is all about; mateship and community. I really do love the fact that in times of need, Australians will rally together without hesitation.


When COVID-19 first hit, I really felt like there was a period of denial. To coin a phrase 'she'll be right' was how a lot of businesses were feeling. It'll pass. No big deal.


But it quickly became evident that COVID-19 wasn't going to disappear anytime soon and that we are all in it for the long haul.


Since marketing isn't all about advertising and sales, businesses both big and small have all had to very quickly adapt to how they reach, communicate and build trust with their customers.


At the time of writing this post we're around 12 weeks in and already we've learned so much. We also know that the way we do business has changed forever.


Communication


Communication has been key throughout this pandemic so far. Letting customers know about how restrictions have changed the way a business can operate, changes to stock availability and reassuring customers has been an important of business continuation.


Some businesses have done it well with just enough empathy and grace. Some have not leaving customers feeling under valued and frustrated. Many have used the pandemic as an excuse for their lack lustre approach, tone and timing when it comes to communication. These businesses will see their customers look elsewhere from now on.


For some industries, particularly in hospitality and events, it's been extremely tough as their doors had to shut pretty much over night. It's hard to keep the flame going when there's not much you can say other than 'see you soon'. It's still important for these businesses to keep showing up on social media so that when the time to reopen comes, they're still in the front of their target market.


Pivot


For some businesses it's been an opportunity to completely pivot their business. A great example of this is B2B businesses changing their customer base and moving to general consumers. Those who had previously distributed goods to the hospitality industry were taking up the slack and demand at the supermarkets who had such a sudden peak in demand.


Fashion retailers were also scrambling to expand their leisurewear to benefit from the demand of so many people working from home who no longer had the need to dress for the office.


From this we can learn to have a plan b in mind and be able to quickly implement it when the going gets as tough as it currently is.


Jacking


There's been a lot of price jacking happening and whilst this meets the given theory of supply and demand, during a time when the whole world has been turned upside down, jacking just feels wrong. Short term gains won't win long term is my strong and humble opinion. And how quickly the tables turn - the shops are now over run with hand sanitiser and the price has come right down.



Online business is booming


Online shopping and virtual services are in exceptional demand at the moment and that trend looks set to stay.


Now more than ever, people are spending more and more time working from home, playing at home and staying safe at home.


TikTok boom and bust


With TikTok now being seen as a security threat, it looks like it may become banned in many countries across the world. Just as it was becoming THE social media platform of the century, luring in millions of users, it may all be crashing down very quickly.



As I type this in July 2020, things may change as quickly as life as we know it changed. I'm intrigued to see what the next 6 months look like for us all.


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