The extent to which it will permanently change our way of life is still in question, however there can be no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has already had a significant impact on how businesses communicate – both internally and externally. The onerous restrictions placed on physical interaction and the realities of a rapidly evolving medical emergency have required us all to reassess our priorities, adjust our message, and determine new ways to connect. As brands navigate their way through and out of this time of crisis and rapidly changing markets, there are a number of important and impactful trends smart marketers should be considering when developing their plans.


EMPATHY FIRST

In times of crisis, no one has time to be sold to. Brands must acknowledge their customer’s anguish and seek helpful solutions to alleviate some of the stress customers are feeling. Some of those solutions may happen to be what your brand provides. Some may be new products and services you would have otherwise considered to be of no value. A little introspection can result in some breakthrough ideas that offer true value, to your customers and your brand.





SOCIAL LISTENING & BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

Now is no time to be flying blind. Understanding what customers are saying, what your competitors are doing, important trends, and external factors affecting the marketplace will never be more valuable. Regular, timely and in-depth business intelligence informs brand decisions for better outcomes and leads to more proactive planning in the face of uncertainty and change.


SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

As consumers flood social media in search of connection and escape, marketers should not only carefully monitor their online reputation, but also leverage their social properties as an important customer service channel. By meeting customers where and how they live, brands become more approachable, relevant and therefore more human.


VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES

Augmented and virtual reality are finally coming of age, with technology driving online experiences that draw customers to online properties and engage them to spend time with a brand. With a little out of-the-box thinking, smart marketers should be looking at ways to integrate these innovations into their digital and online offerings to reinforce brand relevance and value.


M2P (mentor to protégé)

As life online continues to grow, online platforms and communities will make themselves more valuable by offering opportunities to learn and upskill. Offering experts, teachers, mentors and thought leadership is a great way to build added value into your offering, and create stickiness and loyalty with users.


OPEN SOURCE SOLUTIONS

The best organizations are those that collaborate generously with others, even their competitors. This fact shines even brighter in times of adversity when we are all looking for solutions to shared problems. Creating open platforms and loosening traditional restrictions around knowledge sharing and intellectual property benefits us all, but can also open your business to new partnerships, innovations and opportunities. In addition, your brand halo will pay rewards for years to come.


CHATBOTS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial intelligence is coming to all parts of marketing. An early win for AI is software that acts as a virtual “concierge,” communicating with users and assisting them in completing their goals. Over time, systems like these collect more data insights, learning more about the customers, and making it possible to offer continuously-improving service. Many other aspects of the customer journey are ripe for automation and the benefits of AI and businesses who adopt and learn early will no doubt benefit most.


CONTENT IS STILL KING

Quality will always trump quantity. But now, with deeper understanding of target markets and the ability to target audiences more precisely with relevant content, having the capacity to produce quality content in a timely manner is a real advantage. Brands that invest broadly and think beyond singular tactics tend to garner greater traction and engagement.


VIDEO IS A MUST

In a mobile-mad world, people are using smartphones to watch and share videos about everything, learning more about brands, and what they have to offer. For B2B, it’s case stories, testimonials, and thought leadership pieces. Most everything the written word used to do, video can do many times better. Users spend over 80% more time on a website that has video, video generates more shares than both images and text, and 3 out of 4 businesses believe video content has improved their conversion rates. Video should be a go-to tool in every marketer’s toolbox, especially during times when human-to-human interaction is difficult, or impossible.

Adapting to these incredibly challenging times requires a steady hand, creativity and common sense. If you’d like some help sorting through any of these ideas for your brand, we’re here to help.