Where Are We Now?
We are now over a month into government implemented social distancing and self-quarantine protocols urging people to stay inside and take a number of other precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses have severely reduced their hours and for some, have closed up shop entirely. As we saw the closing and reduced hours of businesses, we also saw the spike in establishments implementing direct-to-consumer tactics: eCommerce platforms, curbside pickup, and delivery services allowing establishments to continue serving their customers the safest and smartest ways possible. Even essential services are offering contactless services to accommodate those who are sensitive to leaving their homes and exposing themselves to the outside environment.
Consumers and humans alike are taking to social media and various other online platforms as a means to stay connected in such uncertain times. With a significantly increased amount of time spent at home and on mobile devices, desktops, and tablets, the market for being online right now is huge. Companies are transitioning their marketing spends to promote online initiatives and access the breadth of consumers. These are certainly unprecedented times and as we navigate through them, it’s important that we acknowledge the magnitude of COVID-19 and strive to mitigate the after-effects that it will have on small businesses, communities, and our society at large.
A New Normal
So what does a new normal post-COVID-19 look like? If we take a look at what’s happening in other parts of the world, Wuhan, China, for example, we know that the first case was reported in late December. Since then we have seen their number peak and now plateau, with a new normal setting in around mid-March (BBC). Many retailers there have reopened including Apple, luxury goods retailer Hermès, and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the world’s largest jeweler (Fortune). We are seemingly two months behind this large epicentre, however, due to the fact that Canada has implemented many impactful precautionary measures, each province within Canada will see varying recovery times.
Again, looking at the timeline we can begin to understand what it means from a business and retailer perspective in Western Canada. It’s no surprise that these are not normal times, however, it is not out of the question for retailers to begin planning ahead for a state of restored normalcy and envisioning what their business model will look like in 45, 60, or 90 days. Included in this new normalcy is the comfort amongst consumers with making online purchases. Indicating that their online purchasing habits will continue as we see stores opening up again. According to HubSpot customers have initiated more interactions with businesses today than they were at this time last year. Included in this, we see a growth in consumers conducting research online as well as average monthly website traffic increasing by 13% in March, compared to February 2020 (HubSpot). Forbes predicts that a new normal for supply chains “will combine two concepts: “design everywhere, produce everywhere” with “deliver personalized products fast, in a sustainable and affordable way for the mass market”. Thus, indicating that local production and a minimization of our carbon footprints will enable fast delivery of personalized products (Forbes).
It’s inevitable that as time progresses and we see our society and economy begin to resemble it’s former, consumers will be looking to businesses to collect information on how they are resuming their operations. You may find that consumer habits adopted during this time (ie: online grocery & retail shopping) will be sustained if those means of conducting business prove to be more efficient alternatives. Moving forward it is paramount that you are able to effectively and concisely communicate your messaging to consumers and a new campaign is the best way to deliver that message. In order to ensure that you’re ready, the planning begins now.
1) Start to Plan Now
Starting to plan now allows you to be proactive in the delivery of your campaign. Assessing your customer’s purchasing habits enables you to evaluate new business opportunities that may have arisen as a result of recent events. Aligning your vision and goals for the campaign will help to reinforce your overall messaging. Timing is important, but so is having impactful and engaging content that will help you stand out from the clutter of competitors trying to quickly promote themselves in the aftermath of COVID-19.
2) Identify the Key Messages
Identify the key messages that need to be delivered to your existing customer base. This includes “now open” messaging with days/times, online orders, pickups, and delivery information, as well as operational changes such as occupancy. The key messages can be created during the time of slow down to deliver the message in a timely manner. As time progresses and we see the restrictions removed by the government, there will be a rush and sense of urgency to communicate business operation messaging and advertising. Therefore, having your message in place is pivotal as timing is key.
3) Identify the Digital Medium
Identify the digital medium that needs to be used to deliver your message. Messaging can be delivered through a number of mediums including google search, display, paid social, video, website update, and new landing pages. By examining where the majority of your online engagement has come from during the past few months, you can get an idea as to where you should be doubling down on your paid ads. Through the combination of one or a number of these mediums with your message, you are on your way to creating an impactful marketing campaign.
4) Identify the Timing
Identify the timing to deliver the message. This is a key variable that will be difficult to predict due to federal and provincial government authorities. As an agency, we will be conducting our due diligence as it pertains to keeping on top of news and provincial regulations. Again, planning ahead will be vital in providing a precise strategy to be developed now so that it is ready to be pushed live as soon as government regulations give us the go-ahead.
5) Identify the Budget
Identify the budget to plan the campaign accordingly. We understand that marketing budgets have been reduced over the last few months in response to the pandemic, however, moving forward this notion is misguided as an increased budget may be necessary to effectively promote your business post-COVID-19. With consumers eager to spend and engage in “revenge buying”, if you have the means to stand out, it will prove to be very worthwhile for your business. If you already have something in mind, connect with our agency to identify the cost of delivering your messages using the right look, message, medium, and reach.
Why This Matters
Harvard Media wants to be the agency that you work with as we navigate these times together.
- Many businesses in Canada that hadn’t evolved before COVID-19 now understand the importance of digital and must upgrade their business plans accordingly. We have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to perform the necessary upgrades that will ensure your business does not get left behind.
- The way people live their lives will change significantly and so will consumers’ purchasing habits. We are getting ahead of this curve by staying vigilant and being prepared to act accordingly.
- The speed of getting your products and information into the hands of your customers will be vital in the post-COVID-19 economy and this will be our focus for your business as a client (World Economic Forum). We’ll deliver products and information the way we know best, through digital marketing via online media platforms.
- Over 40% of retailers expect product delays and inventory shortages from their businesses. We will provide digital solutions, which will be a key factor in success.
- Preparing a campaign ahead of your competition will allow you to be first to market establishing a presence in the new economy post-COVID-19 (WordStream). Harvard Media isn’t slowing down production, rather, we are just getting started. We have all hands on deck ready and are to tackle any project that comes our way.
We understand how tough it is to navigate the digital marketing landscape in such uncertain times. Our team of strategists and creatives are ready to help you see sustained success as we get through this. For more information on how we can create something impactful together, drop us an email at email@example.com.
We continue to gratefully and wholeheartedly thank the essential service workers that are out on the front lines as every day passes and look forward to a time where we see restoration in local businesses, communities, and our society at large.