How your Marketing can Stand Out and Survive during COVID19

We are all in a pandemic, and it blows. People are dying, the economy is volatile, people are worried about getting corona virus resulting in medical debt—or worse—making their preexisting health conditions worse. While it is difficult to address and discuss, it is important to acknowledge as business owners and marketers how we approach marketing during COVID19. We have to understand where humanity is and where their priorities are at this time.

How are you standing out—appropriately—during Covid-19?

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Be Price Aware, but not Damaging

Based on the daily news, we are seeing record levels of unemployment. While that is a critical metric of consumer confidence, we also have to take into consideration how even those with money or jobs, while still financially secure, are looking at their funds and being more cautious with their money.

Discounts and special terms are in place for higher priced items like cars, but we aren’t seeing the traction. Usually luxury goods are a good indicator of how serious things are, and even luxury goods are seeing a drastic reduction in conversions.

I have seen many businesses focus heavily on the sale/discount message. It has been a tried and true message—especially in ecommerce—but will is last? For some ecommerce and businesses, it will continue to serve them well, mostly if that has been their go-to strategy and the discounts are already built into their P/L.

However, when you start to discount consistently and heavily over and over again and your business isn’t used to such drastic measures, it is incredibly difficult to get back to the real value of your product in the long-term.

So where does that leave you and your pricing model with discounts?

  • Do
    • Look at value of product selling, what cost of goods and competitive set look like? Yes, run a P/L. Basic task that must be done.
    • Review how long you can keep inventory. Can you sell some of this year’s new release while also keeping some inventory for next year? Some larger businesses may not have the space. Smaller businesses might be able to run a ‘limited edition’ or special promotion, and keep some inventory for a later season when paychecks rebound.
  • Don’t
    • Undercut your prices because of a competitor. While marketers are often active in the ‘price’ part of the 5 Marketing Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People), remember bringing in a new customer solely based on a lower price point doesn’t mean you have a new brand loyalist. They might even become frustrated when you try to rebound your prices.
    • Reduce your product’s quality. Sure, you might not be able to serve your weekly wine tasting at your bottle shop due to social distancing and other regulations. However, you can think about how you can empower your customers to stay connected with you be giving them a quality experience in other ways. Now more than ever, people want that comfort of normalcy, even if it’s in a not-so-normal way like a box they can order with information on how to have their own wine tasting, or a 1:1 zoom call with you to walk through the wines for 15 minutes. Everyone stays safe, and you continue your connection with your customers.

Pivot to needs of market

While consumer goods are still in demand, the demand for the type of products has shifted. We are seeing more consumables like wine/beer/alcohol, toilet paper are seeing incredible surges in sales, while higher end products like purses, and clothing are seeing a drastic drop resulting in a market shift.

We are seeing consumers flock to “staples”—paper products and food—and “affordable luxuries”—wine, coffee, in-home entertainment from on-demand shows to puzzles. These two main areas give consumers a sense of control as well as the opportunity to give themselves permission to enjoy their money and life in smaller, perceived micro doses of spending.

What does this mean for you? You have to pivot your products and services based on the consumer market.

Action to take: Identify your key audiences and what products they would identify as ‘staples’ and what would be their ‘affordable luxuries’.

From there, pivot your product offerings positioning to these two areas. This gives consumers permission to purchase.

Example: Say you manufacture luxury soap and shampoo products in small batches. The price might be higher than a $1 store bar of dial. So you position your soap as not only a necessity, but also an ‘affordable luxury’. Your customers still need soap products (especially during a pandemic) but why don’t they enjoy the lavender scent that will also help relax during this stressful time?

3. It’s not all about brand right now, it’s about service, availability

While people are loyal to certain brands, I don’t know many people that wouldn’t grab the available brand of toilet paper if that what was available in the store. This also goes for many consumable goods like soap, wine, coffee ok, I draw the line here, and even clothes (my child as grown through two different sizes in two months. You bet he is wearing whatever we can find at the store or online).

People will be venturing to the stores for their regular products—or staples— but with so many people still adhering to a version of a stay home order, they will also be looking for ways to stay home and still enjoy live—which goes back to affordable luxuries.

If you are able to offer a service that makes your product even more available than before, maybe through delivery or online ordering in areas or ways you haven’t before, than you should see people taking advantage of that.

Example: You could offer kids shoes, and instead of in-store shopping where trying on shoes is part of the shopping process, maybe you mail two sizes with a deposit from the customer instead. Then you pick up the shoes that don’t fit and charge the customer for what works. Now, you can sanitize the shoe that you bring back, and you sold a pair to a parent that desperately needs shoes and was having to let their child wear their parent’s old shoes with tape … seriously, where can I get this service?

With that, you have offered a service while increasing the availability of goods that are needed at this time.

What are you seeing in the marketplace that has transitioned marketing overnight because of COVID19?

How to Guide Your Marketing Team to Adopt Machine Learning Mindset

For marketers, it’s difficult to sell the concept of on boarding machine learning within your own team. You can feel the excitement for machine learning in the boardroom. The growth potential, the savings from staff time, the enhanced guest experience, just to name a few.
But what about the teams on the marketing and sales front line? The workers who implement customer journeys, map the stages, develop tactics, and are responsible for results. To them, it can feel intimidating.

There is fear and confusion about what machine learning does, how it works, and how jobs will change because of machine learning.

How to guide your team

You are a marketing leader, how do you capture the potential of and grow the excitement of machine learning within a team that knows the ins and outs of your industry? They’ve hit goals time and time again while you pushed them harder and harder and they came out the other side victorious. Why are you suddenly shifting their workflows, decision pyramids, and challenging the very systems you pushed them to put in place?

Their thoughts and feelings are valid, new systems and programs are risky, but you can turn that around.

Turn machine learning skeptics into champions 

  1. Empowerment: Give your team permission and space to think about the next phase of the business by asking them questions. 
  • What would they do if they didn’t need to pull data manually and mine data from several systems for answers?
  • What areas of growth do they see in the company’s future? 
  • What would need to be true to be able to get to that next phase in the business?
  • How do they envision the future of the decision making within the organization?
  • What would they need to stop doing in order to focus on improving a customer’s experience?

Questions and seeking to understand helps you—as a leader—gather information about how machine learning can get you to the next phase in your business on a strategic as well as tactical level and provide context to your staff on how implementing a machine learning tool can impact them on a daily basis.

2. Understanding opportunity: With these questions answered and the conversation with your team started, you can begin to capture how a machine learning tool can assist with forecasting opportunity.

  • Forecasting:With the daily changes in the world that impact your business (climate change impacting distribution for example) machine learning can adapt with the help of your human teams. By inserting weather events into revenue forecasting machine learning systems for example, the system can learn when weather events can directly impact the potential for disruption to the revenue stream, giving your teams the ability to forecast and respond in real time to customers
  • Proactive v. reactive: Teams are asked daily to react to changes in business needs. With machine learning, you can see where the challenges and opportunities are for the business through predictive analytics. This gives the team permission to be proactive in the areas that need attention. Which can lessen stress and give them permission to be more strategic versus reactive.

3. Allows to be nimble:Machine learning systems gives teams the opportunity to test new theories and respond in real-time.

  • Testing: Creative teams are always wanting to try new theories and push into new pastures. Machine learning tools allow the team to try new initiatives, test their theories, and best practices in an industry while measuring in real time. Something working? Extend the test! A tried and true tactic no longer moving the needle? You can shift the focus quickly. This saves in the long run and helps foster employee engagement.

Giving your team space to ask questions, apply a machine learning mindset, and empowering them to think deeper gives them the buy-in on how machine learning can positively engage them in their work and the customer experience, resulting in fostering a team of machine learning champions!

It’s not a matter of if you adopt machine learning with your team, it’s a matter of when. It’s always better to take a team with you and engage them early resulting in empowered and engaged employees.