What hasn’t changed over the last two months? We have been hearing this question a lot lately. Doesn’t it just feel as if everything has changed? Although COVID-19 has accelerated business adaptation at lightning speed, some basic communication principles will endure the proverbial ‘test of time’.
Back to basics
Consumers are going back to basics. There are delivery companies who are once again delivering milk or boxes of fresh vegetables straight from farms to consumers’ front doors. Consumers up until the eighties were used to this personalised way of receiving products.
Spending becomes an f-word
Across the world, consumer spending has been affected in a really bad way. Consumers are sharply reigning in spending and their meagre disposable income, if at all, is limited to the bare necessities. Sales and discount spotting have become a pastime.
Unlike most countries in the world, South African consumers were denied participating in ecommerce. And unfortunately, any assumption that spending will return to pre-pandemic levels as restrictions become more and more relaxed, is simply unrealistic. FNB forecasts that during 2020 real household sector disposable income is expected to contract by 7% in 2020. This will cause a simultaneous decline in real household consumption expenditure of around 7%.
Ecommerce provides a lifeline
In countries where ecommerce was allowed, the use of online shopping meant goods could be delivered safely. Ecommerce may now become a permanent channel for consumers to get their shopping done safely, especially in South Africa, as the threat of COVID-19 infection is still very real.
All in all, the digital space has won in so many ways.
Forbes says that while the pace of digitalisation has been significant over the last few years, its acceleration was certainly a direct result of the pandemic. It is unavoidable in 2020 for companies to NOT get online now to sell products and services from this day forward. Companies will have to go digital simply because they have no other choice.
There were a few surprising ways in which industries have started to use technology during complete lockdown (and continuing). Take the way in which the fitness industry adapted their offering and kept fans loyal, and met their need to stay active, while normal in-person classes were not possible. Instructors got innovative and we have seen online offerings exploding. We predict this is only one area where a supplementary digital offering will quite possibly continue to shadow normal in-person services.
Top 10 content marketing tips to reach customers
We’ve looked at a few ways in which content marketing have had to adapt due to changing consumer behaviour, and to reach them even more directly than ever before:
- Clients or customers are your best ad campaign – Focus on excelling in client/customer service and have your customers do the talking on your behalf. By word of mouth is everything!
- Align with your purpose – Now is not the time to separate your products and services from your purpose. Figure out your brand purpose once and for all. Once you know this insight your content marketing will forever be different.
- Keep it simple, Simon – Try to steer away from too many complicated or potentially disjointed messaging. One simple and consistent message gets the attention of consumers.
- Shift to digital investment – Invest the time to learn and get comfortable in using new technologies, such as digital marketing, and how it can help you accomplish your goals. It’s amazing how effective something as simple as Facebook advertising can be for small businesses.
- Decipher what your goal is – For instance, if pushing sales is your goal, adding Facebook Store or Shoppable Instagram posts can be fantastic channels for small businesses whose goal it is to reach the right audience to sell its products.
- Hard selling is hardly effective – Focus on content. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask them what they need, then fulfill that role. Content should help customers be a better version of themselves or release their potential.
- Reach inward, to your existing database – There is a wealth of opportunity among your existing loyal fans. Keep them happy and coming back for more.
- Build relationships – Keep them once you have them, by reaching out to them with relevant content through newsletters, or through personal contact.
- Be with your audience – Now is not the time to be silent. The actions you can take when showing empathy vs sympathy is divided by a fine line, which is called ‘tonality’. Reach out with empathetic messaging in an authentic tone to let your customers know you understand where they are at, and that you care about them. That you are WITH them!
- Invest in your online community – Now more than ever brands need to listen to their audience to pick up on changed nuances and needs.
One thing that will never change is that communication is a two-way street. Transparency and authenticity are the vehicles that will keep on bringing consumers back for more.
In marketing, the things people are motivated by or would want to associate themselves with, the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs haven’t changed. Rather the way in which we are executing and the channels we are using to meet these needs have. Let’s continue to balance human emotions and needs with finding the specific value that a brand can bring.
By Sunet Schoonees, Account Director at Hatch Communication