The ‘Next Normal’: How COVID-19 will force marketers to evolve

by | Jun 18, 2020 | Covid-19, Marketing, Public Relations

As the world emerges from COVID-19 and begins reopening, marketers and PR practitioners will see one of the more significant shifts in recent memory. People have lost their jobs, companies have closed their doors and how the world interacts is forever altered.

Simultaneously, the pandemic has changed how brands approach their customers as the world embraces what many are calling a “next normal.” But what comes next? What does this “Next Normal” look like?

Businesses do not like change and ambiguity, but COVID-19 has brought with it nothing but uncertainty. Times like these provide an opportunity for companies—not to solely act as salespeople, but to reflect on their mission.

Evolve the message

Since the rise of digital, marketers have had to evolve. They’ve had to pivot from traditional marketing strategies to incorporate new digital tactics and tools.

Given that the pandemic has been one of the most significant socioeconomic shifts since the great depression, the marketplace could look different for years to come. As part of this, consumers are likely to reassess brand loyalty.

As the Next Normal emerges, companies must continue this pivot to meet their audiences where they are online. To accomplish this, they must continue to invest in SEO initiatives, but they must also put a renewed focus on the content they are creating and promoting.

To maximize efficacy, the content must be relevant and optimized for its target audience. Messages tailored to different audiences, recognizing they are not in the same place—both literally and figuratively—as they were six months or a year ago.

Focus on emotional needs

Marketing is no longer sterile, and it hasn’t been for some time. So, it’s no longer enough to disseminate information and hope people take notice.

Life is busier than ever, and people will gloss over the data they view as uninteresting. People don’t want information like drinking from the proverbial firehose; they want it to be personal.

Organizations must tailor their marketing outreach to focus on customers’ emotional needs, not just the product or service they are selling. It’s more effort, yet making the right connection will lead to a preference among customers.

It seems obvious and straightforward, but too many marketers today still forget this imperative.

Use the latest technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been oft-discussed solutions in recent years, but they are misunderstood in some ways. Marketers should employ these valuable tools as they look to hyper-target customers.

These tools can help organizations deliver tailored content to end-users based on their past behaviors or browsing history. Harnessed properly, these tools can help guide customers toward the desired action in a way that doesn’t seem contrite or forced. Now, as the tone becomes ever more important, using the technology available to help define it is a crucial tool.

Employ live-streaming

Customers want to engage with brands, and even when they are quarantined at home, they want personal interactions and connections. Companies can feed this want by providing experiences to customers via live-streaming events, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Ultimately, the Next Normal is about finding new ways to collaborate virtually and build meaningful relationships. Whether its maintaining relationships with influencers, industry analysts, journalists or a customer not yet known, the successful organizations will be the ones that harness the available tools and use them to cultivate meaningful engagement and drive their businesses forward.

Stop apologizing and get to work

Even before COVID-19, companies were continually evaluating how to better leverage data. The ability to mine customer data has been a game-changer.

The transformations following the pandemic should be viewed in much the same light.

Just as workers have altered how they approach their daily routines, the pandemic could change much about the way marketers and audiences interact.

The first step is for companies to get back to what they do rather than apologizing. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, companies have taken to apologizing, even though there is little relating to the pandemic they can control.

Customers are looking to the future, hoping to step away from the current scenario. Help them.

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Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts serves as CMO of PGi and is responsible for all marketing operations worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market.

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