COVID-19 changed our world. And it’s still changing, every day.
But with crisis also comes opportunity. In this case, opportunity to strengthen your business and brand for your employees, customers, and yourself.
To help businesses better identify those opportunities, we gathered some key trends for business owners and marketing managers to keep on their radar as they navigate the challenges of responding to COVID-19.
1. Digital transformation is taking over the workplace.
COVID-19 is shifting the way people do business. Meetings are done on Zoom, and employees are working remotely. Everyone is finding out which meetings could have been done via email and that maybe flying all over the world isn’t absolutely necessary for getting the job done.
What Should You Do?
For many businesses that either already have employees working from home or have some experience with allowing for work flexibility, this isn’t a major shift. Others that have no experience with remote work will need to quickly adapt their processes to fit this brave new world.
- Ensure that your team has the tools it needs to work remotely. This shift requires identifying the right tools and technology to enable your teams to accomplish work tasks, manage projects, conduct meetings, and collaborate when they’re not in the office.
- Prepare for an adjustment period. Given that most successful transitions from co-located to remote work happen over a six-to-twelve-week period, this is a major hurdle for any business that wasn’t already prepared for it.
- Consider working from home to be a long-term strategy. Being ready for remote work will be valuable for your team, even outside of times of crisis—and many are speculating that post-COVID-19, we’re going to see remote work adoption increase as organizations find that they are completely capable of fulfilling their missions while team members work outside of the office.
2. Physical events are going digital.
Trade shows, exhibitions, and networking events are moving online as well, which is a challenge for historically physical events. Suddenly, the venue is now video conferencing software, handshaking is heavily frowned upon, and you may as well leave your business cards at home (because that’s where you’ll be attending the event, anyway).
What Should You Do?
This is a great opportunity for businesses that are experienced with webinars and online events to outmaneuver and outshine competitors.
Businesses that lag behind will want to quickly build expertise. Here’s where we recommend starting:
- Understand your audience. Who is attending and what do they expect to get out of your event?
- Ensure you have a solid platform for your event.
- Think through the format of your event as you take it from a physical space to a digital platform and where you have more options for direct engagement with an audience.
- Design event materials for mobile, as many of your event attendees may be using mobile devices.
- Remember to record live events for on-demand content that can be posted on your YouTube channel, shared on social, or sent as a follow-up to event attendees who may appreciate being able to review some of the content at their own pace later on.
3. Everyone is online right now.
There are currently more people in lockdown at their homes than were alive during World War II, according to Business Insider.
Connected TV, mobile and console games, and streaming platforms are all seeing significant spikes in usage, along with the social media channels that we use to stay in touch. Facebook has reported a 70% increase in video calls from mobile devices. Many people who have never used video calling are now adopting it.
We’re missing out on social interactions, and people want to see each other. The Internet is our social lifeline, source of entertainment, and where many of us stay up to date on the latest news.
What Should You Do?
The customer experience on your online channels has always been important. But arguably, at this very moment, it’s more important than it has ever been.
- Shift operations online, as much as possible. Physical store locations are closed in many states. Call centers are shutting down. And some that aren’t are dealing with rising COVID-19 infections. Right now, the only way that your customers can interact with your business at scale is online.
- Look for opportunities to improve your user experience. Now is a great time to start focusing on the user experience for your digital channels. This will not only benefit you and your customers now but well into the future.
4. Customers are the main focus.
Beyond just focusing on the online experience, it’s also important to focus on instilling confidence right now. Times of crisis shine light on great leadership, and this is your opportunity to be clear, compassionate, and helpful for your customers.
What Should You Do?
- Communicate clearly and consistently. Many industries are being affected by the fallout of COVID-19 and the impacts of a declining global economy. It’s important that your customers understand how you are responding and what to expect from you.
- Be your customers’ source of truth. If you’re a bank, utility provider, or property manager, make it easy for your customers to find information on the resources and programs available to them. If you’re a recruiter, help get accurate information to individuals navigating the unemployment process. There are a lot of assumptions and misinformation floating around. Be a valuable, authoritative resource for your audience.
- Give back to your community. Not every business is in a position to do this, but if you are able to find ways to help your community and your customers, do it. Show your customers that you are a strong partner, there for them through thick and thin. It will go a long way towards building loyalty, and it’s the right thing to do.
5. Brands are looking ahead.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision during a crisis, and we’re all taking this one day at a time. But you can’t forget that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. The brands that are most successfully navigating this crisis are those that are not only thinking about how to best respond in the moment but also how to continue positioning themselves for future success.
Don’t neglect the opportunity that this time gives to prepare for what happens on the other side of this crisis.
What Should You Do?
- Don’t stop planning for the future. While you might be shifting the focus of some marketing efforts, now is a great time to double-down on longer-term strategies, like content marketing, so that you’re well-positioned for success once life begins returning to normal.
- Resist the temptation to suspend your marketing efforts and “wait it out.” That may sound like self-serving advice coming from a marketing agency, but studies going back over a century show that brands that maintain or even increase advertising spend during economic downturns benefit greatly.
We’re all in the middle of a major disruption for every industry, world-wide. With that comes possible opportunities on the other side of this crisis for the brands who navigate it best.
What do all of these trend point to?
Digital transformation is no longer coming. It has suddenly arrived, and we all have no choice but to embrace it. Businesses that have ignored digital channels and neglected their digital marketing efforts are struggling to catch up, while nimbler companies are using the opportunity to get creative, outmaneuver competitors, and get ahead.
There’s a lot of debate about what our world looks like on the other side of COVID-19. Does life go “back to normal” like it never happened, or will our world be changed forever? But one thing is certain: Many more businesses are recognizing the importance of having a strategy for their digital presence—and these forward-thinking businesses are going to continue to thrive in our new world, no matter what it may be.