It may not seem like it right now, but a post-coronavirus world is an inevitable reality. The world isn’t going back to normal next month in May, the American economy cannot be turned back on like a light switch. And the wound to the American psyche, the uneasiness and demonstrated cold ruthlessness of COVID-19, will take time to heal.
And it will heal, but it will be slow, likely aking two years to return to the normalcy we all miss and remember. We are in the middle of the crisis, and normalcy is 18-24 months away. The interim period, the slow recovery, is the period when the rules will be different. We call this the corona gap.
To ensure your brand thrives during the corona gap it is crucial for digital marketing leaders to take specific steps now. Here are our seven must-dos for digital marketers:
#1: Conduct touchability analysis and take action
People are going to be reluctant to touch things during the corona gap. No matter how digital (or not) your brand is, digital marketing leaders must map out their customer journey and take note of all literal touchpoints. For each, you will need to identify ways to remove or digitize them.
Take an example of a museum client of ours: This museum has copies of laminated cards in each room of the museum experience so visitors can learn more about the art in that particular room. When the museum reopens those laminated cards will need to go. In their stead will be a sign pointing to some kind of website experience.
The point is you likely have literal touchpoints. Identify them and eliminate them.
#2: Get an eCommerce strategy in place
Physical shopping is going to return, but the best outcome is a return to pre-coronavirus levels. Growth is unlikely. But especially during the corona gap brands that offer frictionless eCommerce will capture more market equity, offering more opportunity for growth when normalcy returns.
Review your lines of business, whether B2B or B2C or B2B2C, and try to identify any opportunities for digital commerce. Challenge assumptions that may have led your brand to determine that your customers wouldn’t interact with you in a digital commerce environment. Dust off existing plans for launching new lines of digital business. Consider prioritizing those projects and focusing hard on quick to market MVP approaches to launch as quickly as possible. Cut scope until you can launch in a few weeks, not a few months.
#3: Reallocate all field marketing spend for the next 18 months
Microsoft has allegedly canceled all in-person events through July 2021. This is not a small company making a decision on a whim. This is one of the largest businesses on the planet with a massive business and consumer markets that put-on hundreds of events each year. That they are taking this step should be illustrative to us all about the shift away from field marketing during the corona gap.
Reallocate 90% of your field marketing budget for all events over thirty people to other marketing uses. Look for more, smaller intimate field marketing events like dinners, and shift the remaining spend to other digital efforts.
Massive webinars where people on a stage talk to people sitting in their chairs watching on their work computers are not going to replace your annual conference. Find creative ways to re-engage with your customers or lean on our team at Third and Grove to help to ideate.
#4: Start thinking local
Travel is going to be hard during the corona gap. Not in the traditional sense of flight availability. (While one of the major airlines may go bankrupt, most will continue on.) Travel will be more difficult because fair numbers of your colleagues may not be comfortable traveling as their risk of infection may be heightened. Employees that are high risk, or live with someone high risk, will be the most reluctant.
So what are digital marketing leaders to do? Now that many companies have learned their teams can work remotely source local talent in your major geographic areas of focus to help execute your sales, marketing, and customer engagement goals.
#5: Lean on the streets
America has been a winning bet for 250 years; a global pandemic is not going to change that. However, the United States economy cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. It’s going to take time for the economy to recover, and the unfortunate consequence is that many people will be looking for work.
Lean on the streets for local contract talent to help execute your strategies. There will be many folks eager.
#6: Optimize your development velocity now
Probably the most common challenge we hear in talking with our prospects (who are marketing leaders) is that their development velocity is slow. Effective digital marketing requires a continual stream of experiments and enhancements to support the ongoing objectives of the brand. The source of slow development velocity is either, or some combination of, engineering talent, the website tools and platforms being used, or website tools built not following best practices.
The specific solution to slow development velocity will vary based on the problem, but common fixes include finding a new agency partner, migrating to a new website platform, or rearchitecting what you have. Whatever the cause, identify it, identify a solution, and execute.
For your brand to thrive during the corona gap, and especially as normalcy returns in 18 to 24 months, you must have high developer velocity.
#7: Look at TikTok
While life will mostly return to normal, eventually, major events, like a once-in-a-century pandemic, do create certain fundamental shifts in consumer behavior. Use of TikTok, the wildly popular social platform for teenagers, has exploded in older demographics as families with teenagers and college-aged kids’ home from school live together, on lockdown.
And TikTok, like all great social media, offers a continuous stream of dopamine hits that are delightful to us monkeys in shoes, regardless of our age.
If you advertise on Instagram or Facebook today, then start planning right now for an advertising strategy and opportunities on TikTok. Your colleges may chuckle today, but in a few months, it will be clear to them you were skating to where the puck was going to be all along.
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