Many local businesses have changed their hours, or methods, of operation, during the COVID 19 crisis. Photo by Terry Farrell

IT’S YOUR BUSINESS: Ability to adapt will be a key to success during COVID-19 crisis

Joe Smith

Special to The Record

While businesses are either in the process of reopening – or hoping to open up in the not too distant future – the fact remains that the effects of COVID-19 will remain with us for months or even years to come. Some industries have fared well despite the challenges while others, unfortunately, will not see recovery for some time.

What we have seen in the world of marketing is that in these troubled times messaging has shifted dramatically from sales to support, ensuring companies empathize not only with their customers but with the community as a whole.

This kind of communication will continue throughout the coming months so now is the time to ensure your messaging is on point.

The first thing to understand is that consumer behaviour and attitudes will have changed and that the habits they are picking up now will impact how they function when things get back to some semblance of normal.

Most people have been operating from the confines of their home, shopping online, making less frequent trips to the stores, and only buying what they feel is absolutely necessary. We know that many events over the coming months have been cancelled or postponed until next year. Travel and tourism will remain questionable well into the future. Although more areas will open up over the next few months it goes without question that marketers are going to have to do things differently.

The best thing to do right now is to continue showing understanding and empathy for your customers. You need to be able to understand and anticipate how you will be able to fulfil your customers’ needs. The focus should be on helping your customers through these trying times.

Important lessons can be learned from many of the major advertisers that have shifted their messaging to reflect the times. Not often, if ever, do you see or hear about blockbuster sales events. No ‘hurry in now’ or ‘limited time offers.’ It is all about showing concern and staying connected with their customers.

Given the nature of this crisis there is no definitive end to when things will change, so for the next few months – at least – your marketing objectives should be to strengthen your relationship with your customers.

While you may be closed for the time being or operating at a reduced rate it is essential that you make sure your name is still out there. The most important qualities that you can draw on will be your ability to be creative, how agile you are in adapting to the changing marketplace, and being able to go above and beyond to satisfy your customers’ needs.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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