This article first appeared in Ulster Business – April 2021 edition.
As local businesses begin to recover from the immense personal and professional challenges of the pandemic, many will rightly be considering their strategy for bouncing back and maximising the opportunity of the anticipated surge in consumer spending.
When it comes to thinking about marketing and advertising strategy as the restrictions begin to ease, it’s important that businesses recognise that consumers have also faced a huge amount of change and upheaval. New individual and collective habits have been formed to adjust to the realities of a year in lockdown that need to be understood first if they are to be changed.
This may appear to state the obvious, but good marketing is all about understanding where exactly your customer is in their own lives – what they want from you, what they want to hear from you and how they want to hear it. In this context it’s important not to assume. Going back to the way things were before may be the right way to interact with customers, but it also may not.
The temptation for local businesses, understandably, will be to rush out of the blocks with their marketing to try and capitalise on the inevitable rush, but it’s hugely important to take the time to understand where customers are at, identify whether anything has changed and adapt the strategy accordingly. It’s not just a case of trying to understand where they are now in isolation, but also how they got there and, more importantly, where they might be going.
There is no doubt that a digital transformation, which was already underway, has been significantly accelerated in almost all areas of the economy. However again, it is important not to simply assume people always want more innovation in their consumer experience. In the context of the economic uncertainty we will inevitably face for some time yet, trust is important. A good marketing strategy, therefore, should consider a mix of trusted sources of media, which may be more traditional in nature, as well as responding to new channels and trends.
The temptation will be to rush out of the blocks to try and get ahead, but the smart, sustainable play from an advertising perspective is to act quickly but having invested time and effort in listening in the first instance.