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Jessica Quiroga - 03.20.2020

How Brands Can Navigate Business During a Pandemic

The growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 is causing major disruption for businesses and marketers worldwide. As consumer shopping behaviors, along with new business models and a revised competitive landscape, these factors create both threats and opportunities. Brands are being forced to change their strategies to keep business running as smoothly as possible, considering the current circumstances.


As we all operate in this new norm see our recommendations and guidance on how B2C businesses can pivot their digital marketing plans and efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Navigating the B2C space

Consumers are continuing to turn to digital channels for online purchasing and entertainment. B2C businesses will need to shift their focus and place a heavy emphasis on direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategies and technological advancements. As isolated consumers' growing dependence on e-commerce rises, it is naturally forcing a fundamental step-change in the way B2C businesses will need to operate, and ultimately move forward to adapt.


Audit your paid media plans.

Auditing your paid media and social efforts is a must. After that, active monitoring as the situation is every-changing will be critical. Be sensitive to the ads you plan or are planning to launch over the next few months and ensure your ads don’t go against WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations. Stay nimble and be prepared to adjust your paid media strategy and budget where needed.


Provide proactive lines of communication.

Provide options for customers to easily communicate with your business on their preferred channels - chat, text, phone or email, etc. Utilize text message opt-ins to communicate up-to-date changes to related to order and shipping details, venues and policies, and other relevant information. Update FAQ and support landing pages on your website to provide easy access to relevant and up-to-date information to avoid flooding the phone lines of your customer support team.


Give yourself a digital facelift

With a surge in online shopping, your online presence is more critical than ever. Here are a few ways to provide a better digital experience for your customers:


  • Use this time to refresh your website to ensure your information is up-to-date and make sure your site is mobile-optimized - providing customers with a seamless and integrated shopping experience.

  • Revamp your app and look for ways on how it can better replace in-store traffic needs.

  • Refresh your eCommerce sites/marketplaces by updating A+ content, product detail photos/videos, and make sure you have product inventory available to meet demand.


Get creative with how and when you interact with customers. 

Many businesses are considering a to-go only model or are adjusting business hours to limit large crowds and to promote social distancing. Others are starting to offer additional items beyond their typical products. For example, one Atlanta-based restauranteur gets creative with carry-out and launches an online general store. Direct mail is another unique option that still offers a personal, in-person touch. Remember to remain agile and take advantage of new platforms and new product positioning where necessary.


Create and update content.

Use this potential “downtime” to create new content (blogs, PR and marketing materials) to have in your inventory and update existing content ensuring you are optimizing for SEO


Promote online buying capabilities.

Don’t be afraid to you tout your online buying capabilities to provide customers with an easy way to continue to do business with you. This can include ordering online through your website or mobile app but make sure your customers are well informed of their purchasing options. Before promoting your capabilities, verify you can show accurate stock levels and can handle demand in your fulfillment center.


Support customers where you can.

We are all in this together and it’s important to continue to maintain customer support even during difficult times. Consider offering free shipping, installation, and returns so that customers can still shop, even if just online. Another helpful way to support your customers is to extend return policies (e.g. now offer 180 days for returns) or offer free pickup of returns as many won’t be able to leave their homes to return products within the return policy timeframe.


Team up with other businesses.

Join forces and come together with other similar merchants to bundle and save on shipping and delivery costs. Team up with delivery partners to offer home delivery without impacting the environment. Support local, even if you are a large franchise you can team up with local businesses’ that fit your brand to show support. Push users to purchase online from a local retailer rather than your eCommerce website.


Where to go from here

Rather than feeling paralyzed by a lack of clarity around how to respond or how long this will last, look at it as an opportunity to think about your business differently. During this time of uncertainty, the brands that can pivot quickly, think differently and show compassion will be the ones that come out stronger than ever.


So where to start...

  • Leverage key insights and analytics to help pivot your marketing strategy and make educated decisions supported by data.

  • Consider setting up a daily cross-functional recurring standup to check in with sales and marketing to monitor and measure your efforts during this time.

  • Shake things up. Business is not as usual, so your strategy shouldn’t be either. How can you achieve your goals in a completely digital way? Stay nimble and flexible.

 

Have 5 minutes? Check out our e-book, "Navigating Business NOT As Usual" that highlights how B2B & B2C organizations can be nimble in times of uncertainty.