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How to Increase Sales in the Age of Covid-19

General

In Part One of our series How Your Marketing Needs to Adjust to the New Normal, we touched on the importance mitigating customer atrophy and employing customer retention marketing tactics. In Part Two, we will look at acquiring new customers and it’s a strategy that can be summed up in one word: convenience.

COVID-19 has made life anything but convenient. The economy suffered a once-in-a-generation economic collapse for the second time in a little over a decade.  But there is a precedent for this that we can learn from. In 2009, Harvard Business Review came out with a great article about marketing during an economic downturn. At that time, the US was dealing with the economic catastrophe of the 2008 economic collapse. In the article, they argued that in the wake of the economic collapse there were now 4 new types of consumers:  Slam-on-the-Brakes (stop most spending), Pained-but-Patient (stop spending in some areas and this was the largest group), Comfortably Well-off (spending at pre-downturn levels but just more selectively and conspicuously), and finally Live-for-Today (there is no change in spending behavior). All of them prioritized items the same way: essentials, treats, postponables, and expendables. Products and brands that were viewed as postponable or expendable face the greatest risk during a downturn.

Today’s consumer (both B2C and B2B) can be categorized in exactly the same fashion. With economic downturn and uncertainty everyone (B2C and B2B) is prioritizing how they will spend their available dollars. This is where you need to adjust your thinking, keeping in mind that COVID has also sparked a significant cultural shift. The rules for social interaction and business are being created in real-time. The physical has been replaced by the virtual. Life is harder than it was. Consumers in all markets are looking for the path of least resistance. In other words, convenience.

Convenience Is King

The more convenient you can make the purchase of your product or service, the better positioned you will be to weather this economic storm. This is not a radical new idea. McDonald’s early success was based on the convenience of grabbing a meal on the go. Amazon has made buying online as easy as just speaking. More recently, convenience brands like DoorDash and GrubHub have taken off as consumers look for a more convenient way to get take out.

Steven Hyken has been touting the concept of convenience as a marketing differentiator for years, using the term “convenience revolution” to describe this strategy. According the Step, those companies that simply make it easier and more pleasurable to do business with will not only do better, but will also end up with the most loyal customers.

Look to your customers, or even ask them, how you can make their purchasing process more convenient. Are there certain aspects to their purchasing process that could make doing business with you better, more fun, more convenient? For example, if you’re a bakery, can you make it so I can order online and just pick up or use a delivery service like GrubHub. If the new business environment is causing wait times at your business, can you use scheduling software or SMS notifications to smooth the process for the consumer? Does your business require consumers to fill out forms? Can they fill them out online instead?

All of these questions are to illustrate the point that you can be creative in your convenience. Just look toward how the customer is experiencing your brand and try to identify areas where you can improve.

How Your Brand Is Perceived

The other factor we need to take into account, is how your brand (i.e., product or service) is viewed by the consumer within the framework of the HBR article. If your brand is viewed as either postponeable or expendable, we need to adjust their perception or you will never make the sale, regardless of how convenient you’ve made the brand or experience. And again, we need to look at this from the consumer POV, so think about creating an argument that will directly benefit the target. Give them the reason(s) to justify using your product or service. And once they do try and become a customer, revert to an aggressive customer retention program so you keep them happy and loyal.

Change Is Neither Good or Bad, It Just Is

The bottom line is that the economy has changed in ways we cannot control. Your only option is to adapt. And that where TRUE Marketing can help. We can develop strategies and tactics to help your business and brand thrive in today’s marketplace. So feel free to drop us a line, if we can be of service.

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