Just three months ago, our Australian way of life, employment, schooling, socialising, entertainment, and commerce were changed dramatically. As we watched news updates reporting the incredible growth of COVID-19 infections around the world, our governments reacted quickly with strict lockdowns across the nation and in particular for an SME business as well as for online marketing.
Now, as our governments introduce relaxations of social isolation and a gradual phasing of industry and commerce back into full time, we’re counting the costs of an unprecedented economic downturn and massive unemployment as many organisations, facing massive losses in income, have shut down.
As online marketers, we need to adjust to a new normal, or do we?
Not one business sector has escaped unscathed, so what is the new normal now for businesses post-COVID-19?
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 phenomenon has changed peoples’ lives and resulted in a shift in behaviours. But which changes will be permanent, and which will be temporary?
Many social marketers and other behaviourists, like Brian Sher, believe that the recent events will have a profound impact on human behaviour permanently. Others, such as Mark Ritson, believe we will return to our old ways.
So, what does this mean for your SME business and your online marketing efforts?
Online marketing is dominating – so, will your SME business?
There has been a massive transformation in consumer behaviours, particularly in their media habits and not surprisingly, usage of online media. Prior to the lockdown, the vast majority of Australians (over 80%) were already online almost 40 hours a week!
That usage increased significantly over the past few months, with all platforms citing significant increases in usage. Consumers were working, learning, keeping in touch, staying informed, ordering online food delivery services, and being entertained – all at home.
The fact of the matter is that consumers have adapted to a different way of doing things and that involves a much bigger role for online marketing platforms. SME business owners and online marketers need to respond tactically on their websites and social media platforms to ensure they can stay close to their customers regularly.
Ecommerce is booming as the social distancing of the consumer experience is completely removed. But how can you make this work for your business?
The “Single” Click Experience
Make it easy for visitors to engage with you and purchase from you. It needs to be a single click process that makes their experience memorable and one to talk about. Remember, this is about their customer experience, not about making the business processes easy for you.
Review your online presence and make sure that all your content is completely up to date. Add in that food menu you have been thinking about, or the pricing for the fitness packages you have been working on, or that plugin that you have been contemplating. Anything that is going to enhance the user experience is important. Remember, you want to remove as many of the barriers to purchase that you can.
If you haven’t already gone online with an offering, you had better get cracking, as the online world is staying and only going to become more important.
Create Your Future
Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Consider this. With increased vigilance over hygiene and close personal contact, how will your customers respond? Will they still be willing to come into your showroom, shop, or boardroom? Will they still be willing to try on shoes and clothing, grab a coffee, have a facial, or attend that yoga class?
If not, how will you respond?
We need to accept that many consumers behaviours will have changed permanently. As SME business owners, we need to understand consumers’ new value systems, pain points, motivations, and mindsets.
Purchase objections prior to COVID-19 may be different post-COVID-19, so make sure you are sensitive to and understand your clients’ mindset and barriers to purchasing.
Some brands will experience a higher level of Australian Made loyalty, predicted to be true in the travel and tourism sector, and in the medical supply sector. There will most likely be a long-term resurgence of Australian manufacturing, starting with the return of the beloved Polly Waffle.
Is this something that you can capitalise on? And how can you leverage this in your online marketing for SME business?
Let’s take a look at the retail sector. We know that online retail sales have been increasing year on year. We now know that many brands will be reviewing their floor space footprint. Taking into consideration the increased awareness, and in some cases fear of close social contact, how will consumers approach the retail sector?
AI has and is having a huge impact on the way consumers can interact and buy fashion items. There are a number of very sophisticated apps making it easier for consumers to stay at home and make that purchase.
Imagine being able to custom order clothing simply by uploading an image of yourself, with your measurements, clicking through different clothing choices, and seeing instantly how they would look on you. Click to purchase and a few days later, your custom-made outfit is delivered to your door. Sounds attractive right? AI is certainly going to transform the way we shop in the future.
Consider This as New Doors Open
Are there things that you can do to add to your revenue streams – something that keeps within your core offering, but allows you to adapt to the new behaviours of your customers?
Once your business has stabilised, look at how you can adjust your offering to create an opportunity for passive income using an Ecommerce platform. Ask yourself, what else can I offer my customers that will help bring value to them, via a different channel?
We all know about food outlets doing home delivery or selling “groceries”, but how about Ben Goode, the South Australian landscape photographer who has turned his photographs into jigsaw puzzles and is selling them online.
Can your virtual Pilates and yoga classes be repackaged as a combination of face-to-face and virtual offerings post-COVID-19? Or can you re-purpose your commercial floor space in a new trend of Real Estate Flipping? After all, some SME businesses will be reviewing their office footprint in a bid to reduce costs and increase digital efficiencies post-COVID-19.
What can you do right now?
- Look at ways you can bring opportunities into your business, and make sure that you really understand the new mindset of your customer and remap their personas.
- Review the customer journey to reflect the different buying and decision-making patterns and adjust your marketing to suit. This might mean adjusting your brand message to address purchase objections, spending more time building trust, or developing more valuable lead magnet tools.
- Continue to create valuable content that really focuses on the solutions and value you offer and targets the new decision-making triggers of your audience. Online marketing for an SME business needs constant adjustments as consumers’ mindsets evolve.
Just remember there are opportunities out there. As a marketer and content strategist passionate about helping SME businesses, I know that most owners struggle with getting the strategy bit right – even in non-pandemic times.
So, before you even start investing in tactics today, go back and start with the strategy. Don’t spend anything until you get this part right first.
To help you get started, click here to download your 4-week action plan to help you prepare for your new online marketing opportunities.
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