Even as health authorities warn there’s no predict it with certainty, many say that a second wave of COVID-19 is something people must get ready for now. Some experts say future spikes in cases are inevitable, while others assert people could stave them off by collectively altering their behaviors. Given this grim outlook, what should marketers do to stay as resilient and well-prepared as possible while facing an uncertain future?
They Should Prepare for Businesses to Balk at Yearly Service Plans
Survey data published in July 2020 polled small businesses about their feelings surrounding reopening and their hopes for recoveries. The results showed that 52% of those polled felt very concerned about a second round of the coronavirus.
The study, which asked participants the same questions for 16 weeks and counting to gauge how sentiments changed over time, also registered an increase in the segment of respondents who believed their overall economic recoveries would be 50% or less compared to their pre-pandemic numbers.
What does this mean for marketers? If small businesses feel doubtful about the possibilities of seeing complete economic recoveries at their enterprises, many may cling exceptionally tightly to the financial resources they do have. Marketing professionals that offer subscriptions for their services should consider making it more appealing for people to sign up for plans. They might introduce monthly fees instead of having people pay for a year at once.
They Should Focus on Value-Driven Aspects
Many people are making changes for the long haul as they increasingly view COVID-19 as a persistent threat rather than something that only causes minor disruptions. Global research provided in May 2020 indicated that 72% of consumers felt somewhat or very concerned about a second wave of COVID-19 and more shutdowns.
Another finding from that poll was that the coronavirus caused 76% of households to take financial hits. Moreover, 45% of those asked believed companies should ease their financial burdens by offering them discounts and promotions. You may opt for such an approach, especially to entice new customers to try products and see what makes those items stand out.
When it comes to marketing predictions, 2020 will likely become a year when it’s especially useful to focus on a product’s value. What is it that convinces consumers that parting with their funds to purchase something is a worthwhile decision? Emphasize those things to boost the chances of a person buying something rather than bypassing it.
They Should Double Down on Efforts to Make Consumers Stick Around
Since so many people experienced financial difficulties due to COVID-19, they’re looking for ways to cut costs. Data released in April 2020 found that 21% answered that their circumstances made them more likely to cancel existing subscriptions.
That suggests marketers should think about tweaking the language they use to encourage customers to remain subscribers. Many companies already use phrases like, “We hate to see you go” or “Give us another chance” to urge people to hold off on canceling. Those may still work, but not necessarily.
Since people are more concerned about keeping their expenses manageable, it could work better to say something about how the subscription fee is not as steep as it might seem. For example, marketers could call out that the subscription cost is less than $3.50 per day, or that remaining a subscriber is less expensive than buying a cup of coffee each morning.
They Should Emphasize Customer and Employee Safety
Before the pandemic hit, many marketers probably did not make safety one of their key talking points unless there was a clear and potential danger to customers or workers. The current public health threat and the fact that the second wave of COVID-19 could happen soon mean that marketers must tweak their messaging and show through their actions that safety for everyone is a top-of-mind concern.
A survey of more than 6,000 people found that 58% of respondents agreed that keeping customers safe was the most important action for brands to take. A slightly smaller but still sizeable segment (55%) said the top necessity was maintaining employee safety.
You must figure out a plan for safeguarding your workforce and the people who do business with your company. Then, back up those intentions with actions that people can see and appreciate. You might publish an infographic on social media that breaks down how business operations happen now versus before the pandemic. If your business is a customer-facing one — such as a store — it could help to post employees at the entrance to remind people of the new rules.
They Should Revisit How to Uphold the Management’s Needs
A survey of companies found that less than 5% of respondents had rigorous and disciplined processes for carrying out management’s priorities. If COVID-19 peaks across the country or world again as many expect it will, that issue could cut into a company’s workflow and interfere with productivity. Marketing teams can reduce the effects of that possibility by looking at how they could work more efficiently to meet the management’s goals.
One study asked marketers how they planned to address growing content needs in 2020. Nearly half of the respondents (48.5%) said they intended to use technology to automate administrative tasks. That research was not specific to COVID-19 preparations. It’s easy to see how that answer could tie into organizational differences made necessary by the pandemic, however.
The coronavirus still threatens the world, and no one knows when scientists will find an effective treatment or vaccine. Marketers may discover that they have to focus on types of content they did not use regularly or at all before the pandemic.
For example, with conferences on hold, they may put their efforts into virtual gatherings or interactive remote product demonstrations instead. Marketers must remain flexible and realize this “new normal” may require some organizational changes.
They Should Stay Aware of Regional Fears
As we continue to look at needs and marketing predictions, 2020 may be a year when it’s especially important to stay on top of regional sentiments. When a marketing study examined how people felt about COVID-19 in the United States and the United Kingdom, the results showed some minor variations within decisive trends.
Concerning fears of a second COVID-19, percentages ranged from 74% to 81% of Americans worried about one, depending on where they lived. In the United Kingdom, the range was a bit bigger, with 73% to 86% feeling concerned about the virus peaking again. The findings also indicated that most people in both the United Kingdom and the United States felt anxious about the eased restrictions happening in their areas.
Marketers must realize that some people may not feel ready to return to their favorite activities and businesses, even if those places open. They should explore what they could do to make current and potential customers more at ease, whether that means introducing new procedures or offering services that allow people to stay at home or limit face-to-face contact.
They Should Realize People Made Widespread — Possibly Long-Term — Changes Quickly
Many people are capable of and willing to make drastic changes quickly if doing so could save their lives or keep loved ones safe. Even if people in the target audience embrace changes to exist safely in a COVID-19 world, they could adjust again if a second wave of the coronavirus seems imminent. Marketers have an ongoing responsibility to show the audience that they can safely enjoy a company’s offerings and that those products are still relevant.
Some marketing firms conducted several phases of COVID-19 research to see how consumers’ feelings shifted. One organization’s poll in March 2020 showed that nearly 90% of Generation Z changed their daily routines because of the coronavirus. The amount was 75% among baby boomers.
When the same company polled people in July 2020, many people viewed the pandemic as a long-term threat. The breakdown indicated that 21% of all respondents see it persisting for at least a year in their countries. Then, 23% expect it to last up to 12 months. Only 6% of those polled had no concerns about a second wave of COVID-19.
They Should Pay Attention to Social Media Chatter
Discussions about the coronavirus coming back in full force do not only occur within news reports and talk shows. People frequently weigh in about that possibility on social media, too. One company tracked the keyword phrase “second wave” on Twitter from February 1 to June 3. It registered more than two million tweets during that span.
A closer look at some of the tweets revealed that some people thought COVID-19 had already reentered a more severe phase after easing off. Others believed an increase in danger was just around the corner. Marketers can become part of this social media trend in responsible ways by highlighting how their products or services could help people cope with a resurgence of the coronavirus.
For example, one tweet might say, “Concerned about COVID-19 coming back more aggressively than ever in your town? Use our grocery delivery service to get the goods you need while staying safe.” A company that sells software to help people collaborate could tweet, “Don’t let the coronavirus crush your creativity. Our cloud-based tool lets you work together with colleagues while keeping a safe distance.”
Not a Short-Term Issue, But a Conquerable Challenge
The trends brought up here help illustrate why marketers should not perceive the coronavirus as a threat that will pass soon. Many consumers expect the infection rate to peak again, and they’ve changed their lifestyles and purchases to accommodate that outcome.
Even when rising cases do not preoccupy people’s minds, many bring up how COVID-19 affected them severely, hurting their finances and putting their jobs at risk. That means more people act exceptionally carefully when deciding what to buy and why.
Marketers must adapt to remain successful. They have to move forward with the understanding that the coronavirus could restrict consumer spending for months or years. The goal now is to show customers that the products they offer are more necessary and desirable than ever during this new normal. They also must take care to stay tuned in to people’s fears and not exacerbate them. The road ahead will not be easy, but having a flexible, responsive mindset will help.