Marketing in a Covid-19 setting

December 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has become one of the greatest ever challenges to businesses around the globe. To navigate a way through this crisis, businesses need to be bold and show creativity. Adversity presents opportunity, so in this article I will set out some ideas on how to steer your business through this crisis and come out the other side in even better shape than before.

Be customer-centric

I have always believed that the customer sits at the heart of everything. So, during a crisis, the first thing you must do is take care of your customers – think about their needs and do everything you can to meet them. Be aware that their needs during the crisis may be different to before, so be prepared to adapt your offer. Even if your business isn’t operating as it was before the crisis, now is the time to strengthen your ties with your customers by developing a relationship that goes beyond the merely financial. A broader supportive relationship will last longer than the crisis.

To help establish what business-to-business customers value, business consultants Bain & Company identified forty value elements across five categories that make up its B2B Elements of Value pyramid. The pyramid shows that six of the forty elements focus on creating value for customers during a crisis. A crisis creates moments of truth in a business-to-business relationship. Support your customers with values that feature towards the top of the pyramid and you will exit the crisis in a better position than when you started. Now is your opportunity to focus on being a partner and providing stability; put your offer out there, do the right thing, and help your customers when they need you. It’s time to focus on these six Elements of Value:

• Be socially responsible by doing the right thing and not taking advantage of the current situation
Reduce customer anxiety with regular and transparent communication
Be available for your customers whenever they need you by offering help, products, and solutions
• Provide stability for your customers
• Support your customers by being flexible
• Do all this and help your customers to manage and reduce risk.

Speed is important; crisis management requires firm, determined, and agile decision making, even in the absence of all the information you might need or prefer. When your customers are in the middle of a crisis, you do not have the time to ponder over decisions.

Understand changing consumer behaviour

Those of your customers operating in the business-to-consumer market may be concerned about consumer behaviour in a post-Covid world. Global lockdowns have fed more home-based consumption trends as consumers switched their spending to more home entertainment and online purchases. Will consumer behaviour return to pre-Covid norms once lockdowns are further relaxed? It is difficult to know until this happens. A study by Deloitte suggests a more gradual return to normal buying patterns as some will be more reluctant than others to resume their freedom of movement until confidence returns.

Reports by the Nielsen consultancy and the Spanish consultancy Garrigos + Llopis point to the following critical factors that will influence consumer behaviour in the months and years ahead.

• Quality and efficacy – consumers will demand greater assurances about the safety of the products they buy, so manufacturers will need to communicate widely about the reliability of their products and supply chains.
• Traceability – consumers will be far more interested in where their purchases originate, how they are manufactured, and their supply chains; preferences for local produce may grow and transparent communication will be vital.
• Digitization – with more purchases happening at home, and perceived barriers to online shopping all but disappearing, now is the time to embrace and accelerate development into online retailing, digital marketing, and customer relationship management.

Build the brand you want to be

Finally, there is evidence that the way a business behaves during a crisis will be remembered and have an impact on its future brand and reputation. A business that leads and inspires will thrive while one that behaves cynically and seeks to profiteer from the crisis will suffer. The way a business treats its employees during the crisis will also reflect on its reputation; just as employees can be great advocates for a business, they can also be its greatest detractors.

About the author

Maria Gurrea Galve
Zaragoza, Spain

Maria is deputy director at legal services firm Navarro Llima Abogados, a member of Russell Bedford International. She is a law graduate and MBA and specialises in business strategy, marketing and sales. She is currently a marketing and sales consultant/advisor at her own firm, senior associate consultant at the Spanish marketing consultancy Garrigos + Llopis and teaches marketing at several business schools. Maria was previously marketing director at Adidas HQ, responsible for key accounts, and a former global strategy director for Adidas Originals.

Author: Maria Gurrea Galve - Navarro Llima Abogados, Zaragoza, Spain

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