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Pivoting Marketing Campaigns During COVID-19: Thoughts From the Experts


With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for companies to maintain their digital presence consistently and think long-term. It doesn’t matter what size of business or locality, everyone should be making strategic adjustments to their marketing efforts so that they can stay connected with their customers.

Our team wanted to share some insights with those of you looking for a little clarity on pivoting your marketing strategy during a crisis because it is crucial for your business to stay competitive and relevant.

Speaking of relevance…

Staying Relevant When Consumer Behavior Changes

Your business should always strive to stay relevant but COVID-19 has shown us how important that really is.

Managing Partner, Bruce Rowley often preaches the importance of staying relevant in marketing, but these circumstances are extremely unique.

One of the things that comes up, and we have been talking about this for a long time, is the power of relevance. The more I’ve had a chance to sit back and see what we are doing on a day-to-day basis, one overwhelming fact has hit me. That is: When was the last time that everyone in the country was doing the same thing?

Client Service Director, Amber Dunn, has been on the front lines helping to shift and adjust marketing campaigns for RSM’s clients. She and her team have been working very closely (not in person #stayhome) with clients to quickly adjust their campaigns and messaging. She shares some insight into what is predicted for the near future.

We are seeing several…SEVERAL consumers changing their behavior. Yes, they may be sitting on Netflix and watching Hulu more, but that time will shift and things will change. They are going to start looking for ways to improve their house, ways to learn more about their car, the functionality of their Bluetooth radio, or picking up new hobbies. There is so much content that’s being absorbed and so many people that are learning new things and spending time reading blogs in ways that they have never done before. We’re thinking about ways to pivot and engage from those standpoints.

So, there is a lot to consider when thinking about how to maintain relevance during the pandemic. Plumbing companies, for example, may not have been interested in writing a blog on how to fix a leaking faucet because that is a service they provide. However, with more and more people limiting contact and interaction with others, trying to save money, etc. this would be a good piece of content to provide to consumers. That video or blog could solve their current problem. Then, when something big happens and they need plumbing services, they know who they will turn to.

Navigating Target Audience Changes and Behavior Changes

A lot of companies are seeing their target audience shift. The demographic they have been creating campaigns around for years through content has changed extremely quickly.

Amber Dunn is back again to discuss these audience shifts.

In this strange period that we are all facing, we’ve seen some of our clients whose target audience has..not gone away completely but has gone away for a little while. Teachers for example; they aren’t going back to school this semester. So, there have been quite a few instances where we have been able to completely shift and pivot who we’re talking to and the messages that we are displaying for our clients so that they can still identify opportunities to grow and shift within their industries.

RSM Marketing’s Executive Producer, Peter Espinosa, gave some insight into how companies are slightly pivoting their messaging and offers to meet new needs and stay relevant with a thought-provoking example.

An example that I really love about one of our current clients is that they are already very community-focused by spotlighting the community, spotlighting things to do, and for people to get out their house and attend events which is obviously not an option now. What they’ve done is pivot to virtual tours of landmarks that you can see on the website to still get that community feel and community relation from the comfort of your own home. They have also shifted their messaging slightly, still heavily community focused; [i.e.] here are the options if you need a school lunch for your child, if you need financial assistance, here is where we would start.

Their messaging in a lot of cases doesn’t have to shift drastically to still be relevant and palatable to the customer who is seeing thousands of messages a day. That’s a great example of a mild shift to create this great message for people to continue to relate to you and see your brand in a more positive light.

Essentially, behavior is changing and a lot of target audiences are shifting. It can be intimidating to think about but with strategic thinking and some creativity, it is entirely possible to still see growth and retain customers during the pandemic if you stay agile.

Marketing During “Unmarketable” Times

Head Social Media Strategist, Ashley Robinson, discusses some very interesting points on how companies are taking on the challenge of keeping their marketing fluid.

  1. Discounting prices
  2. Keeping prices the same and transitioning to digital products and services
  3. Going completely dark (not recommended)

In the space of social media and digital marketing, our team has seen so many different changes. There have been three main ways that our team and companies across the country have been impacted. The first is messaging. Messaging is already a key component to your marketing strategy. In times like this, how are you supposed to market to a marketplace that is technically unmarketable? The first thing we have seen companies changing is the hard sell approach by discounting. Or they are keeping prices the same and transitioning to completely digital products and services. We’ve also seen some companies go completely dark.

Above, Ashley mentioned the first way that companies are being impacted is by having to adjust their messaging. The second and third ways directly relate to how they listen to their audience base.

The second thing we noticed is that the more bureaucratic and vertical companies tend to lose that customer trust. They are not adapting to the market like they should. Whereas the more democratic and horizontal companies have really listened to their customer audience base and have changed the messaging to fit the needs and wants of those customers. The third is user-generated content has extremely expanded within the last couple of weeks. Right now, more than anything, it’s important for companies to truly listen to their audience base and what they are saying.

Amber discusses how key differentiators are being reassessed in order for companies to find success in the marketplace.

While we have seen some industries take a little bit of a slow down, we have also seen some that have ramped up. Many of our clients right now are taking a step back to focus on what their key differentiators are in the industry. One is “Made in the USA” that used to be something that was more of a patriotic marketing statement. Now, it is a much more pragmatic statement and it speaks to the reliability of the supply change.

We’re taking a big big focus on looking at their key differentiators and leaning into those because that is ultimately what makes them unique and successful in a marketplace that varies and shifts every single day.

In order to remain competitive and find new opportunities for business your company needs to be completely in tune with your customers and audience, assess your key differentiators, and discover new ways to offer value to consumers.

Adapting to change is difficult but with the right mindset and the right team, it is possible to make quick changes so that you can maintain your presence in your industry.

At RSM Marketing, we have a team of experts who are here to offer insight and solutions to help effectively craft new and adjust existing digital marketing campaigns. From SEO services to promotional video production, we are here to help set your business up for success in the digital world during these unpredictable times.

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Scott has a passion for growing companies using marketing and consulting with businesses to make their processes better. As a speaker and author, Scott loves to share knowledge and ideas. Scott is the President of RSM Marketing.

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