Marketing During Pandemic
The words “trust” and “community” are having a moment in marketing since the pandemic. But like the words “uncertain times,” they’re meaningless unless there are actions backing them up. Because trust and community aren’t built on hot air.
You’ve heard of Jerome McCarthy’s 5 Ps of marketing: Product, Place, Promotion, Price, and People. Marketers like us use the construct as a checklist for branding and marketing when we’re making plans to bring products, services and ideas to market. Since the pandemic, however, communications have changed – we need new approaches to communicating and new principles to guide us.
We also believe the corporate metrics of the future are changing. They’ll go beyond “creating a customer.” There will be an increased need for community and trust (the real kind!). Reputation, social engagement and purpose will become enduring corporate values.
Trust and community are built over time through many touchpoints. And consumers are smart. They know when they’re being played. Marketers need to rethink and adjust to focus on new metrics ahead.
Consider supplementing the “planning” 5Ps with Outfront Solutions’ 5Cs of go-to-market implementation:
The 5 Cs
The 5 C’s reflect concepts that we know work in marketing, but it “connects the dots” with new imperatives gaining traction in the marketplace.
It all starts with good branding and marketing: focusing on how the new environment has changed customer attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and of course, trust. Then it’s about making sure you’re using the best messages and media to connect at the right time.
One of the principles of change management is engaging your audiences in defining their own future and mapping the path to get there together. Given the pace of change, and that when you’re launching, repositioning and growing you’re creating change, it stands to reason that the principle applies here, too. And it does. Peer to peer marketing, reviews, and customer engagement are the pinnacles of influence and “stickiness” – so consider how you work with your audiences to design the future of your brand and organization through a lens of co-creation.
You know “content is king” – but do you know why? It’s because the Internet was not designed to deliver people – it was created to serve content. Today, no matter what adtech companies tell you, impressions are not people. If you’re paying a “cost per thousand” (CPM), it’s a CPM of what? Was anyone looking at the screen when your ad was shown? Was it clicked by accident (thanks, click bait). Or is your ad in the background while someone gets something to eat. (You get the idea). Research shows that up to 70% of your adtech dollar is wasted.
Content is the silver bullet. Bots don’t search for and click on topics of interest, people do. So content is your best friend for attracting eyeballs – the next task is converting them into sales, but we’ll save that for another day.
You probably have formed a trusted “pod” during the pandemic. Think of communities as expanded pods. We have communities already – whether it’s your work community, or your tennis club, or your online fandom. Being part of a community instills an immediate level of trust among members. An industry that has truly innovated in the area of community marketing is cruise lines. They have been doing specialized vacations for everyone from furries to Star Trek fans for decades, and those communities do the marketing for them delivering hefty profits.
We have a partner, Visionary, that is taking the community concept all the way. Through introductions (which you trust much more when you trust the recommender), Visionary brings people together for the sole purpose of creating value. The value is not just goods and services, but also comes in the form of advisors, team members, investors, and partners – and there is a currency attached to encourage you to both give and take from the community. Think about marketing to and through trusted communities going forward.
You certainly remember all the commercials talking about “we’re in this together,” “in these unprecedented times,” etc. That was an uninspired corporate approach to expressing compassion. Which is good. In fact, we think it’s an imperative to express authentic compassion. But too often it’s lacking authenticity. The key is to find your human compassion and express it as a human to other humans. Companies are trying so hard not to offend anyone that they’re getting nowhere in terms of being someone. And the Supreme Court says companies are people, so…
Yes, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but in branding, marketing and business development we have to be consistent. We get sick of saying and promoting the same thing across channels day in and day out, but it’s required. Because the only one reading all your posts is you. With the explosion of media, the disruption of our concentration by an unfathomable number of interruptions – you have to be consistent to get your message delivered, which should promote understanding, confidence, and trust over time.
Today, you have to show up. It’s not good enough to sponsor something once and walk away feeling like you did the right thing. People know when you’re just doing something for show. Instead, show your audiences what you believe in, and demonstrate your commitment by living it it at every turn.
What do you think? Are our 5Cs the new 5Ps, or are we missing something? We invite your thoughts and opinions!
About the Author:
Jeanine Moss, co-founder of Outfront Solutions is a brand development, marketing and communications specialist who guides people, organizations and brands from launch to re-positioning and growth. Well-schooled in cultural shifts and having guided numerous organizations through growth, investment and acquisition, Jeanine focuses on providing insightful, effective and practical solutions.