Times of crisis for all of us. The Corona crisis is not only slowing down the economy, it is putting many business activities at a standstill. In times of livelihood security, does marketing still play a major role at all? In which direction is the company’s engine turning?
Solutions are needed. Not in a week, not tomorrow – today. Where familiar work processes are no longer possible, where business channels no longer exist, companies are forced to set up new business models. For many companies, this rapid changeover is virtually impossible. Old structures are too entrenched, digital solutions appear to be costly and the necessary know-how is not available. What follows is a great deal of uncertainty coupled with fear. How am I going to recoup the missing revenue? How can I secure my existence? What does the future hold? How do I reach my customers?
The fact is that the current crisis is causing long-term changes in the market. Lost sales cannot be recovered 100%. What is feasible, however, is to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on entrepreneurial activities. What is required here is skillful action and responsible handling of the situation. The challenge lies not only in adapting distribution channels and maintaining communication with the target group, but above all in striking the right tone. At the moment, existential issues are coming to the fore. The Corona crisis also moves us emotionally and this also affects our consumer behavior. Priorities shift and the question arises, what is the current importance of my product for the consumer? What is my contribution?
One feeling that everyone is probably experiencing at the moment is uncertainty. No one really knows what is currently right or wrong. We take our cue from the behavior of others and adhere to recommendations for action that are adapted on a daily basis. So what are consumers looking for? The feeling of being part of a community and not alone gives us humans security. We want to be connected with others and we usually achieve that through communication and human encounters. Due to the current security-related restrictions on our lives and the resulting lack of contact, people are looking for new ways to let the sense of community emerge. In this respect, we are seeing developments in which social media channels such as TikTok, for example, are experiencing another major upswing. Why? Users can challenge each other, give each other feedback, and most importantly, this is how they share how they are handling the current crisis. When we see that others are dealing with the situation in a positive way, it inspires us, it infects us and gives us support.
What is the significance of these findings for marketing? It is clear that commercial advertising is currently taking a back seat. Edeka uses commercials to say thank you, and the Coca Cola Company completely discontinues all of its commercial ads. Companies now need to get on the same page as their consumers and create proximity. What counts now is the message. Companies should use their social media activities to make communication as personal as possible. Directly addressing the target group is now more important than ever. In addition to a clear statement and positioning of the company during the crisis, regular updates from operations should be posted to inform customers how to reach the company and what it offers. The Stories feature on Instagram can be credited with a big role here. Customers can be encouraged to support the company. At the same time, Q&A sessions or surveys can help create a sense of “we. So in times of Corona, marketing no longer means perfect product presentation, but rather a focus on crisis management – together with its customers.
However, the fact that such a stress test not only brings great challenges and also negative consequences becomes apparent when we take a look at internal processes. The deceleration of business operations should be used intensively to rethink one’s own marketing strategy. The target group can be closely observed and analyzed. At the same time, companies should reflect on current developments and learn from their own handling of the crisis situation in order to be better prepared for the future. Those who use the current situation to set up or optimize internal crisis management will emerge stronger from this period. It is important that we do not fall into a stupor of action despite restrictions, but present ourselves as attentive and responsible players on the market, who are still capable of acting, and who manage the situation together with their customer group. That’s the only way we’ll get off lightly again – but we’re moving on.