How to do your marketing during Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic
Today I will discuss the right digital marketing strategies you should follow in the post Covid-19 period in India. Business are confused and clueless how to survive and do better during this Corona pandemic (During Covid times) in India and even globally businesses are suffering. Digital marketing & digital transformation are the keys here. I will discuss the first thing – digital access and digital divide in India and some facts about it.
Corona virus is taking tolls on life as well as on global economy. India is not exception. Businesses need survival strategies during Covid-19 and even post Covid 19 period to sustain. So how to market during corona? What effective digital marketing strategies you should take during Covid-19? These digital marketing strategies though focus more for India but these tips are equally applicable for all businesses globally. Let’s discuss.
Digital access and digital divide in India
As per the world economic forum there is approximately 41% active internet users in India. Approximate 1.4% productive consumption of Internet and contribution to online retail sales in India as compared to the developed countries. Developed countries have 14% productive consumption of Internet and contribution to online retail sales. And the third statistics is approximately 28% of active internet users in India are below the age group of 18.
These three statistics that I have shared above are important because our digital marketing strategies in the covid-19 period will obviously be dependent on these data.
Most affected industries in India for Covid-19
As per Dun & Bradstreet, find below the industry wide impact of Covid-19 in India along with tentative recovery timeline. Businesses should be well prepared with the contingency plan and move towards a sustainable plan with the help of digital marketing strategies.
The impact of Covid-19 in digital media consumption in India
As per comscore, during corona virus / covid-19 peak in 2020, the digital media consumption in India has significantly increased for online news sites, business or finance sites , health information sites, healthcare retail sites, online gaming sites, web based streaming sites & online free education sites, where as it has seen sharp drops in travel sites, hotel sites, airlines, car transportation sites & sports sites .
Current challenges in India
In covid-19 period most of the businesses are facing this following challenges
- Less productive consumption of digital media
- lack of digital literacy
- improvement of infrastructure needed for Digital economy
- logistics and structural challenges to remove for eCommerce companies
- facing altered consumer behaviour
- creating sustainable and alternative business strategies
Now to overcome the challenges and to create a sustainable digital model for business, we need to understand the altered consumer behaviour and how we can utilise the data and Statistics that I have shared above.
What is altered consumer behaviour and the new normal
Now I will discuss five altered consumer behaviour in covid-19 period and I will explain the points one by one.
- Altered consumer psychology for non essential things and against artificial demands
- Wait and watch consumer psychology
- Panic buying psychology
- Slow and less consumption over a longer period of time
- The WHY factor of buying behaviour
We have noticed in the covid-19 period that people are mostly focusing only essential things and their skepticism about their spend on non essential things. Also they are identifying easily what is an artificial demand and what is a natural need. so businesses need to try to mold their product and services into the essential category and if your business is under non essential category then you need to think about new innovative ways of driving the business with the digital transformation and the revenue engineering process.
Wait and watch consumer psychology means people now are patiently waiting and watching the market conditions and accordingly they are deciding their spend.
Panic buying psychology is mostly buying out of fear and the most common examples are like unnecessary storing of essential commodities such as groceries, sanitizers, masks and gloves.
The consumers are now slow in consumption and they are consuming less and for a longer period of time.
Before buying anything most of the cases people are questioning why I should buy it so this why factor is important in purchasing decisions of the consumers. Businesses should prepare these answers in their brand messages.
Crisis marketing and communication methods
Now we know the statistics, the challenges and the altered consumer behavior or the new normal in the covid-19 and post covid-19 period. Now the companies should take the following steps to effectively deal with the crisis marketing and the communication.
How to do digital marketing during Covid-19 outbreak?
- Focus to increase digital literacy – so as we know from the statistics above, digital literacy is very less in India and so companies and businesses need to identify where and how they can generate awareness and accordingly they have to create educational content for their business or product or services and they should educate their potential customers. As an example if we see the Fitbit app or welltory app, they educate you with the health terms like heart rate variability or h r v, SDNN etc.
- CSR face of Companies – corporate social responsibility face of companies will help in connection and brand building
- Target younger audiences- as we know from the statistics at most of the internet users in India are young generation people so businesses should focus their service offering and product offerings towards the younger audience.
- Businesses should think of ways to increase productive consumption of digital media – for example, businesses can think about engaging digital content that can be emotional content, brainstorming content, opinion best content, gaming content and so on.
- Give better access to your products and services to users – in your digital transformation process you should take care about the ease of access of your products and services to users. Whether you make a website or a Facebook page or payment gateway system or simple communication method you should keep focus on giving better accessibility. For example, you can keep local language on your website for your local users. You can give a mobile friendly website to your users for better experience.
- Do a salt Shaker test while you go digital – A salt shaker test is to fulfill the most basic needs of your customers related to your product or services or business before you add top ups or decoration or additional benefits or value with your product, service or business..So before you start digital marketing, do this test for your business. Give attention to minute detail that is upfront not visible or felt but absence/ malfunctioning of it can be problematic for your customers. Small, simple but powerful.
Example – You have visited a 5 star super luxurious restaurant and ordered a delicious dish and you got it really nice. Awesome decoration, warm welcome, cordial staff, excellent ambiance and everything is just perfect but the moment you thought of adding a little bit of salt into it, you took the salt dispenser and started shaking it but unfortunately found even after repeated shaking , nothing coming out …Even after all these great experiences, still you will feel frustrated and irritated.
- Mass inclusion is very important- You should keep diversifying your offerings, pricing and targeting in a way that you can reach more and more people. Your main objective should be reaching the Critical Mass with a lower price and better value.
- Extended crisis marketing strategy with non aggressive subtle messages.
- Keep clear outcomes against what users pay & how. More value oriented approach.
- Non essential services or products keep regular subtle communication & try alternate sustainable models.
Digital Transformation Strategies
Taking Business Online – The preliminary 5 questions
For digital transformation of your business, you first consider these following 5 questions and note down the thoughts and answers in pen and paper. Once done, you need to move to the next step. All Indian marketers should work on these digital marketing tips at Covid-19 period.
- Is my business eligible to take online? If yes, what to do, if no, then what?
- What are the strategic aspects to take it online?
- What are the technical aspects to take it online?
- What is the cost involved?
- I have initiated taking it online, but now what?
The step-by-step strategic aspects.
Make a 7-point blueprint for your business survival strategies in post Covid-19 in India
- Look at your touch-points (How you communicate or connected to your team, vendors and clients) – Internal (Team) & External (Vendors, Leads, Client)
- Look at your communication process.
- Look at your operational & admin/HR process.
- Look at your accounting process.
- Look at your marketing & sales process
- Look at your delivery process.
- Look at process optimization (maximizing productivity)
You look at these 7 points and note down your present processes and then think how and what % of these tasks you can automate or take online / digitally. Once you do this practice in pen and paper this will give you a clear idea about what you can do. Please note that 60- 75% businesses can take their processes fully online.
Once this process is done, you should go to the next step of considering the technical aspect of implementing.
The Technical Approach & Tools for 7-point blueprint
You may or may not need all tools. A combination can work well.
- G Suite – For email, calendars, drive, hangout, team collaboration
- Trello – Easy drag & drop project or task management
- Larksuite.com – Team collaboration, video conference, projects, chats
- Basecamp – Project & team task management
- WhatsApp for business or Telegram – Day to day quick communication through groups
- Facebook chat message automation tool, Facebook business (Team)
- Hubspot CRM or drift.io or intercom or getgobot.com, Mobile Monkey Chatbot for lead funnel & chatbot
- Zoom, anymeeting, gotomeeting, webex, Google meeting for video conference.
- KickIdler.com or TimeDoctor for remote employee monitoring.
- CCAvenue, PayU, PayTM, GPay, PhonePe, RazorPay
- Moodle, Teachable, Udemy for LMS
- Zoho, quickbooks for accounting
- AI based content automation tools like Articoolo, Gtranslate & more
- Competitive research tools like Spyfu, Ubersuggest, Alexa and more
Case Examples of businesses how they can adapt digital marketing strategies in Covid-19
- An Institute has started virtual classroom with zoom or WebEx or Google Meet & created LMS for videos
- A restaurant converted it as a food collection center as well to take orders online and deliver through own/swiggy, zomato ubereats.
- An automobile company started providing online games with their cars along with 360 degree photos & AR based driving experience to customers. Pre-order or initial booking process or communication is made fully online.
- A gym instructor/zumba trainer has taken his/her whole class live online and made a membership app for recorded class videos.
- A shoe store has converted it’s website to eCommerce along with customized 1-1 consultation and online form to submit show size or other data.
- Jewellery stores/luxury goods started online schemes & future possession/virtual possession of items.
- Travel agencies can focus on VR based travel products & services, local radius based travel plans with safety precautions.
What you can do in lock-down for your business
- Focus more on long term branding rather than short term conversion.
- Be empathetic with the community & fine tune your brand message & tone in that line.
- Try to learn new skills (Digital Marketing or Web Analytics or App Development) utilizing your time & always relate the applicable areas matching to your business.
- Try to take your business online applying & experimenting with the said strategies & tools here. Try to keep both offline & online models of your business.
- Do Revenue engineering. Try innovative ways how you can reach critical mass (mass inclusion) and accordingly set pricing and expand your business in new areas. Go vertically deep or horizontally expand / diversify.
- Keep an omni-channel presence.
- Educate, Excite, Engage (The E3 formula) to apply & 4E formula of Putting your 100% Energy, Energize others, Execute well & show Empathy. That’s the key to success in all odds.
How to market during Corona?
- Go digital. If you don’t have a website yet,build it soon.
- Focus more on educational content on your website.
- Help others by offering freebies or take freemium model of your product or services.
- Focus on creating excellent content for your users that simply add value.
- Do SEO.
- Focus on Google My Business for local promotion.
- Go global with translate & transcribe.
- Focus on Social Media Marketing with relevant posts and empathetic softer note.
- Run ads tactfully (Don’t be pushy) for branding.
- Run bulk emailers wth personalization & automation.
- Participate in facebook groups, WhatsApp group or linkedin groups and start meaningful discussions.
- Start comment marketing.
- Start FB live, Free webinars or make Short but Crisp YouTube videos / premieres / live streaming.
- You can start podcast.
- Collaborate with other influencers in your domain and do online group activities.
- Try to get more positive reviews for your business.
- Ask directly for help / feedback / suggestions from your customers.
- Define pricing strategy for mass targeting at affordable or low cost but with better value & clear outcome.
- Focus more on customer needs, data analysis on buying patters.
- Focus on great customer experience.
- Explore new marketing channels. Prepare right digital marketing mix. Experiment. Act & execute fast.
PDF book – Decoding Digital Marketing Strategies in Post Covid-19 Era
10 Power Tasks to do for your business survival during Covid phase.
- Plan on your expenses – essential & non essential. Remove non essential part.
- Focus more on revenue. Try & experiment with mass inclusion model or pricing or diversification
- Run your business on cash flow only. Forget about fund or accrual .
- Re negotiate with bank for existing loans.
- Train your team to excel & be super productive. Implement global best practices. Improve your lead funnel mechanism.
- Build personal relationship with vendors, clients, customers. Make it better, personal & stronger
- Improve your process or products. Focus on clear outcome.
- Do a micro level Covid impact analysis on your own business & take corrective measures.
- Go Digital. Learn how to take your business online
- Stay happy, positive, healthy & alive. That’s very important.
I have discussed about these digital marketing strategies in Covid-19 period in India in the national webinar organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with two other eminent panelists. I have received many questions from the 180+ audiences from various industries. I am posting few of the questions-answers below.
FAQs about digital marketing strategies in post Covid-19 era in India
What small scale manufacturing units should do as its hard for them to come online and orders are stopped because of lockdown. We are iron gate, window & grill manufacturer.
My suggestions – 1. Go digital with website, FB (B2C), target b2b through LinkedIn, add up innovation like iron gate with spray sanitizing …run some awareness ads also on Google & Facebook.
Any suggestions on community screening of sports and events? and the Fitness & Turf industries?
Go digital with sports events ..live streaming, reselling recorded events, make app for subscription based offerings, plan some contests, engagements ..(ask people to upload videos, images etc). You need to train them……digital literacy you need to work on….share documentation..knowledge-base…..chat based automated help.
If you check Fitbit app or Welltory, you can understand how they are already doing this. Maybe a quick read into the Puretec fitness and how AIB and GAA is going online will give some more ideas. Also check out Qatar 2022 World Cup is designing a Context-Based Decision-Making Approach.
What will be the impact of Covid in the job market, what will be its consequences?
The job market is going to be under pressure with many mass-recruiters choosing to defer or cancel their hiring for 2020-21. And many organisations have freezed hiring. Having said that, there will be some upswing in hiring and specially in the skilled space (Digital Marketing, Analytics, AI, Creative Work).
In the hiring space, my advice would be to skill yourself very well. Look at jobs as projects and a lot of companies are going hire contract or gig formats. Get yourself ready with new skill update like digital marketing, analytics, cyber security, creative work, at initial level be flexible to accept a lower compensation though ..work on strategic and creative level and continuous skill upgrade.
We are into consulting on management of energy, water, carbon, renewable and other environmental aspects. this requires visiting company sites and measuring various operational parameters first hand, investigating for gaps and faults in processes, practices and technologies. how do we take this entire service online?
There are quite a few Companies using Digitization and IoT based solutions to handle their partial operations which you may explore. I think Phygital will fit your consulting work well. IoT, analytics and predictive or pattern based results, etc. along with physical visits in a controlled environment. Think in this way what you do visiting there if the same you can do digitally ..like checking videos from them or live video cams and a google form to get the data you need.
With Covid-19, digital channels are becoming too noisy. What to do?
That’s true, that’s why more innovation, unique campaigns needed. And best of best content…..tactics….digital would be noisy , competition will rise but you have to play tactfully. the space is going to be extremely noisy but then so is all the other media. We need to find specific strategy that is going to be a much more focused in terms of reach to hit upon the TG.
How would Marketing for Value Apparel Retail in Tier II or Tier III cities happen post lockdown?
Have you thought of virtual storefronts? And working on a near-real experience for the lessor digitally suave audience? still a little apprehensive about Tier II & III cities, where it is still more of visits to shops. But I think e-Commerce like Flipkart and Amazon are gaining space with better distribution models at place.
How can companies penetrate the rural market through digital marketing where most of the people doesn’t use a smartphone ?
All of them have television penetration hence a product description through TV and order by mobile will change the game. The distribution can happen from nearest town in hub and spoke model. This is already in place in some parts of AP and Karnataka. Also the model is already there by TV Shop with prominent number displaying on screen to order. Same can be done by FM ads or programs.
Any advice for real estate sector – residential units?
Real estate is to its all-time lowest level in the quarter ended March. Both residential and commercial real estate sectors are expected to be hit in term of launches, sales and prices, showed a Knight Frank India survey. Property price may drop to 20% and for the time being real estate companies can give their customers some lucrative offers or schemes, run some awareness ads on digital space to keep the momentum.
Do you have anything in mind how to combat the global economic slowdown? How to prepare a business contingency plan or business survival strategies in post Covid-19 period? Share in comment. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to share in comment section below.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay ALIVE. You will win. We will win.DEBAJYOTI BANERJEE, FOUNDER & CEO, SEVEN BOATS