Marketing and branding rules need to be rewritten – and the lessons of the pandemic will help

The pandemic has upended a marketer’s playbook, challenging existing rules about customer relationships and brand building. There is no going back to the old normal. Here are seven new marketing belief systems needed to drive growth in a post-Covid world.

The pandemic crisis reinforced what we already knew: that brands need to communicate in very local terms, targeting specific consumers based on their situation and what is most relevant to them. This means understanding the situation on the ground, country by country, state by state, zip code by zip code. For some businesses, this may even mean tailoring communications on a store-by-store basis.

Beyond geography, we’ve learned that marketing messages need to be personally relevant, aligned with an individual’s situation and values, as opposed to demographics. Creating a personal connection in any commercial message requires defining consumer segments that describe people across multiple dimensions that influence buying behavior – from their psychographic characteristics to attitudinal characteristics.

Using customer segmentation can provide deeper insights into media strategies and creative marketing approaches. Even better, this information can be leveraged to inform the entire customer journey.

You are not in competition with your competitors

Consumer expectations were already on the rise before COVID-19. Generation Z has grown up with technology seamlessly integrated into their lives. When the coronavirus hit, digital transformation accelerated overnight.

This has skyrocketed consumer expectations of what companies could do for them with a more digital experience. The customer expects much more than just a transparent digital transaction. With businesses now in control of their personal data, their customers want personalized experiences across the entire journey map.

Customers don’t expect you to get what they want

If the bar keeps rising, we need to aspire to new values ​​around customer experiences – in a B2C and B2B context. Consumers expect any experience to be seamless, anticipated, relevant and connected. They only care about getting what they want, when they want it.

Creating these experiences forces companies to put data and technology at the heart of their organization. This likely means bringing some degree of machine learning and/or AI into the mix. Why?

Because data allows us to create more relevant experiences in one or more of the four Cs dimensions: Content, Commerce, Community and Convenience.

Marketers need to reinvent the rules more – the changes created by the pandemic will be quite profound.

Courting customers is not like dating someone

Marketing was largely about buying mass reach or targeted reach at top media rates and hoping to convert. Basically, it was like going to as many parties as possible in hopes of finding that special someone. It was a world of spontaneity, serendipity and, frankly, lots of face-to-face encounters.

Enter online matchmaking and browse applications. Now, finding your perfect match may be less about luck and more about data and algorithms. In terms of marketing, we have seen a shift from brand marketing to reach development to performance marketing to generate leads. The acceleration of digital channels by the pandemic has only exacerbated this.

Although performance marketing occupies a strong and important position in the mix, I have recognized that it is a good balance between brand marketing and performance marketing that gives the best results.

Customers should not only be at the heart of your marketing strategy

The concept of customer orientation is not new. However, the functional silos that interact with customers are often disconnected due to policies, organizational charts, technologies, or geography. The key to success is hiding these internal disconnects from the customer, who assumes the whole company knows about them holistically.

We must remember that marketing is often only the beginning of a relationship with the customer. In a B2C context, we go through a journey of engaging them, converting them into a sale directly or indirectly, and then hopefully retaining them so they become advocates and potentially open to upsells and cross-sells. Marketing should be seen in the context of the full end-to-end journey and, where possible, strive to connect the dots.

A brand should not be limited to good products

The pandemic has truly tested brand loyalty. In fact, key themes from a study show that while quality, convenience and price still matter a lot to consumers’ choice, factors such as sustainability, trust, ethical sourcing and social responsibility are important. for how consumers select their products and services.

Therefore, marketing has an opportunity to educate the entire C-suite on the importance of brand values ​​when it comes to differentiating in a post-pandemic market.

Marketing should not only be considered important for the growth of a brand

There was a time when marketing was a cost center within companies whose primary responsibility was to maximize return on investment. In difficult times when the best results were compromised, it was often one of the first areas to be cut.

During the pandemic, marketing has been elevated within the C-suite as the driver of digital transformation, a key customer journey leader, and the voice of the consumer – all of which are paramount to other functional leaders. Without understanding the market, the C suite cannot adapt to threats and opportunities and navigate the future.

COVID-19 has created an immediate collaborative leadership culture focused on the urgent need for resilience. Marketing now has the opportunity to seize a continued central role in this dialogue, driving the organization’s broader growth and innovation agenda.

These new marketing belief systems embody this mix, highlighting the confluence of strategies, operations, and technologies needed to drive growth. Embracing them is the path to pandemic recovery and long-term success.