You might experience "the new normal fatigue." We have heard every day for months that things are changing and that our old way of doing business (and of life) cannot continue in the same way.
The challenge is that we are not told how to change. We might get some small bits of information and the occasional realistic idea on how to operate differently, but does our business really change? Does using Zoom calls change what our business is today? Not really. Not transformatively.
It is through transformative change, and not iterative change, that we are able to innovate and rethink. This is how we drive new energy into our business so it can grow into this "new normal" instead of focusing on simply surviving.
To resolve this conundrum, we need to look at one of the most traditional models of marketing: the 4P's.
The 4P's of Marketing in the COVID-19 Era
For a quick recap, the "4P's" marketing model refers to:
- Product — The product or service that you offer and what it does
- Price — The price customers pay and the pricing model
- Place — The place(s) customers can purchase and how the product is received
- Promotion — The promotions that place your product in front of potential customers
These are the four primary elements to marketing. While we often only consider Promotion, the three other elements define what is going to be promoted, how it will be purchased, and the economics behind it.
Let's look at how to rethink each of the P's based in the COVID-19 era.
P1: Product Development Due To COVID-19
As the world changes, so do consumer behaviors. How your customers operate day-to-day and what they are willing to do or what they value is shifting. Your former top-selling product may no longer hold that title. You need to adapt not based on your business history, but how buyers are changing today. Furthermore, adapting the product with technology is a cultural change, and it's imperative that your employees feel that their workplace is tech-forward. Questions to think about:
- Do you have a new flagship product? A product that is now low performing? What might be causing this?
- How can you deliver your products/services to your customers in their home?
- What technologies can augment or replace your current products/services?
P2: Changing Your Pricing Model
Based on how you change your product, your pricing may change as well. This could be from necessity, such as changing costs of goods sold or operating expenses, or due to value because you are now offering more than you have before. Ask yourself:
- What is it going to cost to make our products? To ship them? For new packaging?
- Should we cover shipping costs or pass them onto customers? Is there a threshold spend where this changes?
- How long will it take for our customers to receive our product? Is this going to be seen as a benefit or a drawback of buying from us?
P3: New Places To Sell And Distribute Your Products
Etsy, Amazon, Walmart, and many other traditional and digital platforms, new and old, are available to you. You can also carve your own space out online and develop a website that is eCommerce ready or capable of scheduling services digitally. COVID has made everyone more adept at buying and working virtually. Yet, you can't neglect your physical space. Be mindful of regulations and comforts provided in your office or store, if you have customers visit. Consider:
- In addition to safety regulations, what measures of comfort can we add to our establishment?
- Where can we sell or distribute our products online? What are the associated costs and opportunities?
- Where are our customers buying online today? What are they used to?
- Is it worth it to sell our products on our own website? Will our customers buy there?
P4: Promotions Appropriate During COVID-19
Getting in front of potential customers seems more complex yet more simple than ever. We're not sure what we should or shouldn't say and when and how to advertise our business. Yet, customers are spending more time online and we can reach them more easily with digital advertising and social media. The decision in what to say, how to say it, and where to invest our dollars is omnipresent. The best way to proceed is to simplify your thinking and be customer-first:
- What communication channels can we open?
- What offers can we make exclusively online? What offers are a better fit for the online audience?
- Where do our customers go online? Any particular websites or buying habits? How can we use this knowledge to advertise our business in these places?
- What can draw our audience to us? Can we provide helpful content like guides and how-to's to get their attention?
- What mix of marketing activities is going to work best by being efficient for us to perform and effective in reaching our audience?
My objective isn't to answer every question for you. Simply put, that's impossible. Everything about rethinking your marketing will be a complex decision process that only you can lead best with your intimate knowledge of your customers, market, products and operations.
These questions above are carefully catered to focus your attention through the 4P's. They are derived from a SCORE Workshop presented by KSA Marketing close to the start of the rapid changes produced by COVID-19.
That said, don't feel that you need to answer every question and reimagine every element of your business. Look through all the potential changes you can make. Start with a long list. Then, start to prioritize based on what you believe will be both most attainable and transformative to your business.
We have a long road ahead and the world never quite stops changing. Continual progress is our ultimate objective. Set your own milestone now on how your business will evolve and return to your list of potential projects when you've accomplished it.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.