Recently we shared the first post in our three-part series highlighting a few considerations brands of all shapes and sizes should focus on to better serve and support current and future customers in the months ahead.
We started things off with ensuring there is a strong, clear focus on reality. This week is all about understanding the importance of brands incorporating a certain level of flexibility into their holiday season strategies.
While perhaps not impossible, it isn’t always realistic to plan for every possible change this holiday season. Instead, the agility to be able to shift strategies rapidly to better serve the current, immediate needs of customers now, can better prepare brands to succeed in the future.
One way to incorporate flexibility into your holiday planning is to reimagine your brand’s “Four Ps” of marketing: product, place, price and promotion.
Product: Do the products that we’re highlighting for consumers this holiday season match their right-now requirements and mindset?
If the answer is no, then take some time to identify what adjustments can be made in the short-term to best serve your customer and community and assess how those short term changes will be reflected in long-term planning priorities.
As the COVID-19 infection rate remains high, chances are most consumers will still be spending the majority of their time at home through the end of the year, limiting holiday gatherings and out-of-home activities. Narrowing in on product and solution categories in a way that helps audience members feel more supported and secure will resonate with customers in the short and long-term, building brand trust and loyalty with the knowledge that a brand has taken the time to understand the people that it serves.
Place: How can we reimagine our customer experience to ensure customers are able to access what they want and need, while making sure everyone involved feels safe and supported?
The pandemic has dramatically affected the way that consumers engage with brands in terms of educating, buying and receiving products and services. Whether consumers are weighing the benefits of a home energy audit, or they’re looking to purchase a few books from the local bookstore as holiday gifts, the majority of interactions will take place virtually. A study from McKinsey found that, globally, 30 to 60 percent of consumers intend to shift online for holiday shopping.
Brands across industries can implement a few best practices to maintain a high level of satisfaction and support while ensuring a wholly positive user experience:
- Evaluate current support resources: Is a virtual chat option available? If so, is it easy and intuitive for a customer to access and use?
- Consider creating virtual video demonstrations of support activities that may have normally taken place in person, such as how-to demonstrations; sales demonstrations or product or service tutorials
- Similarly, is there sufficient online educational content easily available for consumers to access? Online FAQs, fact sheets, social media posts and blog posts are particularly useful to keep customers informed and aware of any ongoing changes to product and service offerings, delivery schedules and levels of support available at any given time.
- For interactions that still take place in person, are delivery and touchless payment options optimized to ensure that the safety of both employees and customers is a top priority?
Price: “How flexible can we be when it comes to price adjustments, offers, or flexible financing in order to help customers access the products and services they’re most in need of?
While price can be one of the hardest variables to be flexible on, especially for brands already struggling in the current economic climate, taking some time to evaluate where adjustments can be made will not go unnoticed by customers.
If flexible financing wasn’t an option prior to COVID-19, could it be an option now? Could a subscription service be a reasonable way to discount certain products and services while ensuring repeat purchases over time? Does your brand offer multiple complementary products and services that could now be bundled and offered at a slightly different price point? Could your brand tier pricing so that customers could still access essential products and services?
Promotion: How might the way audience members seek information about our brand’s products or services change? And what do they really need to hear from us in those messages?
This holiday season, brands will not only need to consider how the way consumers engage with their brand might change, they will also need to account for the context in which they receive information. Yes, consumers are spending more time at-home and online, but what channels are they actually using to research and purchase holiday gifts or essential products and services? And what messaging is resonating most?
Just one example: a recent study from Digital Marketing Institute found that 86 percent of women now rely on social media for purchasing decisions. Take a look at the various channels your brand is currently using and the messaging that is currently out in the market and evaluate what is performing best. Are more customers engaging with content on your social channels? Are blog posts driving conversions on your website? Have you seen a spike in video views on your brand’s YouTube channel?
Taking the time to evaluate the nitty gritty analytics of how consumers are responding to messaging and where they are accessing that messaging allows brands the opportunity to be flexible in their marketing strategies, optimizing toward the channels where consumers are finding the most value.
Stay tuned! In our next EnergyWire we’ll take a look at the final component of our three-part holiday series, which will discuss the importance of incorporating personalization into your 2020 holiday planning.
Get caught up on the full series: