2020 began like every other year with experts making predictions about how the year ahead would play out. Experts looked into their crystal ball to explain how retail, tech, education, and other major economic areas would change because of disruptive transformations in the marketplace. Nobody, however, foresaw how COVID-19 would bring about unprecedented changes almost overnight. As a result, planners are having to completely revisit the underlying assumptions behind their 2020 strategies to adapt effectively in the world that will emerge in the aftermath of COVID-19.
5 Ways You Can Adapt to the New Normal
The ongoing pandemic flipped the field of loyalty marketing and rewards and recognition on its head. The personal and professional lives of individual customers have been completely changed as many people reconsider the very notion of loyalty. After all, incredibly disruptive changes have now emerged.
In the retail industry, for instance, many buyers are asking why they should even consider going to stores in the future now that they realize how online shopping can solve conventional needs. Customer loyalty to a particular store, therefore, may no longer exist at all when it is conceptualized in accordance with existing paradigms. Many retail stores will have to completely rethink how they will establish loyalty in the “new normal” that will come about once the world reopens. Similar trends in loyalty marketing are appearing in every industry.
Given the incredible amount of change that has just taken place, businesses now have to reconsider what the future holds for loyalty marketing. Consequently, we decided to brainstorm what changes loyalty marketers are likely to have to overcome in order to prosper in the aftermath of COVID-19. What will the very notion of business-to-business loyalty even mean in the near future? What will be the sources of success in the new form of B2B loyalty marketing that will come out on top? These are the questions that we sought to solve with five key points.
1. The Time for Change Is Now
COVID-19 has forced entire sectors of the economy to close and suspend their operations. Thus, the time is now to implement changes in your loyalty strategy because buyers are looking for solutions now. Once customers have acquired the information that they need to adapt to the crisis, they are likely to have plans of action in place that may not involve your company.
Consequently, the time is now to conduct thorough planning to assess the ongoing crisis with your clients. In the process of evaluating the situation, you will be able to develop innovative ideas to profit from the windfall of sales that will occur once reopening happens. To get the most out of the sales tsunami that is over the near-term horizon, your business will need to already have an engaged audience. Once your audience is engaged, they will be ready to turn to your business when they are ready to invest in programs that are designed to increase their market share.
A trickle of reopening is already taking place, and these businesses at the tip of the spear already have high demand for the products and services that are essential for their operations. Getting your feet wet by vigorously pursuing these clients can give your business an opportunity to understand the unique needs of these emerging clients. In this way, your business will be fully prepared when the critical mass of clients becomes a reality in the marketplace.
The key to seizing the opportunities that will come up is to start a strong loyalty program now. If you are a professional who provides B2B loyalty marketing services, you should already be actively seeking clients who are looking for help with improving their reopening strategy. Businesses that are directly in need of establishing loyalty programs for their own purposes should secure service providers now to get necessary assistance before demand overwhelms available providers.
2. Online Enablement Is the New Reality
As soon as the pandemic hit, a surge of new users started to rely on Zoom, a video-based collaboration platform, for the first time in their lives. Although Zoom had been around since 2011, many professionals perceived it as an inferior form of communication. Instead, conventional in-person conversations were the norm in the business world.
Once people had no choice but to use online collaboration tools, however, professionals quickly realized how effective these modern tools had become. After all, the poor reputation that video-based solutions had in the recent past was based on the reality that these services suffered from serious issues because they were still in their infancy. Today’s online collaboration tools are highly optimized, and they are objectively superior to in-person collaboration in many ways because these tools are optimized to facilitate effective communication.
The key implication of the shift to Zoom and other online collaboration tools is that customers are now going to demand online enablement at every touchpoint. You will now need to provide tools to facilitate the creation of an interactive community that surrounds your products and brands. Online enablement will no longer be a tool to simply get more traffic from search engines or to make your content go viral on social media. Instead, customers are going to quickly begin to seek out solutions that will enable them to get work done online without having to physically leave their homes or offices.
3. Data-Driven Decisions Will Become a Buyer Expectation
The entire world of business is now premised on the quality of projections that seek to estimate when the world will reopen. People can easily observe how the projected availability of vaccines or the emergence of studies related to COVID-19 can completely shift the entire stock market in seconds. As a result, business leaders have become much more aware of the effectiveness of using high-quality data and sound analysis for determining future outcomes.
Customers are now going to start expecting businesses, employees, and service providers to make full use of sound analysis. In the past, many customers were fine with half measures that relied on simple averages and specious data. The decisions that drive developments in the new economy, on the other hand, will increasingly be driven by rigorous information.
Customers will become more sophisticated in analysis for their own internal purposes, and these skills will be equally applied when evaluating your products and services. Therefore, you can attract a broad base of customers by providing them with research-driven strategies to get the solutions that they need.
4. COVID-19 Will Change Human Expectations
There is no denying that COVID-19 has been a difficult time for everyone on an emotional level. Some people have experienced COVID-19 firsthand while other people know loved ones who have the virus. Even people who do not have direct experience with the virus can see for themselves how many lives have been disrupted by simply turning on a television or flipping through a social media feed. Consequently, the entire society has been traumatized by the amount of pain and suffering that is occurring.
In most instances, the incentives of customers have completely changed on a human level. Many people are simply happy to be healthy and alive. They may no longer be seeking the aspirational goals that they sought before the pandemic. Some people have decided to take significant time off to spend with their families, and their personal sojourns are likely to continue long after the pandemic has ended. There are even some cases where people are planning to downsize to take an early retirement.
Your marketing strategy needs to factor in the increased level of sensitivity, empathy, and selflessness that many people are exhibiting. Morals are likely to become more important as well. Businesses that open up to aggressively, for instance, could end up losing in the long run due to customer backlash. Meanwhile, businesses that open up in an empathetic and socially sensitive manner are more likely to win customers who stick around.
5. New Engagement Strategies
The increased level of sensitivity that people are feeling will also impact how businesses should engage with their customers. You will need to engage with people on a deeper level by taking actual actions to engage rather than merely paying your clients lip service. The age-old maxim that “actions speak louder than words” will become more important than ever before as a more sensitive culture begins to demand a higher level of authenticity.
You will be able to win clients over in the long run by providing them with actual gestures that appeal to their emotions. Companies that send emails to their clients that merely state how they are adapting to COVID-19 and empathizing with their clients could actually spark backlash since people will become more accustomed to actual action. In contrast, meaningful engagement could lead to stronger impressions than many businesses saw in the recent past.
Implementing campaigns that demonstrate purposeful engagement, therefore, will become an important facet of any effective strategy in loyalty marketing. By appealing to people on a truly engaging level, you will be able to win them over as long-term clients to drive revenue that will truly be sustainable over time.