The pandemic forced most businesses to change how they operate. For many, those changes were most apparent in their marketing. And now, as companies find their new normal, they’re also finding other, new approaches to their marketing.
“I look at this as going through filters,” says Lonny Kocina, the Cape Coral-based CEO of Media Relations Agency and author of The CEO’s Guide to Marketing. “The market environment change in the pandemic was a filter we all had to go through and … come out on the other side. A lot of people have found out already that it’s changed your business model. You have the four P’s of marketing: price, product, place, promotion. I look at marketing as primarily promotion. [During the pandemic] people had to spend a little bit more time on price, on place and on product.”
Beyond a greater focus on their products, prices and the places where they were sold, the changes in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic also required business owners to reconsider where, and how, they promote. For most, that meant a broader shift toward digital marketing. “A lot of those (businesses) that were resistant to traditional marketing tools and marketing platforms, were forced 100% into reaching audiences through digital platforms,” says Connie Ramos-Williams, president and CMO of CONRIC PR + Marketing in Naples and Fort Myers.
“Retail stores that we represented really had to develop an e-commerce way of selling their merchandise, because people were not able to come into their stores. Now, coming back is going to get the retail, in-store back up there. But they also have this increased revenue stream because of the e-commerce side of their business that they implemented and developed during this past year of the pandemic. Those that didn’t go the e-commerce path are in full development mode of their new e-commerce online stores. So if, God forbid, another pandemic or another situation such as we all endured happens, they are primed and ready to continue their business as usual, but online.”
Given the sudden online consumer shift brought on by the pandemic, even businesses that were already engaged in digital marketing had to modify their approach and their messaging. For some, that led to a renewed emphasis on social media, content marketing and influencer marketing. And while those trends have continued as business slowly began returning to normal, the worker shortage in Southwest Florida is driving many companies to once again change their digital marketing approaches. “Especially now, after the pandemic, people are trying to ramp up their HR. Every business platform is different, but we’re doing a lot more LinkedIn advertising,” Ramos-Williams says.
“Everyone that we know is looking to hire and to reach new hires and new talent. We’re doing a lot more marketing and branding for our clients to really brand their culture and their company, and attract talent acquisition for them on the LinkedIn platform.”
Ultimately, both Ramos-Williams and Kocina agree that the pandemic forced business owners to reconsider how, and where, they market their goods and services going forward. While no one knows what the future may hold, both also agree that companies should remain flexible, try not to get rattled if the marketing environment changes and keep telling their brands’ stories. “I don’t think you have to look for some startling new thing that you need to do right now. If you’ve got something that’s already going, you’ve got a good chance of making a lot of money right now,” Kocina says.
“From a marketing perspective, [the pandemic] is not holding us back anymore. Consumers have the money, they have the energy, they’ve been cooped up. It’s a brand new day. The sun’s shining and business is good. That’s the time to really put your nose to the grindstone, ramp up your marketing and go for it.”