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Marketing in Times of Crisis

How do you market anything in times of crisis? Simply put, now it’s even more important to get out of the way and meet consumer demands head-on with what they want, not what we think. Now is the time for us to attach less importance to aesthetics, storytelling, gimmicks and feel good campaigns and for hard-hitting direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing to be at its very best. Now is the time for true local marketing to be of service.

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Lastmile Retail

So how do you do that?

As marketers, we create agile and flexible campaigns and strive to capitalize on shifting marketing dynamics.  We’re asked to adapt to changing internal priorities, consumer demands and competitive threats.  However, our budgets are also set and don’t change much on a rolling basis.  Goals, measurement criteria and technology, amongst many other considerations, are in stone for this year.   So how do we adapt when the world gets flipped upside down and markets drastically change?  Most importantly, how can we best be of service to our companies, colleagues and most importantly customers, without whom we don’t survive?

We shift existing DTC channels and tactics slightly to get people the products they need now.

What’s in the arsenal today?

  • A branded website that’s engaging and mobile friendly
  • A customer-oriented SEO strategy
  • Paid media (i.e., Search, Social, etc.) that creates an ecosystem

What else is needed?

To create a robust DTC marketing strategy that drives engagement and ultimately local sales, brands and retailers today need the ability to promote a product or service straight to their target consumers.  For a shopper to then take action, the following 4 P’s of marketing need to be communicated, but updated to reflect today’s consumer demands:

  1. Product: You shouldn’t just offer an idea of what a store may carry.  Instead, you must offer a product or service available now to meet a consumer demand.  This necessitates the ability to pull in real-time inventory at the local level.
  1. Price: Since product costs will vary from location to location depending on supply, demand and regional nuances such as promotional considerations – you better pipe these variable costs directly into your marketing mix.
  1. Placement: Whether your product’s “home” is online or offline, you better be able to sell in a channel-agnostic manner and that necessitates transactionally-focused engagement options (i.e., Buy Now, Reserve, BOPIS, Appointment Booking, AI Chat, Intelligent Q/A, Call, etc.).  Placement meet Action.
  1. Promotion: While leveraging the first 3Ps, this means managing budgets in a targeted manner with hyperlocal promotional capabilities and driving cost-effective incentives wisely, like targeted digital coupons, to make your product irresistible to consumers.

The Opportunity Cost of Serving Just Pages

Driving any shopper to a static landing page that provides few transactional options will not provide the DTC capabilities needed to close the sale in any economy.  This is especially true as people shelter at home and look for ways to bridge the divide between the online and offline.  

In the end, not employing an Inventory Everywhere model leaves crucial revenue on the table, hurts your business and does not best serve customer needs today.  This matters more now considering the new reality of social distancing because if we come to a point where we must avoid public places for long period of time, consumers can still support their communities and buy locally using e-channels.  

This is especially true for how brands market consumer packaged goods (CPG) locally.  This is when digital marketing can be of service and have a big impact on how brands compete not just to retain current consumers but find new ones who are not frequent online shoppers.

Telling Doesn’t Support Local Selling

Remember that telling doesn’t support local selling, especially when employing DTC to drive engagement and local sales.  Just telling “high-intent” shoppers where your stores are located (when they’re hunkered down at home), giving contact and travel information or sharing high-level product categories without real-time inventory doesn’t get the job done.  Consumers want to know exactly what’s available for purchase in that moment of consideration for all of your locations with up-to-date, localized inventory at the store level.  If possible, they also want to support their local stores who have been hit hard.  Lastly, they’re looking to conserve or save money and require the latest promotions.  Only then will they make a purchase.

The Lastmile isn’t just sales, it’s service.  Learn more and support your communities today!