With the feeling that it is almost impossible to filter through the barrage of messaging coming at us regarding COVID-19 right now, and after reading more than my fair share, I wanted to take a different look at what we are experiencing. Last year, I read a Harvard Business Review article explaining how constraints are good for innovation. And we can all agree that this current time is absolutely constraining us. But, the reality of our situation is that our world will change in ways that could create opportunity out of all of this.
Here are 5 ways we can evolve from this situation as marketers:
- No More Walls: As we are all virtually working from home, it will be the norm to consider ‘meeting’ someone in this environment. Take healthcare for example, Telemedicine which has been on the fringe of our minds, now is at the forefront and will most likely have a speed of mass adoption. Getting advice and talking to a doctor in a virtual office will not seem as distant. Companies need to start to think about what kind of opportunities does this bring. Ironically, this new norm may help you uncover ways to be even closer to your customer, patient or member.
- Purpose Matters: Your purpose as a brand and as a company will continue to matter even more after this is over. How companies ‘show-up’ for their communities, employees, and customers will forever be emblazoned in our brains. And every company’s values are being tested. The values you have on your walls and in your collateral either did translate into that behavior or did not. This is also an opportunity for companies to think about audiences most affected by this differently. For example, women in the United States hold 76% of healthcare jobs according to the United States Census Bureau. In nursing alone, that number rises to 85%. This is a tremendous opportunity for brands that focus on women’s health to rise to the occasion in ways they never have thought of before, such as scholarships to nursing schools or assisting in paying their school debt.
- Virtual Reality: We are more isolated than ever. How can brands bring experience to life during this time and after? How can we stay connected and yet continue to be safe? This medium may be a bigger consideration in anyone’s marketing plans. Let’s start to consider varied use cases for VR by looking at different opportunities outside what we have typically heard about, such as gaming, education, psychological treatment, and training. For example, ‘trying’ on clothes virtually or a virtual salesperson to help me pick out my car and give me the driving experience in the comfort of my own home.
- Scenario Planning: When we are on the other side of this, how will our behavior’s change? We are changing our habits such as going to parks more, cooking at home, ordering take-out, streaming endless content, etc. The fear and anxiety will linger, but new trends will arise that will teach us that adaptation is constant. Businesses need to create environments where scenario planning is continuous, and managing uncertainty will invigorate us, not scare us.
- Entrepreneurial Attitude: When we are in crisis, rules that typically apply, no longer do. We are not held to the same rules for the greater good. Why don’t marketers and business leaders think like this more often? Yes, regulations and rules are in place for safety, fairness, and ethical reasons. I get it, but can we push on that a bit? Entrepreneurs think outside the box, they are willing to take risks. They are problem-solvers. And they have a deep passion to asking these questions, “Who are we? What do we do? Why do we do it?” Every company should ask these questions, and ask yourself if some of your own rules, are just creating more complexity. And ultimately creating more barriers for businesses to overcome and operate at their full potential.
It is clear that this pandemic is representing how we are all deeply and devastatingly affected (some far more than others), but we cannot lose sight of the opportunities on the other side of this to be even stronger and a bit wiser too.
Stay healthy and stay safe. #btdoingourpart