Eight weeks ago, the first COVID-19 case was reported in Wuhan, China. With it, came a widespread ripple effect that has now reached all corners of the world, including our North American homeland. This fearful time has caused significant fluctuations in consumer behaviors, driving the rise and fall of various industries across the board. From the disproportionate rise in health-related products and services such as hand sanitizers, toiletries, take-out, and online ordering, to the demise of other industries, such as hospitality, restaurants, bars, and the fashion industry, we’ve witnessed unprecedented changes to our economy and consumerism.
Reports from numerous entrepreneurial publications, such as Forbes, and Nielson have concluded that these unique purchasing behaviors are a direct correlation to current news media and governmental reporting, as well as state-wide restrictions and “shelter-in-place” mandates. Each wave of fresh news has fostered a consistent overzealous fear-based buying trend, one that is centered around stockpiling, online purchasing, and preparing for the unknown. With the current diminished ability for in-store purchases, people are cutting back on non-necessities, and reducing outside interactions, leading to major economic consequences. Restaurant and bar closures, concert and entertainment cancellations, quarantines and social distancing recommendations have garnered a larger impact than anyone saw coming. Though what we have lost from this pandemic, we have gained in understanding.
Disregarding current economic turmoil, one unexpected silver lining is that we have been able to closely scrutinize consumer statistics and unique e-commerce trends that will undoubtedly inform our ensuing business practices and motivations moving forward. We should all utilize this novel insight and purchasing transparency to reevaluate our businesses and prepare to lead the way when the dust begins to settle. This pandemic has exemplified just how crucial the e-commerce component has become to any business, regardless of size or industry.
An applicable quote by Warren Buffet has been circulating the business sector the past week or so, and that is “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”. This suggests that during high-stress, impacted times when most of humanity leans into fear, it is your job as a business owner to learn from others’ mistakes and capitalize on this rare opportunity. Rather than being consumed with fear, be pragmatic and put your company in an economic stronghold by investing wisely, planting seeds that will foster long-term growth, and double down on marketing expenditures. Right now is the ideal time to strategically invest in your business, work twice as hard, and funnel business expenses into growth opportunities such as online marketing, SEO development, e-commerce, and expansion while the overwhelming majority puts a hold on business and development.
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People fail to look just a few weeks or months into the future, to a time when this will be (for the most part) behind us, and business will resume as usual. Who will be flourishing then? Certainly not the companies who let go a third of their employees or halted their marketing efforts. Those who choose to revolutionize their business, develop comprehensive content strategies, or work with marketing agencies and specialists will come out on top.
Enjoying reduced competition, faster results, consumer necessities, increased consumer transparency, and cheaper marketing opportunities, use this time to invest in your business marketing. Expanding your internet marketing, broadening your reach, building brand identity, and reevaluating your existing platforms will all garner significant future success. Content marketing and SEO work are much like planting a seed to grow a garden; it takes time, care and consistency to develop and foster growth. Generating a solid ROI in the digital media marketing arena does take time. Real returns are not actualized overnight. They take a bit of time, yet if you can position yourself and your business intelligently right now, you’ll be exceedingly glad you did so a few months down the road. Those who understand this will undoubtedly set themselves apart from the rest during this unique time in history. Rising from the ashes of such a global recession is not easy, yet companies that are choosing fear and actively firing staff, cutting back on marketing costs and e-commerce development will be left with a skeleton of their original company when this all blows over.
Some financial guidelines to adopt during this crisis:
- Think smart, be pragmatic, don’t panic or think in absolutes
- Investing in internet marketing is investing in future success
- Allow for optimism, things will pick up
- Adopt a long term strategy
- Take advantage of decreased overhead and less competition
- Modernize your business
“The outbreak has already caused an array of changes in shopping behavior and we’re focused on understanding the ones that will come next, how long they’ll last—and whether any will stay with us after the outbreak is behind us,” says Scott McKenzie, leader of Nielsen’s Global Intelligence.
McKenzie raises some powerful questions with his statement. When relative life is back to normal following the outbreak, what kinds of collective purchasing behaviors can we expect to see? What novel business ventures born out of this pandemic dominate the market? In general, will people be more inclined to work from home? Can we expect online food ordering to level off after the virus disappears or will it maintain a steady incline?
Many expect that a newfound reliance on e-commerce and modernized business approaches will be byproducts of the outbreak. People who were resistant to modernize their company with technology, internet marketing, and online ordering will have adopted a more current mentality.