Wow. What a time to be a marketer. Like most, you're likely finding that marketing in a Pandemic is like trying hit a piñata while blindfolded at your niece’s second bday party. Your customers needs are changing and they are more demanding, which means your audience are looking to your brand as a source of comfort and consistency. However, as isolation regulations come and go, emotions run high and tension continually mounts, its hard to know what the best thing to say is. One solution is to look at your buyer personas. If you've done it right, buyer personas represent groups of consumers with similar needs, wants, expectations, motivations and painpoints. And while major social changes, like a Pandemic, don't happen on the regs, when it does happen, buyer personas are a great tool for understanding the diverse concerns of your customer base and help you create courses of action.
Below, I've outlined three questions you should be asking and answering yourself in order to leverage your existing personas and make the right marketing moves that serves your audience:
1. What are my personas’ situations and concerns right now?
Regardless of a pandemic, Personas’ needs are always changing like the plot of Riverdale. Why? Because life happens. So when some phenomenon outside of your control occurs and inevitably shifts your customers needs and wants, the first thing you need to ask yourself is "What are my Personas' situations and concerns right now?”. In other words, consider the potential new needs, wants, expectations, motivations and painpoints of your persona groups, review which of these facets remain the same and which have shifted in priority.
For example, say you are a Bank operating amid this crisis and, for the purpose of ease, your consumer base fits into three personas; Rich Regina (affluent customers), Blue-collar Bill (mid-lower income earners) and Organisational Olivia (businesses). For Rich Regina, she is concerned about the impact the pandemic is having on her retirement savings and maximising the flexibility of her cash. On the other hand, because his work hours have been slashed, Blue-Collar Bill worries about making ends meet and covering his bills. As for Olivia, because she is a business owner, she is focused on finding ways to ensure her organisation stays essential (and staffed) and keep her business running with as much agility as she legally can.
A good way to gain real time insight into your persona’s new needs is through social listening, which is where you track and analyse the conversations your customers are having online about your brand and your wider industry. Additionally, take time to seek out individual customers and ask them personally what they want and need right now and, moreover, how your brand can help.
2. What actions can I put in place to satisfy my persona's needs and wants?
Once you understand the diverse needs of all your persona groups, you can begin to consider the actions and information your organisation can provide to satisfy those needs. For instance, as Covid-19 regulations and lockdowns have made people more frugal with their spending, you could consider removing or lowering barriers to buying. This could come in the form of offers like free trials, reminders that consumers can cancel a service at any time or even give customers an Afterpay option when purchasing a product. For instance, many Aussie banks are deferring loan repayments for six months to assist small businesses who’ve been hit hard because of the ol’ Rona.
Another way you can ease your consumers' buyers journey is by shifting your services online, like Australian makeup retailer, MECCA. MECCA recognised that one of their selling points as a brand is their signature face-to-face consultations, which was a key part of their customer's buyers journey. However, the whole Corona Pandemic saw Mecca closing their bricks and mortar stores, which meant these personal consultations couldn't be conducted. To address this customer painpoint, Mecca launched a new "Virtual Service", were customers can sign up for a time slot and have a phone-call consultation in the comfort of their own home.
3. How do I communicate my new business operations with my personas?
Once you have your plan ready to rock and roll, next thing to deliberate is how you are going to communicate these actions to your persona groups. Your messages have to meet your audience where they are, which may be in new places than before. One of the effects of Corona and Home Quarantining Regulations is that online activity has increased tenfold. Consequently, people are now preferring to find information and communicate through digital channels, like social media platforms, email, live chats and webinars. This means you should be shifting your time and energy to these online platforms that are garnering more of your audience’s attention.
Once you’ve identified the different channels your personas are prioritising, its time to create the message. No matter what information you share with your consumers, whether that be new opening hours, new contact info or any changes you've made in response to changing times, it is essential that you communicate with a rhetoric full of empathy. Remind your customers that you are still here to serve them, even when the goings are getting tough. Moreover, use these messages as opportunities to communicate to your people how you are helping your employees and the wider community. Its essential that you show unity with your audience and you have their best interest in mind.
Whether your in the midst of a Pandemic, or some other grandiose socioeconomic-altering event, by asking these three questions with your personas in mind, you can identify the full range of needs your customers have and delegate the information and support you can provide to meet these expectations. By doing this, you are effectively shifting your communication from just words that express concern to actions and messaging that delivers solutions to your customers in need.