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Marketing is changing post pandemic – Here’s how to stay ahead

By Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, Vice President Marketing EMEA, Zendesk

Last updated September 10, 2020

Marketing rules as we know it, are being re-written. The global Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the full marketing mix to a digital and audio outreach, with concept to creation of ideas and delivery, tighter than ever. But innovation shouldn’t suffer, it should continue to thrive as new, unused channels, taking a fresher approach, become in demand. Taking a different approach and infusing it with creativity will still generate results and in some cases, even more.

Here are five ways that marketing can remain relevant in the current climate.

Don’t play it safe

The pandemic, and indeed the aftermath, are ripe for risk taking and new approaches. Marketers need to be willing to experiment – with platforms, formats and promotional messaging – in order to push the boundaries and find an approach that works for their target audience. Every idea that doesn’t go well can be a learning experience to refine, regroup and improve next time. Most important thing is to be open to failure, as the best ideas are born in these environments.

At Zendesk, we experimented with a short, TV news-style concept called Zendesk Morning Show. Spanning 14 episodes, the show was available twice weekly. It was a big move away from traditional long-form webinars. No death by PowerPoint, no hour-long panel sessions. We wanted to adapt to the changing environment with short 2-5 minute segments within each 15-20 minute episode.

Was each episode of Zendesk Morning perfect? No. But it was creative and delivered quickly. The flaws, imperfections and realness, were what made it more authentic and relatable to our customers, partners and community.

Let people in

One trend to come out of the pandemic is that gated content is falling out of favour. People generally don’t want to register and give out their personal details just to view some quality content. There are many other places where they can view something similar without having to jump through hoops.

Consumers want to get a feel for your branded content and whether it’s going to work for them, which requires marketers to shift their mindset away from one of ‘sell’ to one that focuses more on the customer need at this time. Consumers need to help, share, learn and educate. To assist them, content needs to be accessible and available, on-demand, in digestible, bitesize formats. It’s not about straying away from all gated content, it’s being more selective, and realising all consumable content does not have to be gated.

Inform, but don’t overdo it

Many brands are flooding the marketplace with too much information. And instead of feeling informed, consumers feel bombarded. Where do they even start when it comes to taking it all in? And when customers feel overwhelmed in this way, they opt out and switch off, meaning you may have lost touch with them forever.

By grouping your communications by theme, instead of sending out each piece of content separately, you can wrap everything up into one digestible package containing relevant articles, videos, case studies and virtual panels for each subject. Content can also be repackaged and used in different ways later for those who missed it the first time round and it gives you licence to be more innovative with existing marketing activities, reimagining them in new formats.It also allows for a longer shelf life of the content.

Be context aware

As marketers, we have always known about the importance of adapting messages to market conditions, trends or changes. The challenge remains now, but in unprecedented times we can’t rely on the parameters we’ve always used. Basing campaign activities around the size of an event space is irrelevant when face-to-face events aren’t taking place. But there are ways of using new lenses to view your current situation and telling interesting stories, nonetheless.

For example, I’ve loved seeing the fitness industry go digital – bringing virtual gym, yoga, pilates and workout sessions to life – keeping consumers engaged even when activities can’t happen in-person and the new format has remained popular even as gyms have started to reopen.

The future is now

We’re aware that the pandemic has brought about changes to marketing, but the big question is: will these changes be permanent? The shift to online activities was always there, it was just a matter of timings. Yes, offline activities will still happen but there’s a very real chance that big scale, big budget events become much less of a regular occurrence in years to come as we start to see an integration of the online and offline worlds even more.

The future will require more imaginative campaigns that rely both on digital delivery and personalisation. Making it relevant to the audience and growing demand for shorter on-demand content that fits into their working day – wherever they are. While it’s definitely not one size fits all, marketers everywhere will need to reassess their long-term plans, tailoring them to our new reality, but most importantly to our ever-evolving audiences.