In order to remain relevant today, and for years to come, it is imperative that brands understand and are able to meet the changing needs of consumers.
Especially during challenging and unprecedented times.
Across the world today, global economies are teetering, businesses are closing, millions are unemployed, healthcare systems are overwhelmed, and daily life as we have always known it has been indefinitely altered.
With the upheaval of normalcy in almost every aspect of our lives – work, travel, social activities, etc., this pandemic has had a noticeable impact on how, why, and what people are buying.
In our Brand Lab Series™ podcast conversation with Rita Patel, Vice President of Product Marketing at Showpad, she said,
“All businesses, regardless of size or industry, have been impacted by this crisis.
Moving forward, businesses will need to focus on the value they provide and how they can pivot to continue to support their customers.”
According to Globalwebindex, typical buying behaviors are on hold, old certainties are being shattered, and most importantly – many are fearful about their future prospects.
Before the turn of the decade, research pointed to 2020 as the year when customer experience would become the top priority for all brands.
A Walker study found that in 2020, customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, and 62% of companies would invest to meet the changing needs of consumers. Additionally, according to a Gartner survey, over two-thirds of companies now compete on customer experience alone.
Then coronavirus came along and customer experience became an even higher priority.
According to a McKinsey report,
“Suddenly, examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want has given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.”
Recent, drastic changes in individual habits, needs, and priorities have caused consumers to reexamine the value they derive from brands. Brands must now step up and respond in this time of crisis in order to survive. And consumers are paying attention.
So, how can your company appeal to different consumers in personalized ways that add irreplaceable value in a time of crisis?
The answer: Master your buyer personas.
Not only understanding, but mastering how to speak to buyer personas allows brands to refine their point of differentiation, remain relevant, increase effectiveness, create meaningful content to inform a strong marketing and media strategy, and improve customer retention and satisfaction.
Now more than ever, businesses must cut through the noise to deliver targeted value to their current and prospective buyers.
In an interview with Merrick Pet Care’s VP of Marketing, Barbara Liss said,
“All brands are fighting for an individual’s time, whether you’re competing for share of wallet, share of mind, or share of anything. Because of coronavirus, our team is adapting to shifting consumer dynamics and sentiments.”
Understanding your buyer personas is not a new tactic. It has always been an advantage for brands to confidently know why and how consumers make decisions in order to provide value to current customers and win new business. However, current market conditions are new and across industries, businesses must learn and quickly address their personas’ evolving needs, priorities, fears, and opportunities.
So, how do you get started?
As explained in our Marketing Minute video on buyer personas, the best way to identify and understand your buyer personas is by speaking to your existing customers. Don’t ask questions about your products or services. Instead, ask questions about the people who use them. What does success look like for them? What gets in the way of their success? What tools do they use? What new pain points have developed for them in recent months?
Make it about them and not about you.
Even if you have gone through this exercise with customers in the past, too much has changed in recent months for you to not revisit this process.
Once defined, you can then work on communicating directly with your buyer personas, both current and prospective, and speaking their language on your social media pages, in your case studies, and across your website.
It is now more important than ever that you are able to inform and educate these personas instead of interrupting and selling to them.
If your business is struggling due to the effects of coronavirus, understanding your customers’ new pain points may be the exact information you need in order to make necessary shifts in your product and/or service offerings.
A recent example of this shift is the accounting firm, Pasquesi Partners, which saw an unmet need for small businesses to navigate the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program. Within one week, Pasquesi Partners shifted its services to help current and future customers with this emerging pain point.
In our Brand Lab Series™ podcast conversation with Rob Pasquesi, President and CEO of Pasquesi Partners, he said,
“Businesses are pivoting in the face of change and still providing a value-add to their customers and prospects. And when things turn around, which they eventually will, those customers and prospects will never forget that.”
It is fair to say that in a customer-experience driven world, marketers can only do so much. However, for your business to survive this crisis, it must remain brand relevant. This requires marketers to understand their evolving personas and communicate value that meets customers’ needs and anxieties. Hyper-personalization is the future of customer experience and customer experience is the key to your brand’s survival.