Office Depot OfficeMax BrandVoice: Cue Creativity: Adapt Your Marketing To Meet Customers Precisely Where They Are

With many people quarantining or limiting contact with others, reaching customers inside their homes is key Sponsored by @officedepot

9/16/2020 5:59:00 PM

With many people quarantining or limiting contact with others, reaching customers inside their homes is key Sponsored by officedepot

Even after lockdowns have lifted and social distancing is a thing of the past, it’s likely that the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to affect customer behavior.

GettyFor marketers, the challenge now is to remain agile and continuously adapt to these shifting customer needs and behaviors. It’s an opportunity for leaders toexpand their imaginationsand innovate on the traditional methods of reaching their audiences, all while reevaluating their messaging to be as thoughtful and customer-centric as possible.

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“If your business doesn’t adapt, it dies, and nothing has changed the business landscape more than the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Ben Parr, cofounder and president of Octane AI, a startup developing conversational artificial intelligence technologies for e-commerce.

By following the below key strategies for meeting customers exactly where they are, brands canand court new fans for the long term.Set The Right ToneToday’s customers are increasingly eager to see what a brand stands for beyond just selling products—they want to understand a business’ values and observe how those values come to life across the company.

In the wake of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, this expectation has become nonnegotiable for brands. In fact, 65% of consumers worldwide said that how a brand responds during the crisis will have a large impact on whether or not they continue buying from the company, according to a recent Edelman

study.Setting the right tone across all marketing touchpoints—both in the copy and imagery used, for instance—is crucial. “Audiences are under an enormous amount of personal and cultural stress right now, and extra care needs to be put into how messaging is shaped,” says Jin Kim, founder and CEO of Creative Digital Agency. “Brands don’t want to alienate people at a time when favorability is a critical metric.”

Empathetic messaging that taps into new shared realities like working from home, social distancing and missing loved ones is particularly relatable and effective. While humor may have felt out-of-place at the start of the pandemic, audiences are beginning to show a greater appetite for levity as well, according to Kim, but it’s still important to actively follow online sentiments in case those trends shift again.

Being authentic and transparent about how a brand embodies the values it trumpets is also key. This can come to life in a variety of ways, from showcasing new initiatives to aid healthcare workers, to offering educational content about the virus, contributing to community causes and more. “Actions speak louder than words,” says Parr. “Don’t [just] market that you care—show it.”

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Shift Your Spend To DigitalThe pandemic period has accelerated the consumer shift to a digital-first lifestyle, making theonline marketing funnelvital to successful business outcomes. With many people quarantining or limiting contact with others, reaching customers inside their homes is key. 

“The most successful brands have been the ones best able to leverage digital interactivity to bridge the physical disconnect between brand and audience,” says Kim.Outside of groceries and household supplies, at-home entertainment is the only category where net intent to spend has remained resilient throughout the crisis, according to

from McKinsey. This makes it an optimal moment for brands to shift their ad spend from out-of-home advertising to digital, and experiment with the myriad in-home options that are available to see what performs best.Go beyond just ramping up yoursocial media advertising

to consider more native placement with influencers and celebrities whom customers are following more regularly at the moment. Test advertisements not just on popular video streaming platforms but also on platforms that consolidate podcasts and music. For direct and hyperpersonalized communication, email and SMS messaging can be highly effective in connecting with and retaining consumers.

Reframe Your ProductsWhat constitutes a popular or necessary product has also shifted during the pandemic, with many customers focused more on basic needs and making their at-home experiences more enjoyable or productive. For marketers, this is an opportunity to rethink their value proposition and consider how it might be tweaked to better fit current consumer desires.

This doesn’t have to involve a total overhaul of your product strategy but, rather, a reframing of how those products might be used given the widespread shift in lifestyle. Beauty companies, for example, might shift their messaging from an emphasis on appearance to the benefits of self-care, situating their products as opportunities for moments of peace during a trying time. Activewear brands might refocus their marketing around at-home leisure and working out from home in order to encourage continued spending even though many consumers have moved away from excess purchasing.

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Think of these changes as a natural extension of the brand’s original mission. “You can change the product without changing the brand,” says Kim, who worked with a travel destination client that previously focused on events and shopping to drive visitation to refocus on the need to escape the stresses of busy city living. “We totally transformed the visitor experience [we were promoting] to revolve around safe features like cycling, outdoor adventure and scenic picnics.”

The ODP Corporation (NASDAQ:ODP) is a leading provider of business services, products and digital workplace technology solutions to small, medium and enterprise… Read MoreThe ODP Corporation (NASDAQ:ODP) is a leading provider of business services, products and digital workplace technology solutions to small, medium and enterprise businesses. ODP, operating through its direct and indirect subsidiaries, maintains a fully integrated B2B distribution platform of approximately 1,300 stores, online presence, and thousands of dedicated sales and technology service professionals, all supported by its world-class supply chain facilities and delivery operations. Through its banner brands Office Depot®, OfficeMax®, CompuCom® and Grand&Toy®, as well as others, the company offers its customers the tools and resources they need to focus on their passion of starting, growing and running their business.

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