May 12, 2020 I The Marketing Guru I by Tracy Hoeft

The New Normal

The impact of Covid-19 is unprecedented and has been tragic beyond words. In many ways, it seems trite to talk about business and marketing in such times, but as business owners and managers, we must. We have responsibilities to our families, our employees and our co-workers to fulfill.

History tells us that when humanity endures a large shock, no matter the cause, lasting changes in our habits and psyche are certain. In this case, you need to start to adjust to how this impact will change the way your customers will want to do business.

After a crisis like this there is a real possibility that consumers will look to simplify life.

During the shelter-in-place period, a far greater number of consumers likely embraced services like home delivery or order-online-and-pickup-at-store offerings. Even more people joined Amazon Prime and started to rely more heavily on Amazon as their go-to retailer. For musicians who wanted to make music during the unexpected downtime, they had to buy online since their local stores were often forced to temporarily close. These changes in how people shop will change customers’ expectations and preferences going forward. How will you adapt?

Step Up Your E-Commerce Game

For over a decade, columns in these pages have stated how important it is for all retailers to have an e-commerce presence. Many have taken up that call and developed online shopping as a key revenue source. Many more have not. It’s not easy, it does take some focus and investment and it is not always a natural extension of your core business. But please prioritize this now. You do not need to build a high-end e-commerce site of your own, but start to drive sales to marketplaces like Reverb, Sweetwater, Amazon and eBay. The secret is finding the right product that fits your skills.

A New Voice

We can predict with confidence that this crisis will change what our customers will want to hear from us. As I write this, it’s too early in this cycle to define the new voice, but I can tell you it’s coming. After a crisis like this, there is a real possibility that consumers will look to simplify life. Perhaps we will see more nostalgic trends gain traction.

I implore you to pay attention and make sure that you are not being tone-deaf. Your customers might not want a typical sales-pitch-sounding message in a post-pandemic world. You will likely want to tone down your messaging in that way and focus more on how the products that you offer can make your customers’ lives better. We all know playing music can be therapeutic, and we’re seeing positive stories of music helping during this difficult time on social media and in the news. Make sure that your voice in all that you put out aligns with your customers today — not what they wanted to hear from you in 2019.

Changing Product Trends

We should also be watching for changes in which product categories interest consumers most. People who have spent weeks at home might want to add an instrument that can improve their stay-at-home experience. This could usher in a renaissance for acoustic guitar, ukulele and piano.

With more people working from home, we can expect an increase in people looking for tools to support those activities — perhaps microphones and speakers to improve how they sound on their next Skype or Zoom call. Look for such changes in how people live and make sure you’re letting your customers know that you can help them.

It’s hard to overstate the profound impact this pandemic is likely to have on all of our lives, our habits and how we do business. We will all need to adapt, and that is especially true in business. I encourage you to be ready to evolve, and with that, you will be ready to succeed. MI

Tracy Hoeft is the president of Amplify 11, a marketing firm specializing in the musical instrument industry.

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