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November 10, 2021

Marketing Strategy for a Post-Pandemic World

Post By:
Terry Pappy
Owner + Chief Creative Strategist
Guest Contributor:
Part 1 of a 4-Part Series

If you are marketing your business the same way you were before the pandemic, your business is at risk. You’ll agree the world has changed and we have all been impacted in many different ways, good and bad. In this article, I will cover the following:

  • How COVID has impacted businesses since March 2020
  • How to assess specific business impacts brought on by the pandemic
  • How to revitalize your marketing in a post-pandemic world

The pandemic changed everything.

Throughout 2020, I paid particular attention to how the pandemic was impacting people as well as businesses, and how they marketed their products and services. These impacts included dramatic changes in everything from DE&I-influenced advertising, imagery and messaging to sensitivities around isolation, work-from-home, home-schooling, and the politics surrounding the health impact of COVID-19 on the world population.

Closer to home, I saw even greater impacts among a niche I had served since 2016: the professional keynote speaking industry. My speaker clients and colleagues faced two business-altering pandemic impacts. The first was that they all lost their venues for keynote speeches and presentations as no one was meeting or traveling for the bulk of 2020 and into 2021. Booked meetings and travel were all canceled. The second was that many pivoted to deliver their content and consulting virtually, which overwhelmed their schedules and workloads. The pivot also made them re-evaluate how they marketed and sold their services. As a result, many had to hire help and floundered marketing their virtual products. Others decided to retire from speaking entirely. And still others went month after month with no income wondering when audiences would reconvene. It was and still is challenging for many of my clients and colleagues who rely on speaking as a marketing tool and revenue source.

I also paid attention to how business owners’ preferences changed in how they did business, particularly how they shopped and bought services to help them in their businesses. People were making different choices and weighing against different factors than they had before. They were also looking at how they delivered their products and services to create more ease, efficiency and simplicity.

Business was demanding humanity, and I listened.

Late in 2020, I created a four-part video series (which I will share in this and upcoming articles on this topic) based on my observations and intuitive knowledge that marketing needed to change. 

Before I dive into the first step on revitalizing your marketing, take a moment to assess how you have changed (or not changed) your business. Consider or journal these prompts. “Since the pandemic,

  • What was the most significant change you have made in your business?”
  • What are some of the changes you’ve noticed your clients and audience have gone through?”
  • How has your personal health and wellness, relationships, finances and home life changed?”
  • How has your business strategy, tactics or timeline changed?” 
  • How do you view your business and its future now?”
  • What measures are you taking to reduce exposure to future economic downturns?”

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For me, it was about stepping into being more authentic, honest, forthright and inspiring through sharing my own personal journey. I also consolidated my marketing and content, changed how I provided value, brought everything into one website and took a break from hosting the Simplify & Multiply podcast after three years and 126 episodes. I was making decisions about my business based on what made me feel good and the way I wanted to run my business. I was also responding to what I felt was truly missing in the marketplace, and what I sensed people were longing for.

It’s paying off in creativity, revenue and overall happiness with my business. 

I’ve been in business since 2006, and I can’t think of a better way to earn a living as a creative solopreneur. I love working with other business owners to help them understand the value of being real, showing up powerfully and being 1000% authentic in how they communicate and serve.

You can too. You can use the pandemic, the times we face now, as a way to climb out of the pit of drudgery business may have become. Look at your business in a new way. View and care for your clients and audience in a more impactful way that makes them stick with you through thick and thin. Gain the clarity you need to find your place in the business world doing work you love at the pace and style you envision. Trust your gut, trust what you’re being led to deliver, and serve with kindness.

The how-to:

Let’s get practical and build a plan of action to revitalize your marketing in a post-pandemic world. 

Step #1: Create a new strategy for marketing and sales.

Reclassify Your Products and Services

In light of the pandemic, do your products and services still address the needs of your target audience? If their needs have changed, what are you doing to meet those new needs? Are they facing cash flow challenges? Are they having staffing problems? Are they pivoting their products and services to reduce risk of exposure? 

For example, my keynote speaker colleagues and clients had to pivot their offerings and create new virtual experiences to remain relevant and serve an audience that went from a convention hall crowd to a consumer-via-computer individual at home. Many of these professionals have increased their revenue streams by creatively reengineering their topic into courses, masterminds, video training programs and executive coaching delivered solely online. It has tremendously reduced travel expenses and lost productivity hours because they were on the road so much.

Here are a few ways to discover how your clients and target audience now want to use your products and/or services:

  • Ask them! Reach out to your current clients and have conversations with them about what they need, how the pandemic has changed their business, their attitude and their strategy. Look for patterns, be open for inspiration and reassure them that you’re there to help even if it’s just to listen.
  • Survey your list/audience and find out how they have changed or adjusted their business in the same way.
  • Pay attention to the emotions they are feeling as a result of their struggles and desires. Write down the words they use to describe how they feel.

Adjust Your Messaging and Marketing Tactics

After you’ve done adequate research, had conversations with existing clients, and taken copious notes, review everything carefully to find the patterns and gaps. For example, one of my clients is an instructional designer consultant and customer service expert. She’s worked in hospitality, IT and related industries and is also a member of the National Speakers Association. We created a product line for her to help speakers take their keynote presentations and translate them into engaging online courses and programs, which was something they were doing as part of their pivot. They knew their keynote topic well, but struggled developing their topic into a new product they could deliver virtually.

Here are a few ways to grab from your research and craft new messaging and even new or revitalized products and services:

  • Brainstorm ideas for products or services that can address a new need your clients and/or audience is facing.
  • Look at your current messaging and see how you can update headlines, posts, articles, advertising, etc. to reflect the current pain people are experiencing so that readers feel heard and take action.
  • Assess your messaging and marketing to find ways to be more authentic, vulnerable and real so you can build trust faster.

A powerful way to make a deeper connection with your audience is to share your own experiences of how the pandemic has affected you as well as what decisions you’re making about how you show up in your business and what you are now committed to doing through your business.

Design It for the Long-Term

As you go through this research and brainstorming process, look for gaps that may not have existed before that your audience and clients are dealing with today. Give oxygen to what no one is talking about. Be courageous in taking a stand for what you now see possible. Notice what competitors may be attempting to do (or not do) and find where you can have a voice that’s clearer and more resonant.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Triage your clients and audience—get a clear picture of their world and what they’re dealing with and brainstorm how you can help, even if it’s holding space for them to express themselves.
  • This may seem counterintuitive and anti-capitalistic, but think of ways you can serve your audience’s immediate needs that do NOT create revenue for your business. Sometimes we get caught up in “How can I make money with this?” and it pollutes any new ideas. If you come up with something that is really needed and resonates with your audience, monetization will show up as well. 
  • Simplify it! Boil it down to its most basic components and reduce the complexity of what you’re creating. Remember that it’s not crucial that you spend a lot of time and money creating a new product or service—it’s about being there for your clients and audience and meeting them where they’re at right now. Be a friend. Be a resource. Be a confidante. The effort you put forward now will pay off in the future.

Because we’re still in the pandemic and have no clear idea of what or if normalcy will ever return, we have to be flexible and roll with what is today’s reality. As you’re designing and revamping how you market and sell what you do in your business, it’s important to address the issues your audience and clients are facing right now, not what you think they’ll be facing post-pandemic, unless it’s specific and clear to you now. Help your people through the tough times they’re facing right now, give them hope and let them know you’re there to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they find their way through it.

Watch the video from my four-part Revitalize Strategy series for more insight into this first step. 

Next month, join me here, on The Daily Drip, where I’ll cover the second step in the Revitalize Strategy that addresses implementation. Remember that what you’re doing here is not just a marketing tactic—it’s a way for you to reassess who you are serving, what they need most, and how your business will address it. You can still provide the same solutions through your products and services just as you did before, however, the way you market them will evolve to reflect the world we live in today.