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The current situation we are all dealing with in the world has had an unprecedented impact on businesses, both new and established, across every industry imaginable. From tourism and travel to retail and even e-commerce, business is down and there is an uncomfortable sense of uncertainty across the world.
There are always going to be unfortunate world events that we have to deal with head-on, but a global pandemic like we are currently experiencing is unchartered waters for most business owners and entrepreneurs.
One of my companies creates direct-to-consumer beauty brands and we launched a new brand amid the global pandemic. Many said that launching a new brand during the pandemic was very risky.
Guess what happened? It took off. It exploded out of the gate and scaled faster than other brands that launched in what many experts would say, were more stable economic times. We made sure to check-off several boxes — ones that I knew would lead to the success we experienced.
This formula doesn’t only apply to e-commerce brands. It actually applies to any new business. While most are playing it safe and laying low, there is a huge opportunity to introduce new products or services to the market.
Here are a few things to consider if you decide to take the leap:
1. Identify a Need, Want, or Desire with High Demand
The brand we launched was an at-home kit that allows consumers to get salon-quality nails at home. One of the most complained about topics across social media was nails — or lack of options since most salons were ordered to close.
As it became clear that salons wouldn’t be opening for some time, we decided to launch a home-kit. There was a clear need, want, and desire. All you had to do was look on social media and it was very obvious that if we brought a solution to the market, we would have willing and able buyers.
The demand was there and the price-point was more affordable than the salon. We created a win-win situation for the consumer. They were able to do their nails and save money. There are always going to be needs and wants during unforeseen times. Identify them and you will face opportunity directly in the face.
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
2. Find a Way to Place Your Offer Directly in Front of Your Target Audience
There is one aspect of the global pandemic that gave many businesses a major advantage. They could easily market to their ideal customer through online marketing.
From email marketing to paid social media and influencer marketing — consumers were at home and a large percentage of them were on their computer or had their mobile device glued to their hands.
With our brand, we knew that we could run highly targeted social media campaigns and place our offer right in front of those that were craving a solution for their nail problem. The same logical thinking was utilized by many businesses.
Let’s take the restaurant industry for example. Many were forced to stop serving and sitting guests, so they had to convert to take-out and delivery only. Many that didn’t focus on this prior immediately turned on social media ads and pushed local consumers to download their own app or encouraged them to order via platforms like Uber Eats and Postmates.
3. Show Empathy in Your Marketing Message
In our situation, we more than likely could have just run straight ads with the message of, “Get your nails done” and received some interest. But we decided to focus on showing empathy while also presenting the consumer with a solution.
The pandemic impacted people differently — from losing loved ones to the virus to being laid off — it required a softer message for that initial touch-point. I am constantly analyzing D2C marketing and messaging and some of the most successful campaigns I have seen during this crisis displayed some level of empathy in the message.
I feel that a lot of brands assumed that consumers would simply stop spending money during the pandemic, which wasn’t the case at all. Some brands did slow down advertising, which created another opportunity — lower ad costs and media buys.
It honestly couldn’t be easier. A simple approach along the lines of, “Hey, we know times are crazy and there is a worldwide sense of uncertainty, and we also know you miss the little things like getting your nails done…”
Brands, especially new ones, were presented with an opportunity to make a strong connection with consumers. Life was slowed down a bit. People weren’t in such a rush because they literally had nowhere to go.
This was an opportunity to let them know you care and establish that relationship. This actually relates directly to my final point below.
“There is only one boss. The customer―and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
4. Operate and Build with Post-Tragedy Scale in Mind
I’ve seen a lot of brands surface during the pandemic, and I am willing to bet when I check on them a couple of months down the line they will be long gone. Why? Because they are only focused on the “now” and have zero vision for the future.
This is the wrong way to approach launching a new opportunity — pandemic or not. One of the reasons I stressed building a strong initial relationship with the consumer is because of long-term scale and growth.
If you connect with a consumer during a difficult time and build a meaningful relationship by providing them with a product or service that helps them — solving a problem or taking their mind off the current situation — they are going to be very brand-loyal moving forward.
With our brand, we are solving a problem caused by the pandemic and shutdown, but we are also providing convenience and a product that has the potential to thrive in a “normal” world. Someone that is introduced to the brand during these times and has a pleasant experience is likely to be a repeat customer.
The brands that are only focused on making a quick buck will be scrambling when things settle down and consumers return to their normal activities and routines. Those that had post-pandemic scale in mind will continue to grow and thrive in the future.