The 5Ps of Marketing during COVID-19

In the current climate of the global health crisis, retailers have been amongst the hardest hit. Managing four different neighbourhood centres with more than 70% mum and dad retailers, it has admittingly been one of the most challenging months of my professional career. Still, like many challenges, there are always lessons to learn, and once the panic and fear pass, these challenges quickly become opportunities. Here are the 5 Ps of Marketing that have guided me during COVID-19:

Be AGILE – Put planned promotions on hold

In the last month, we have seen our retailers – some who have been doing the same thing for over 20 years, rethink their menus, their processes and adapt to third-party delivery apps.

Like everyone else, our marketing plans have suddenly needed to change, and our retail marketing focus has moved almost entirely to digital. We have created fresh new content for our retailers, and ensured their brands stay strong during these times, by being that connection between them and their customers.

This is a perfect time to launch a fresh new centre newsletter or perhaps a new digital video series – We’re looking at creating DIY and recipe videos that will feature our very own retailers.

You can’t put a price on authentic relationships

As retailers enter uncharted territories, their levels of fear and anxiety increase. You need to take the time to LISTEN to them. Listen to their challenges, talk through solutions together and offer advice, let them know that they aren’t alone, now more than ever it’s essential to follow through on all your action items and check in on them as often as you can. Remember to be empathetic, honest and transparent. Effective communication will be key to avoid misunderstandings and promote mutual respect.

Be prepared to place different hats on your head

Help in any way you can. Team members have had to play different roles. Our marketing team has assisted with traffic control and social distancing measures. We have worked alongside our property managers, equipped ourselves with the right information to be able to advise and inform our retailers with relevant and up to date information. Putting on different hats has pushed us out of our comfort zones, has helped us appreciate other team members roles, allowed us to communicate more effectively and make decisions a lot quicker as a team.

Check-in on your people

It’s more important than ever to be there for your community in the most helpful ways. Everyone is being bombarded with COVID-19 news, and although it is important to keep them informed with these updates, it’s also essential to proactively communicate useful information about retailers and their products and services. Also share relevant in-home recommendations, such as tips on home-schooling, mental health tips, or perhaps host live events, it’s all about creating that community hub online.

Reach out to your local community groups, local schools, local sporting clubs – the ones that have always supported you. A simple phone call to check in and see if there is anything you can do to assist. We have started community initiatives where we have purchased food from our retailers and have shared these with local community groups. We reached out to our local school teachers and offered them a free coffee from our cafés and provided lunch that was prepared by our retailers. This was just a simple gesture to remind our community that we are all in this together and help lift their spirits during these challenging times. People will always remember how you made them feel.

Your success in the future will be a product of the work you put in now

It’s important to be mindful that while we normalise these changing conditions and action the immediate, it is equally important to also look to the future. Spend some time investing in yourself, listen to how your customer’s behaviours are changing, plan for future initiatives and campaigns so that when we get to the other side, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.