The world is so different than it was just a couple months ago. We’ve all had to make major adjustments to our lives. The nice woman who runs my favorite little Asian restaurant has shut her doors for two weeks hoping things may be better then. The high school baseball team my dad coaches has had their season entirely wiped away. I have been unable to get a haircut (poor, poor pitiful me) and now have a Leonardo DiCaprio thing going on (and I mean The Revenant Leo, not the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Leo.)
Marketing hasn’t been immune to these adjustments either. The tourism industry presently has no one to market to; while the guy at my local gyro place told me his normal 35-minute commute has turned into less than 15 minutes, which doesn’t bode well for billboards or bus wraps and other forms of outdoor advertising.
Yes, COVID-19 has limited the channels with which we’re able to connect to the public. But there is good news for marketers in that a significant shift like this provides new conditions, new consumer needs and new opportunities for those bold enough to innovate within these spaces.
Take the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With a stay-at-home order instituted for Missouri and Google’s restaurant hours listings in complete turmoil, the Post-Dispatch has been compiling and maintaining a list of all the St. Louis restaurants who are still open and participating in curb-side pickup, delivery or drive-thru. As a person who lives alone, is tired of frozen and canned food and is a little uneasy about going back to a potentially packed grocery store, this is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for right now. They’re meeting a need I didn’t have until just a few weeks ago.
Streaming services were already taken chunks of audiences from movie theaters and traditional television before the coronavirus, but they’re becoming absolutely essential during it.
Tiger King has pretty much become the talk of the nation and while some services are offering longer free trials to give people some relief. HBO is so confident about its offering that it the network has gone the extra mile and just made a selection of some of their best shows and movies completely free, — no strings attached — for the entire month of April. SiriusXM radio did the same. Maybe I’ll finish all 86 episodes of The Sopranos in a 30-day span or listen to every Howard Stern interview with Lady Gaga, Bill Murray and everyone in between? I’m not sure, but I’m giving it a shot. I’ve never been an HBO Go or HBO Now subscriber but I’ve really been enjoying the experience. So even if I don’t make it, I could see myself paying for the service in the future.
While it wasn’t made in reaction to COVID-19, Nintendo is reaping the benefits of people spending more time inside with their Ring Fit Adventure game. With gyms closed, this in-house fitness game has become the preferred way to exercise during quarantine. It’s so popular, no one can seem to keep it on shelves. The normally $80 package is being sold Amazon resellers for $320 a pop.
Listen, the world’s in a tough spot right now and it’s completely understandable to want to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. It’s the safe play and no one can blame you for it. But if you take a look at your product or service or strategy and can think of a way to revise it to work in today’s environment, it could mean the difference between surviving and thriving. And if you need some help in thinking of those revisions? Well, I might know a place that is pretty good at stretching boundaries.