It’s been more than a month now since the coronavirus has turned our lives upside down. From having to practice social distancing and being caged in our homes to continually sanitizing our hands, wearing masks and still seeing loved ones get sick, the coronavirus brought about a monumental, unprecedented change in how we live our lives.

In normal business scenarios, marketers exist to create demand and build brands. If you are a marketer and are feeling out of breath these days, you are not alone. While many conversations are brewing around the importance and impact of marketing during this crisis, experts have not been able to reach a consensus. So, the question for us remains- How do we make ourselves relevant and add value at this time of uncertainty?

While none of us have all the answers, there are four areas we can start working with-

1. The New Normal

Context is a key element to effective marketing. In this current scenario, brands need to understand the local impact of this global pandemic on all stakeholders, especially the customers. While we, as marketers, have always been very cognizant of the importance of context, the stakes are much higher now. 

What’s changed is our customer’s state of mind. In other words, our buyer now inhabits a new reality, which is quite unlike the one they inhabited a couple of months ago. Now is the time to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes, visualize the world around them and ensure that all our communications are tailored to their new reality. It’s time that we reevaluate & refresh our buyer personas to remind ourselves of what’s important to the customer. Projecting the buyer persona on the new reality will not only help us understand the immense pressure our customers are in, but also remind us to practice empathy towards our customers.

2. Conversation, not conversion

At this time, we are all struggling to nail the right tone and message for our marketing communication. But, no matter how agonizingly slow this process might be, we need to keep the dialogue going across all channels.

A global survey of 35,000 consumers by Kantar found that 75% of consumers want to know what different brands are doing, while only 8% of consumers think that brands should stop advertising during pandemic.

According to a recent article by Gartner, authentic and ethical communication from a brand is the need of the day. Trying to take advantage of the current scenario to generate more sales or market share might end up doing irreparable damage to a brand. This is supported by the fact that the Kantar study found that a high percentage of consumers believe that companies should use this time to offer a positive perspective and communicate their brand value- all in a lively and reassuring tone. 

So, it’s time that we audit and update existing campaigns while crafting new communication.

3. Rigorous Reassessment

In times of crisis such as the current pandemic, it is inevitable to experience rapid and drastic changes in market dynamics. Hence, constant and rigorous reassessment of all paid and organic campaigns , creative collaterals, even marketing guidelines becomes imperative. 

A quick look at the current market dynamics shows the following trends in digital marketing- 

  1. Website traffic has dropped significantly in most industries. The obvious exceptions to the rule are Healthcare, Food, Finance and Media.
  2. Conversion rates have followed a similar pattern as organic traffic and have dropped across multiple industries.
  3. With smaller brands putting a pause on their paid ad spends, the competition and cost per click have dropped, making paid ads cheaper.
  4. Owing its effectiveness to the deceased paid ads spends, ROI for paid advertisements has improved across the board.

By reassessing campaigns and restructuring spends we can drive great results at this time.

4. Technologies and Tools

While promoting the brand is critical right now, marketing still needs to drive demand and support sales. Depending on the industry, your goal may fall anywhere between “very challenging” to “downright impossible”. Now is the time to get creative and focus on opportunities that will generate, nurture and accelerate the lead cycle.

This crisis has brought forth the need for digital sales enablement efforts. Client relationship management (CRM), Advertising, Marketing Automation and Analytics tools have gained momentum. Besides being cheaper than their non-digital counterparts, these solutions have provided a golden opportunity to reach a larger audience and forge stronger relationships with current and prospective customers.

So, if you are yet to go digital, this is the time to invest in the right technology based on your industry and needs.

Eye on the Future

It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the here-and-now these days. While most marketers have more than their share of work cut out for them, it’s time we prepare for the future.

Following are some steps we can take-

  1. Reassess and tighten your marketing strategy
  2. Communicate your brand story every chance you get
  3. Develop a post-pandemic content and email marketing strategy
  4. Lay groundwork for deeper customer insights

With budgets shrinking and wallets snapping shut, it’s a challenging time for all of us. Only through strengthening our focus on customer empathy, building a strong brand and supporting the pipeline will we emerge from this crisis in a stronger position. 

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