Should You Still Be Marketing During the COVID-19 Outbreak?
As the global coronavirus crisis unfolds, it’s natural to feel a little unnerved about what this means for you and your business. It’s easy to focus on the short-term implications and lose sight of long-term goals.
However, it's also important to understand that while things may have slowed down considerably in a lot of industries, the world hasn't stopped. Behaviours are changing rapidly as citizens follow government safety guidelines, and the adoption of digital experiences that was slowly emerging has inevitably gained momentum.
A ‘new normal’ is beginning to define itself. With this in mind, it's vital that we work out exactly what that means for each of us and how we can adapt during this transitional phase to make sure our businesses not only survive but succeed in the long run.
Take a moment, don’t panic
In this current mode of survival, budget-cutting might be unavoidable for many businesses. However, it’s important not to rush these decisions and make big cuts across the board. With so much change happening, businesses need to find new ways to cut through the white noise. For this reason, there's never been a more important time to invest in your marketing team.
It may be necessary to place a temporary pause (one to two weeks) on the variables that are easily changeable – search engine advertising, social media ads, video ads etc – while the team makes a thorough assessment of the unfolding situation.
This may cause a short-term hit on revenue, but it protects the business from wasting funds on ads that are potentially ineffective at this time due to a required change in messaging.
We need to start thinking about how we can add value during this strained time. Adobe, for example, is a leading brand that's thriving because it's maintaining its marketing. It's recognised that there's been a widespread change to companies' operations because of employees needing to work from home. So, Adobe pressed forward with the rollout of the Adobe Experience Cloud, which helps to accelerate document productivity and data management.
During the 2008 recession, Xbox not only decided it would let customers watch films and TV series through Netflix for free, but it also lowered the fee for one of its consoles to $199. Alongside this, it launched messages on its website that branded it as a great-value brand with slogans like, "Big fun, bigger value". This seemed to work: sales of its consoles spiked by 53% year on year in February 2009.
Listen, pivot, adapt
As consumption of goods and services begins to shift from the physical to the digital world, you're going to need to get creative on delivering your brand's strategies while mitigating risk.
Consumption trends and changing human behaviours, which should be tracked regularly by your team, will help you decipher how current strategies might need to be modified. It’s not a matter of throwing out work that’s already been established, but pivoting it to reach customers who are now moving in a different direction.
For example, Nike has released their latest slogan – ‘Play Inside, Play for the World’ – a message that allows the company to lean into its core brand identity while still displaying a supportive commitment to its community.
While focusing on building and consolidating brand identity is one of the main responsibilities of a marketing team, this won't be enough in a time of global crisis. This pandemic is going to fast track us into the digital age, and now isn't the time to shift into protection mode.
It's vital to assess and understand evolving consumption patterns and begin to adapt our strategies as people seek more in terms of escapism and entertainment. Investment in marketing, within a rapidly changing environment, will play a crucial role in a business's ability to successfully engage with consumers.
Now's the time to believe in what you’ve built, believe in your brand equity and invest in a team that's going to deliver you innovative marketing ideas that just might guarantee your longevity.