Well I certainly failed to predict this when I was forecasting trends for this year, but I can take some comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected many of us in many different ways. My thoughts go out to those seriously affected by this terrible virus and I hope you all get through these difficult times with as much strength and stability as you can.
One thing we in marketing can all learn from this is that flexibility is key. Let’s just take a quick look at some of the affects this corona virus has had on the marketing industry.
According to Amperity COVID-19 Retail Monitor overall retail demand in North America is down 90%.
There is a sharp increase in content and even advertising pulling in topical messages – in this case the virus. These are now being met with skepticism and in some cases much stronger negative feeling. Although those making genuine positive steps are seeing strong brand approval.
Most industries are seeing a sharp decline in organic traffic.
The Affiliate channel is suffering with drops of 20-90% dependent on the product.
Around 75% of brands have reduced spend and over 90% are no longer continuing with their original marketing plans.
In my book Digital Marketing Strategy I discuss the real time planning model and the flexibility inherent in that system. For those that have adopted this approach the ability to pivot will have been significantly easier.
This pandemic is likely to be the only one of its kind in our lifetimes but smaller scale crises will occur and I personally feel that environmental issues are likely to themselves bring some unprecedented issues later this century. Staying flexible is therefore essential.
So what can you do as a Marketer to retain your growth and brand strength during this time?
Look to the channels that are likely to continue to deliver with the new lifestyles we have all had to adopt. Advertising on digital channels and platforms that are seeing an uplift and in home channels are likely to perform well. Paid search has retained some strengths for example.
Do not stop
You may need to stop certain channels that simply will not work. Consider every lead generation channel and whether it can continue to perform. However some channels must continue. Email and SEO for example are likely to continue at strength and both have long tails to their performance so need to be maintained.
Protect your brand
Look to the customer segments that are likely to be less financially affected – not only because they can still afford to purchase but because it may be insensitive to approach those in difficult financial situations at this time. Brand damage is easy at times like this. But so is brand success. Ensure you switch on your EQ when putting out messages to support and help people. Don’t simply and cynically jump on the COVID-19 bandwagon – make sure you are adding value.
Don’t let the service slip
With many people being out on furlough schemes, unpaid leave, lay off or made redundant, it is easy to look at cost cutting at the cost of service delivery. If demand is down then it does of course make sense to consider staffing options but do not over cut. If your service suffers at such a difficult time for your customers you may end up with costs and brand damage from which you may never recover.
Now is a great time to focus on improvements, changes, ideas. Use quieter times to improve everything you do. Don’t let this opportunity slip you by – it won’t come again. Improve everything from your data cleanliness to your bidding strategy. If now is not quiet for your business then use this time to look for new product angles, propositions, pricing models. Never stop innovating.
Use your social channels. Talk. Listen. Help. Support. Do what you can to keep in touch with your customers and support them. We all need to support those that need it. Find a way to do that however you can.
Keep those plans flexible for any future crises and let me know if you’d like any help with your strategy through this.
Best of luck to you and stay safe.