March 2020 COVID-19 Marketing Pulse: The New Marketing Landscape
COVID-19 has caused dramatic and far-reaching changes to people’s lives in every part of the world. Needless to say, it is not business-as-usual, and especially not for marketing. During this crisis, companies need to review everything about their marketing strategy and tactics to ensure that they are communicating, targeting, and spending appropriately. When reviewing and updating your marketing motion, there are 5 new realities to account for:
- An Ongoing Pandemic: The high cost of being “tone deaf” makes this point worth emphasizing. Marketers must be aware and lead with empathy. All existing and future messaging and campaigns must be reviewed for appropriateness against the realities of this unfolding pandemic. This includes messaging on your website’s homepage, mobile app, digital ads, emails (including nurture streams), sales cadences, chatbots, and social media.
- Social Distancing: Until the crisis abates, there are no more in-person interactions.This means no tradeshows, no local networking events, and no exclusive VIP box-seat experiences. Additionally, with travel restrictions and a push for everyone to stay home, out-of-home advertising efficacy is also impacted. In a world of social distancing, companies need to first look to digital and virtual experiences and tactics to maintain and build human connections. While we've been hearing about record attendance at recent webinars and virtual events, this will change rapidly as webinar fatigue sets in. It has never been more important for marketers to stay creative and look for innovative approaches to create engaging virtual experiences.
- A Remote Workforce: Prospects are no longer sitting in offices which means we all need to become experts at Remote Workforce Marketing. Sending a box of doughnuts to be shared among colleagues or an unexpected package to delight and spur action are no longer viable tactics. Nor is relying solely on IP addresses for account-based ad targeting or website personalization. That said, direct mail isn't a complete lost cause. Companies are seeing success using virtual gifts or charitable donations and direct mail vendors either have, or are introducing, address verifications into their flows. Additionally, this melding of business and personal lives opens-up opportunities in more B2C tactics like over-the-top/connected TV advertising (e.g., YouTube TV, Hulu), online video pre-roll & mid-roll (e.g., traditional YouTube, Twitch), and podcasts.
- Financial Uncertainty: Many companies will struggle financially, especially in hard-hit geographies and industries. Even those that are less impacted, the financial uncertainty will cause a tightening of budgets. This means the buying process will take longer, the need for clear ROI will be greater, and the likelihood that existing customers will churn is higher. Effective segmentation and targeting have never been more important. Marketers need to identify and target segments that are the most likely to buy, eliminate those segments (and spending) hard hit by this crisis (e.g., Travel and Hospitality), crystalize and communicate value and ROI, minimize objections (perhaps with a hassle-free trial period), build relationships for the long-term, and focus on retaining existing customers. Account based tactics can be more valuable now to drive efficiency and effectiveness in demand gen. Additionally, marketers need to be prudent regarding spend, provide a proactive list of targeted savings, and be mindful of their company's financial position.
- Competing Priorities: Key influencers and decision makers at your customers and prospects are being barraged by priority issues requiring their attention. This includes not only professional priorities arising from drastic changes to business operations, but also personal priorities related to self-care or their family, friends, and community. Marketers will be challenged to prove that their ask deserves consideration. To succeed in this task, marketers need to drive meaningful engagement that is fueled by deep customer insights and provides highly relevant content and messaging.
The world has changed dramatically and abruptly in ways most of us have never considered. Many still haven't internalized the change. However, it is imperative for companies and marketers to realize that there is a new marketing landscape and that they need to act. We've outlined five new realities to be accounted for. However, the situation is rapidly evolving. It will be critical for marketers to develop a testing mentality and to be agile in the days ahead.