Your organization has made countless adaptations this year, but that doesn’t mean drastic shifts from regular operations must continue. Avoid unnecessary marketing changes during the last portion of the year that could hurt business in the long run.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the economy to its core. While you might be tempted to respond to economic conditions by halting marketing spending, marketing remains an essential component of your business strategy. Brands that stop marketing completely could face revenue declines of up to 11 percent in 2021, and it takes three to five years of consistent branding for businesses to recover from periods of total darkness.
You have adjusted your operations, strategy, budgets and more. These decisions should guide how you reassess your marketing strategies to align with your updated operations and goals.
“For any organization that’s going to stay in business, marketing is necessary to continue to educate your audience, stay at the top of their minds and acquire new customers,” said Brett Adams, chief marketing officer. “Consider your customer and how they need to be informed and educated about anything that may be different with your brand.”
Don’t React, Re-Strategize
Instead of making a knee-jerk reaction to cut entire portions of your marketing budget or desert certain platforms — thereby neglecting portions of your audience, use this time as an opportunity to strategize for the remainder of the year. Consider what changes you’ve made and which you expect will endure into 2021. Your updated marketing strategy should reflect the new processes and goals your company expects to have in for the next six months, not just the next six weeks.
Look at your historic marketing strategies and guiding principles. See how they can flex to fit your new needs.
“When something very quickly changes how you have to market your business, the gut reaction is to immediately respond,” Brett noted. “That’s not a good long-term strategy. Your approach should ebb and flow slightly based on the current environment, but look at your historic marketing strategies and guiding principles. See how they can flex to fit your new needs.”
Consider Your Platforms
The platforms where you reach your audiences should guide where to invest your marketing budget. The pandemic has upended consumers’ habits, leading to jaw-dropping increases in media consumption on digital platforms as people shop, message, stream, surf the web, scroll social media and read news online.
By the end of March 2020, Americans increased their media consumption on internet connected devices between 46 and 85 percent, another Nielsen report found. Social media use increased, with up to 51 percent of Americans saying they used social media more since the outbreak began. Nearly 60 percent of consumers are streaming video more frequently, while a whopping 90 percent of those working from home stream audio. Media consumption remains high as many social distancing restrictions held throughout the summer.
Because more people are spending time online, investing in your website is essential. A website helps capture visitors’ attention, make a good first impression and keep customers apprised of product and service updates. Businesses can take advantage of increased online shopping habits and use their website to assure their customers that they are maintaining safe practices. Additionally, B2B brands are relying more on their sites to interact with internal audiences, stakeholders and peer groups. Because in-person events are on hold and many employees are still working from home, organizations are adding intranet portals and hosting video meetings through their websites.
And while the surge in traffic on digital channels continues, tried-and-true platforms also saw a boost in usership. More than 40 percent of consumers are watching more broadcast TV, and they’re spending more than four hours a day — on average — doing so.
When adapting your marketing plan, research how your audiences’ consumption habits have shifted. Perhaps it makes sense to prioritize some platforms or even begin advertising through new mediums. However, you don’t want to advertise on just one or two platforms.
“A diverse advertising mix is a must,” advised Travis Ziemke, media director. “You want to advertise where you know your audience is, but you also want to find potential customers as they consume more content. You have the opportunity to build a new customer base. And as other brands pull back spending, your brand’s advertising will make more of an impact.”
Adjust, Increase Budgets
While your business may be faced with budget crunches, it’s imperative to continue to invest in marketing. In fact, it may benefit your business to increase your budget for some portions of your marketing plan. As your competitors make a quick reaction and pull their marketing dollars, seize their portion of the market share.
If your competitors are hitting the pause button, you have an opportunity to gain awareness and break through.
“If your competitors are hitting the pause button, you have an opportunity to gain awareness and break through,” said Ron Maahs, CEO. “Staying appropriately visible will give you an opportunity to raise the level of your brand.”
Both digital and long-standing media platforms are less cluttered right now. Since March, the amount of advertising produced by the travel, retail and telecommunications industries decreased by 60, 21 and 17 percent, respectively. Additionally, social media titans are predicting annual revenue declines since advertisers pulled campaigns in the earlier half of the year. It’s a great time to increase your social media spend.
“There’s no minimum to get started on any social advertising platform. It’s a great fit for small and large budgets alike,” said Kramer McLuckie, digital communications manager. “It’s a nimble way to publish your operational updates, target specific demographics and adjust your advertising campaigns as frequently as needed.”
Travis said brands seeing success aren’t afraid to keep advertising and boost spending to reach their audiences. Embracing an authentic, relatable tone shows customers that their products and services have adjusted along with consumers’ lives. With less clutter on media platforms and a continued need for products and services, advertisers can retain customers and potentially grow a new loyal audience base.
“It still doesn’t make sense for some industries to be advertising much, like the travel industry. We’re urging brands to increase advertising on their chosen platforms as the holidays approach, cold weather sets in and people will continue consuming content,” Travis said.
To continue doing business, you need to let people know that you’re there for them.