Marketing is a sensitive phenomena affected by what is going on in the world. Marketers have been positioned always at the frontline of every change or trend going in the market. We can call this process as the breath of bread the marketers have to experience in their morning and start preparing for it with questions such as what is going in the market? What is the new trend our consumer is following? And how we can respond?

Fundamentally, while marketing is highly sensitive to trends, in the times of Coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown, and economic recession, the marketing is officially going to war!

Let me first say that this article is not going to discuss the common trending tactics of how to show solidarity and how to support health care workers or how to raise awareness about social distancing. There are tons of articles full of tips and guidelines on how to adapt a responsive branding campaign during the time of the epidemic. This article is about what you should do with your marketing strategy in the short and long-term.

Key learnings from the Pandemic and Lockdown

Firstly, let’s extract the main factors we are facing during this exceptional time of our lives. Considering that we have never been in such situation and so few marketers from the 2008 crisis are still around, while most of the marketing team are probably younger. Even though the crisis now is bigger and more drastic then anyone has ever had and there were such no major lockdowns we have faced before. Yet, there are few key insights which we have to consider:

  1. The Internet is everything now: With the lockdown, the internet is becoming our life. People are relying on the Internet more than ever. Major amount companies are asking people to work from home, meetings are online, restaurants are only open online, universities and schools are only available online, and our consumption of entertainment is mainly online. We have been doing this before optionally, but now it is mandatory.
  2. The consumer is trapped: There is no more luxury of going to malls, fairs, and stores. There is uncertainty about how we will go to our regular life. All the takes now are about “flattening the curve” to control the virus’s new infection but there is no sign about how this is going to end. Obviously, if the lockdowns are release, people will still be conservative in their moves for a while. Online shopping will remain strong for months to come.
  3. People will get bored: Few days in the lockdown and people are suffering already. They have a big appetite for things to watch, browse and read. While watching the news is their top priority at the moment, their time is full of long hours to surf and read. They saved the time of traveling, commuting to work and social gathering. They have now a lot of time to read and watch online more than they ever did before.
  4. There is an urge: Currently, there is a strong urge to food and supplies. Gradually the urge will move towards many other things and it will rise based on the post-pandemic changes. The world is going to change for a while, and we are going to have a very hot summer full of new urges. Imagine if the borders are open finally and people allowed to travel safely then you can think of all the locked-down people around the world wanting to have a vacation. The most suffering industries such as travel and hospitality will flourish like never before. We all believe that there will be a recession but there will be an urge. How and where it is going to affect the most, we will get to see signs after signs, and it is better to be ready.
  5. Marketing hesitation: There is a decline in Chinese ad spend this year due to the outbreak of the virus according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network. Moreover, Econsultancy predicted that highly impacted countries will witness a decline in ad spend. The impact is not going to trigger a big decline in advertising spend and market budgets, there are several hesitations about campaign creativity and marketing channels. Notably, a new study by Pattern89 showed that imagery of human interaction declines by 27.4% in social ads due to the social distancing trend. Creativity is shifting and the pandemic controlling the way brands interact with consumers. We are in a crucial time for marketers and there is a huge uncertainty sense taking over.

What marketers should do during the crisis?

Eventually, the biggest lesson we should learn and act upon is to change. Marketers are like investors, and in the darkest times, there should be a change and radical decision to adopt. Remember that marketing at the frontlines of the battle and they should not just align but also to lead part of the change.

1. Change in the marketing strategy

The marketing strategy should be customized, and radical changes should be inherited. Today’s data is going to show different insights, predictions analysis is not going to be accurate, the consumer behavior is evolving, and a new strategy is required. Companies who hesitate in taking swift changes will suffer the most.

2. Rebuild the relationship with the customer

While the consumer is currently worried about their lives than what you are offering, it is time to show your brand story instead of aggressive advertising and acquisition tactics. People are online now more than ever and reaching them should not be limited to “stay safe” messages only. Think about reintroducing your brand and product through a story. Think of entertaining context you can come up with and more insightful content instead of your aggressive sales offer you flooded their inbox within the last year. Localize and personalize your approach and make the right connection away from KPIs pressures.

3. Change your attitude and think outside the fridge

Everyone during the quarantine is regularly visiting the fridge. It is not time to showcase your overly optimized marketing messages in the website headers. It is important to do some copywriting work and reshape your main messages to show more about who you are instead of what you need. The consumer is now at the phase of extensive reading with more time in hand. Fill that void with informative storytelling. In other words, it is time to strengthen the brand instead of aggressively promoting your product. Search for creative ideas and take bold actions in your marketing approach.

Example: Outdoor advertisement created by Miami Ad School, Thailand for Netflix. They designed an outstanding outdoor campaign for those who don’t stay at home during the quarantine. The campaign included spoilers of its top series.

4. Improve your marketing quality

It is better to overlook all the crappy processes, channels, and ad campaigns and revamp the marketing plan. The competition landscape is going to change slowly during the current phase, but the change will be super aggressive later on. A few months from now the recession will create a highly competitive ground for all types of businesses. You can witness right now how the competition is accelerating in some industries such as online grocery apps and streaming. Therefore, the budget and ad spend are not going to be the only topic on the table of senior management, but how we can respond fast to changes and stand out. The quality of the marketing activities is the right investment at the times of the Coronavirus crisis. Stand out creatively with quality and unique ideas.

Example: Great approach for Google Ads with a terrific storytelling idea.

Finally, there are many worries about our lives and the future right now. Eventually, during the storm marketers are working from home thinking of many questions such as the future of their jobs and the financial situation of their companies. With every storm, there will be seeds carried to grow new plants. Learning and adapting are important in these times and marketing is eventually one of the things that will witness a lot of changes such as our lives. It is better to focus on improving the quality of what we do than hesitating about how the numbers are falling down on the charts.

Published by Yasser Ahmad

Yasser Ahmad is an independent marketing consultant & digital marketing strategist. Yasser holds a Master degree in Data Analytics & Marketing. With over 16 years of experience in Digital, he is specialized in MarTech, AdTech, Marketing Automation, Performance Marketing, and Growth Hacking. Providing marketing consulting services across different regions including the Middle East, Europe, and APAC.