How marketers can manage Covid-19 crisis and plan for the future

The Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented. As companies try to get their arms around the human costs as the pandemic continues to spread, they are also struggling to understand the impact on their business and how to respond.

Marketing leaders are faced with an entirely new reality: how should we be communicating with our customers? How do we adapt our marketing strategy to meet customers where they are? How should we pivot our marketing spend both short and long term? How should we be working with our teams and our colleagues across the business? How are we going to stay in business? And all this on top of how we can support our family, friends and communities.

The speed of change for marketers has accelerated. With retail shut down, sports at a standstill and upfronts in effect cancelled, many of the channels that companies have traditionally relied on are out of commission. Clearly, shopping channels will reopen eventually, but marketers need to adjust to a very different environment in the short term.

While there is still much uncertainty about the future, we are likely in the midst of a generation-defining event that will influence how consumers behave for years to come. Marketers will need to be fast and pragmatic to manage the crisis, while also being strategic on how to weather the downturn and plan for recovery. This requires a three-pronged approach that marketing leaders need to manage simultaneously.

1 Manage the now with resolve and resilience

The number-one priority should be immediately changing ways of working to focus on employee wellness and health. With circumstances so radically different now, marketers should also get an immediate handle on customer motivations and behaviour, questioning everything they previously believed to be true. Our consumer sentiment surveys are already starting to shed light on how consumers feel today and how they plan to shop.

At the same time, marketing leaders should act decisively to manage costs and increase productivity, re-evaluating media performance and getting a clear picture of the impact of each marketing dollar spent. Finally, marketers need to drive revenue response. Consumer are spending less, making it critical for marketers to narrow their focus to a number of use cases and segments with the best demand-generation profiles.

2 Plan for the recovery

In a crisis, it’s natural to focus only on near-term business results and adopt a pure survival strategy. We don’t know what the recovery will look like or when it will come, but there will be a bottom to this crisis and marketers need to be ready to address demand when things are restored. Companies that thrived after past recessions, we know from past experience, were those that kept communicating with consumers through the downturn, took a more active posture, focused on through-cycle interventions and acted with urgency. Marketing leaders should consider how to re-architect their current marketing models, approaches and tools to get ready for the turnaround.

3 Reimagine and shape the ‘next normal

When we emerge from the crisis, we are likely to find ourselves in a world that is significantly different from the pre-Covid-19 period. It is too early to tell what that will look like – what behaviours will stick, what attitudes will have shifted permanently and what technologies will have firmly taken root in people’s lives.

But we are quite likely to see some changes in consumer psyche and these are the things that will truly define the next normal. How will attitudes change regarding healthcare or carbon usage or investments or institutions, for example? Companies shouldn’t wait for a completely clear picture of the future to emerge, so they need to take a studied portfolio approach to create options for growth depending on how the market and consumers shift. This is an area where marketing leaders can help the chief executive and the business as a whole to start reimagining the future.
Traditionally, marketing has been the business function that best understands the customer. How well marketing leaders can continue to be relevant as their customers change will play a key role in determining how businesses will weather the Covid-19 crisis and meet the needs of tomorrow’s consumers.

Source: Campaignlive


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