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Covid-19’s Impact on Marketing

Posted on: June 18, 2020

By: Steve Isenberg

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –  Socrates

Quick—name three aspects of daily life not impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Okay . . . name one.

Still thinking? Coming up with even one answer is a tall order. Because Covid-19 has impacted every nook and cranny of life as we knew it. As society takes steps to resume what will amount to a semblance of “back to normal” life, the marketing industry finds itself in the same boat. They are attempting to affect strategies and processes, proffer guidelines, and standards for productive marketing endeavors in the era of a post-pandemic world.

“A global crisis can either paralyze a marketing team or galvanize it to thrive,” says Andrew Reid, Rival Technologies founder, and CEO. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s exactly what we’re seeing: some companies are cutting back on marketing (in some instances, laying off the entire marketing team), while others are being more agile and coming up with interesting ways of engaging their audience during these difficult times.” 

Reid points to long-term studies that suggest an increase, rather than a decrease in marketing spending, is the wise approach during times of economic uncertainty. He cautions, “The last thing you want is to be caught flat-footed and find yourself lagging your competitors when the economy revs up again.”

Marketers should be encouraged by the results from a March 18 survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and real-time market research platform Suzy.

  • 43% of consumers surveyed found it reassuring to hear from trusted brands during this time
  • 40% desired to listen to what brands were doing in response to the crisis
  • 56% were pleased to learn of actions taken and donations made by specific brands
  • Only 15% expressed a desire not to hear advertising at this time

The Reality of the Pandemic’s Impact

Early indications via a survey conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers painted a gripping picture of Covid-19’s immediate impact on marketing. Key take-outs include—

  • 81% of members surveyed had deferred their campaigns due to the crisis
  • 50% had already launched new campaigns with another 29% planning toward a new campaign
  • 6 in 10 had reduced their media and marketing budgets

The quandary: determine how in the short term to play a useful, beneficial role for customers and business partners alike while attempting to strategize for the long run. All while pondering the questions of how and for how long, that loom large and unanswered in everyone’s mind.

From the consumer perspective, uncertainty and extreme caution coupled for some with fear and panic have become driving forces, making the most basic of life’s decisions not only more challenging but all-consuming. It’s all many folks can do to concern themselves with their family’s essential needs of food, water, and shelter, keeping the family safe by severely limiting non-essential interaction, and securing a consistent stream of income.

Responsible Marketing

While integrity and trust should always be a top priority for marketers, trying times such as these call for a greater depth of attention to these essential building blocks. The pressures that arise from the swiftly evolving nature of these unprecedented times can make taking the right actions at the right time for the right reasons challenging to put it mildly.

For those with products or services well-suited and in high demand, the line between exploiting a devastating circumstance and responsible advertising can be difficult to distinguish.

“Long before the coronavirus emerged, consumer trust in both government and large brands had eroded,” says Laura Starita. “People now align more closely with family, friends, and local businesses. The current crisis seems poised to amplify the distrust customers have of brands. Brands can push against that wave by rising to the occasion to re-establish trust through customer-centric actions.”

Starita suggests several avenues for “listening” to the consumer via—

  • voice of the customer (VoC) programs and social listening to monitor for discussions about health concerns or needs
  • seeking information from sales and account management teams concerning what they hear from the front lines
  • being attentive to changes in sentiment and voiced concerns in customer service emails, phone calls, and service chats

The key will be striving for a balanced response that seeks to support customers and protect established relationships coupled with a firm commitment to integrity concerning the organization’s capabilities at this time. Be especially mindful of and steer clear of actions that bring the company short-term gain or stability at the expense of customer trust.

Adapting Marketing Strategies

Jeff Raymond offers guidance on how to reassess and readjust the 4 P’s of marketing—product, place, price, and promotion—in light of the virus’s impact. Consider these probing questions—

  • What product changes can we implement now to best serve our customers and communities without negatively impacting what we can contribute in the longer-term?
  • How can we adjust employee and customer interactions to maximize safety and still deliver what customers want and need?
  • What pricing adjustments, offers, or changes to buying terms can we extend to put prospects more at ease with procuring what they need?
  • Will audiences seek out information related to my product or service in the same ways they always have? What do they need to hear from us in those messages?

If you’re waiting for things to settle down and return to normal, the wait may be longer than you imagined. The longer the virus remains active, the more experts lean toward the need to establish a “new normal” for both personal life and the business sector.

And that’s where a partnership with ASJ Partners can make all the difference. With their finger on the pulse of the staffing industry, their insight and expertise can position your staffing company to succeed in the challenging days ahead. Give our experienced team a call today!



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