Spending my shelter-in-place time educating myself has been one benefit of our current national situation. My focus has been on learning things I can share with you on multiple levels. I have written about the personal side of this crisis, the social aspects, the business implications and from a perspective of looking forward beyond COVID-19. Looking forward is something I have always enjoyed doing, in particular as I try to recognize trends before they happen to give our clients a competitive advantage.
History and research clearly has shown, marketers who keep spending during downturns fare much much better than those who don’t.
Now that consumer panic buying seems to have peaked [ I have seen toilet paper on shelf 🙂 ], brand panic from a business perspective may have just begun, because many brands including, the industries we serve, have slashed spending. Nonprofits in particular are being hard hit. However, we have to recommend that businesses and nonprofits resist this temptation. There has been an abundance of research that points to the fact that brands cutting spending now will have a harder time when recovery comes. Despite the unprecedented disruption in our collective lives, the current crisis is also creating opportunities for brands.
As business people, paying close attention to local, regional and national economic cues are important. For example, Goldman Sachs is projecting a 34% decline in 2nd quarter GDP. In addition to the US Department of Labor as of last week, unemployment claims hit 22 million. Understanding these details and their implications makes us better planners and prepares us for what may lie ahead. With that there are some things that marketing experts and economists agree business leaders should try to resist.
Resist Cutting Marketing now – as it will have long-term effects
In a survey last week by a leading research firm RSW/US they found that 9% of marketers have cut all spending, another 29% have “greatly reduced it” and another 31% have “somewhat reduced it.” Instead of taking such drastic measures, experts recommend (if at all possible) maintaining your pre COVID-19 posture. It is a well known fact that consumers are drawn to trusted and known brands in challenging times.
Time to Change the Message
Brands that have continued to invest in marketing have changed their messages. Now is the time to focus on showing gratitude to your customers, employees and community in your marketing messages. Empathy goes a long way in the trust matrix.
Changing the Channel
Ok, so the shops, stores, or service businesses physical locations are closed, it is high time to open your virtual business and shift to e-commerce. Web searches for products and services are up in huge numbers. Are your websites and social media channels tuned up to the point that your products or services can be easily found? A question we can answer if given the proper time to do an analysis and implement sound, time tested recommendations. You would be amazed at how many companies Google listings’ contain numerous inaccuracies. Preliminary research is indicating that consumers flocking to the internet will continue even after shelter-in-place is lifted. Don’t get left behind.
Look for New Opportunities
Direct to consumer is here to stay. This has implications for every industry segment including produce. As many as 44% of consumers recently bought something new online because they could not find what they wanted in a brick and mortar store (research by AcuPOLL). In economic terms that means finding a perfect substitute.
Despite all the stress and anxiety we all are feeling, I am turning that energy into looking for ways to improve, grow and differentiate. My hope is that in writing these articles it will inspire you to do the same. Hold your nerve, this will pass, and we’ll be on the road to recovery.
Stay tuned for next week when I will discuss leadership from your living room.