This is a time for every organization to re-examine its priorities for the next few weeks and even the next few quarters. Your customers’ needs, your partners, your employees, the world overall. Marketers in particular may choose to shift messaging, spend or delay initiatives, but it doesn’t mean to stop communicating—or to stop leading. Now’s the time to find your voice, demonstrate empathy and reinforce relationships you’ve worked hard to build. This is marketing’s time, so let’s take a look at how to adjust your marketing priorities.
Every Choice Should Flow from How You Can Help
Take this time to reflect on how you can help, and then take action. Help both your customers and employees acknowledge and manage their primary fear: staying healthy and keeping loved ones safe. Support them by providing structure and ways to fill time. Encourage them to connect to one another. Provide ways to practice gratitude for those guiding us through this. And finally, help people remember we will persevere.
Tapping Your Existing Marketing Skillset
While we haven’t experienced a moment exactly like this before, through our work helping clients transform their marketing strategies we can identify at least eight levers every marketer has, and shifts one might make now:
- Value Prop: Revisit what you offer and supplement with a service, incentive and channel distribution that could make a difference and be relevant in this moment. Universal shifted distribution channels, accelerating shift of in-theatre releases to online rentals.
- Pricing:Sensitive to customer needs, you might cut prices, waive fees, or offer rebates. Seamless removed delivery fees, instead giving them to drivers. CreativeLive made streaming health and wellness classes free. Burger King is offering free kids meals with purchase via its app. It’s promotional, but one can argue it helps parents joyously feed their kids.
- Targeting: While your plan may have had a customer acquisition posture, this might be a better time to refocus on your core: existing customers who know you and need you more than ever. Is there a special group of people or need state you can demonstratively help?
- Messaging: Refresh your messaging to focus on relevance, perhaps with customer updates on what the brand (and your people) are doing during the crisis. Ford replaced national product advertising with a coronavirus-response campaign, which includes mention of payment relief.
- Content: Information, entertainment and utility all can be powerful levers. How can you serve the primary need of staying healthy, while managing anxieties about finances, need for everyday supplies, and many other general uncertainties that will be with us in the coming months? Many brands are shifting their services and are offering up support in open, honest – ultimately very helpful – ways. Zola, a go-to resource for wedding planning has provided updates and resources for couples whose weddings will potentially be affected as well as set up a hotline. Is there a timely video, article series or ebook that will help solve a customer need?
- Spend: Pressured for cost savings or for an inappropriate context, you may drastically cut media or sales promotion spend. What will you do with those funds? We also expect to see shifts in media buys to reaching people at home including digital display, social, direct mail, TV, and video including OTT.
- Measurement: Re-evaluate what matters and what success will look like. Put raw revenue and profit in context with human costs, reputation and relationship metrics. What you do for customers and employees has the potential for amplification via media and social more than ever.
- Team Organization: Is your marketing team set up for this situation? How is the relationship and coordination with corporate communications, service, sales and product? Do quick pivots need to be made? Notice any skill gaps and needs to shift roles towards better listening and faster servicing.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are re-evaluating your marketing across one, five, or all of the above measures, remember this is a shifting situation. It’s important to be agile yet calm. Steadfast and strategic.
If you need help prioritizing which levers to pull, and what your moves might be? We’re here to help. Drop your questions, or ideas, into the comments or reach out directly here.