Remember last month when we were mostly worried how the general election was going to potentially affect select marketing channels?
At that time, marketers were more stressed over how presidential candidates like Michael Bloomberg with their “deep pockets” could affect available inventory within marketing channels such as TV.
Fast forward to today, Bloomberg is out of the running and the world is completely abuzz with the coronavirus. And properly so. People have lost their lives over COVID-19. Further mandated closings and measures of containment hit the news daily. The virus continues to make significant impacts on how we manage our daily lives and do business. That said, regardless of how COVID-19 plays out in the U.S., one thing is abundantly clear — all of us will need to make changes across all lines of business — including marketing and advertising.
Some industries will be more affected than others — specifically travel, entertainment, hospitality, and luxury goods industries. However, others like CPG, insurance, and healthcare will likely end up being more insulated from a potential downturn.
As much of the U.S. looks to practice ‘social distancing’ in the coming weeks and months, there are several ways that you can continue to reach out (and provide value to) your audience regardless of your industry:
1. Clearly communicate efforts:
Consumers do not like uncertainty. If you want proof of this, all you need to do is walk into a supermarket and try to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer!
In an age rife with misinformation, we must ensure that we provide clear, up-to-date information about how our companies or organizations are dealing with the virus’ impact.
You shouldn’t expect that your organization’s communication will completely remove people’s concerns. Instead your goals should be focused on solely providing timely and guided information. For example, if a city near your organization’s location(s) becomes the subject of new travel restrictions, closures, or becomes “ground zero” for outbreaks, you must react immediately. Information can be as simple as highlighting new cleaning/hygiene protocols and/or announcements pertaining to services or activities that may pose health risks.
2. Place even greater emphasis on the online experience:
This should be obvious. Online ordering will continue to see massive growth throughout 2020 as people look to limit unnecessary face-to-face interactions.
Non-retail/CPG-related industries will likely see similar needs. If people are not looking to be exposed to crowds, how will your organization react to this? Will your organization focus on providing virtual events or webinars as an alternative to in-person events/seminars? If so, are prospects easily able to login and get a similar online experience to being in-person? There doesn’t seem like a better time than now to enable this!
3. Short-term ad spend may need to shift:
In the short-term, it’s reasonable to believe that ad spends may decline as organizations look to strategically shift some of their messaging or goals. For example, in the travel industry, there is no sense promoting travel to Europe when travel is banned there for the short term.
With a reduction in travel, events, conferences, etc., it’s natural to surmise that much digital marketing may also experience a decline in the immediate short term. In fact, some analysts anticipate Google will see a 15% YoY decline in travel ad revenue in the first quarter and a 20% drop in the second quarter due to the outbreak.
That said, any declines within digital marketing will very likely be short-lived and will likely grow later in 2020 as strategies evolve. With more people of all ages working at home, and online, some marketers may benefit from expanded exposure and increasing promotion online. While digital marketing will rebound quickly, marketers shouldn’t overlook other tactics like TV. Again, as more consumers work from home more regularly, audience levels will most certainly increase. Whereas outdoor advertising may decline because of far less foot traffic.
4. Emphasis on marketing results will become even more essential:
Finally, any prolonged disruptions in marketing or decreases in consumer spending will most certainly result in advertising being forced to become even more accountable. Anticipate that “performance marketing” will become even more essential as many organizations delay any rebranding work in favor of using direct marketing strategies to reduce earlier losses.
The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving quickly. Businesses must stay nimble in their operations and marketing — timely communications strategies for customers and prospects are critical. At DMW, we’re ready to help you react in this dynamic world with direct response marketing that strengthens your brand and better positions you for success. Contact us today.
For Medicare marketers, COVID-19 adds new challenges to this year’s AEP, but many remain the same. Download our 7-Point AEP Checklist to help you start preparing for it.