Marketing in the Coronavirus Crisis – Be cautious, but not afraid

The biggest marketing challenges being faced by marketers across the globe are:

  1. How to best utilise the slashed marketing budget?
  2. What to communicate to our consumers in the time of crisis?
  3. With more bandwidth available with internal marketing teams and agencies, how to best utilise their efforts?

I will try and answer the above questions with a fair bit of understanding and research on what’s happening across the globe, as well as what we’re seeing amongst our clients and peer networks.

The first action that a business should take in the time of crisis is to conserve cash and slash all unnecessary or non-critical business expense. Marketing, more often than not, is one of those functions that faces a budget cut. Now with the reduced budget, the temptation will be to focus on sales and conversion led campaigns that can contribute to the business growth in the time of crisis. If you are planning to do so (or have done so), take a pause and think about yourself. Sitting at the comfort of your home, working or non-working, buying anything non-essential is at the bottom of your priority list. Well, to put it better, you won’t even think about it. ‘Conserve cash during times of crisis’ holds true for end consumers as well. Validate this by a quick Google trend report on organic search for your brand in last two weeks.

So if not conversion/sales focussed campaigns, where should you deploy your budget and how should you change your media mix?

The best way to utilise the budget and redo your media mix is by focusing on brand building campaigns that will not yield result today but will definitely impact your sales once we are through this crisis.

Again, don’t be tempted to further slash down the spends on brand building campaigns and save it for future conversion campaigns. This is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful. Be cautious with your spends and invest in doing theme based campaign for long term brand benefit. As we recover from this situation, you’ll see your revenue rise and the ROI from your marketing spends go through the roof.

Once you have redone your media mix, the next crucial question is what to communicate?

You should do is figure out if your business can genuinely help contain the spread of Corona Virus in any way.

Take the example of LVMH, which has already turned around its manufacturing lines at brands like Guerlain, Parfums Christian Dior and Givenchy to mass manufacture hand sanitisers for French hospitals. Consumers won’t forget this initiative by the brand and for the brand, they would have earned the goodwill of hundreds and thousands of customers for a lifetime. Beyond such an initiative, you need to really understand your consumer’s behaviour at this time. The same set of consumers might behave differently during the time of crisis.

Figure out, what best you can do as a brand for them.

  • Can your brand be a source of genuine information related to something relevant at this time?
  • Can your brand help tackle any issues that your consumers are facing while stuck to their home? Or
  • Can you brand help remove boredom and bring a smile on their face?

Whatever, you do, there should be a genuine purpose behind it. There will never be a better time for a brand to turn itself into a brand with a purpose.

[See below what Coca-cola is doing during Corona crisis]
Cocacola corona effect

Finally, whether you like it or not, your internal marketing team as well as your agency will have some extra bandwidth given a lot of product launches, events, sales focussed campaigns being postponed to an indefinite time. Here is your chance to prepare yourself for the future.

Relook at your entire digital and marketing stack to find out how you can optimise it. Ask these simple questions:

  • Is my website optimised for SEO and Voice Search?
  • Is my digital funnel optimized for conversions? Can I further optimise it?
  • Is my website fast enough to drive conversions?
  • Is my social presence good enough or do I need to refresh it with better content strategy for each channel?
  • Is my social media performing better vis a vis my competition?
  • Is my brand speaking the same language across channels? Do I need a brand guideline document to bring this sanity across channels?
  • Is my sales team decked up with enough resources like product demo video, sales pitch deck, etc. to close sales?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you know what to do. Pick the problem or rather pick the opportunity and get your internal marketing team or an external agency to help you out. Remember, every buck is important, so carefully pick the right agency who can help you during this time of crisis in a cost-effective way.

Take care of yourself and your brand. Be cautious but don’t be afraid!

Neeraj Sancheti is the Co-founder and CEO of Kreativ Street. He can be reached at neeraj@kreativstreet.com or you can visit www.kreativstreet.com for a cost-effective marketing solution!

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