When the pandemic worsened and lockdowns swept across the nation, we saw most businesses pull back on their marketing efforts and, in some cases, pretty much everything. Many had to temporarily close, move operations online, or shut down permanently. Even our agency scaled back a lot of what we had planned for 2020. It’s been a difficult year to say the least, but the silver lining is that we’ve been able to observe and learn from the dynamic situation. Here’s we found out.
Some businesses we observed pulled back drastically. Either they had little choice or they believed that saving cash was the best way to weather the storm. Other businesses “doubled-down” and increased their marketing initiatives. These brands were able to cut through the would-be noise and pay less for ads while their competition sat on the sidelines. Armed with narratives sensitive to the current situation, many of them maintained pre-pandemic levels of sales at pre-pandemic levels or in some cases even saw sales skyrocket.
The majority of businesses we observed actually deployed a third strategy: pivoting. With mandated closures and ordinances, more businesses than ever realized they needed to start selling online. In fact, web searches for the eCommerce platform, Shopify, exploded since April. Those who already had online storefronts switched to long-term marketing investments or nominal initiatives such as content, social media or SEO-related housekeeping.
Search trends that subsequently emerged highlighted a new outlook for people everywhere: pragmatism. Demand (and searches) for product was still there, but it shifted. For example, shoppers who previously shopped for clothing in a broad sense narrowed their focus to athleisure. Entertainment shifted to things that could be done at home or while socially distanced like fishing or drive-in cinema. And almost no one was immune to shopping for home improvement or remote work equipment like desks and webcams.
The wide variety of reactions we saw inspired us to seek research on past events we could compare to. We found this study from Harvard Business Review suggesting that instead of ceasing all marketing, refining marketing strategies during an economic downturn is more likely to be successful during and after a recession.
This is especially relevant considering how we live in a time of ever-increasing digitalization and data that shows mobile e-commerce is poised for even more growth:
Of course, every business or brand faces a unique set of challenges. Increasing or even maintaining initiatives may not be feasible, so the key is identifying and seizing the opportunity your current situation has presented you with. That’s where we can help.
Conserving resources can be achieved by focusing on things like website housekeeping or content marketing that you can produce on your own. While these might seem like low impact actions, they actually pay dividends in the long run.
Online reputation management like updating your Google My Business listing is especially important since the listings now highlight Covid safety measures with attributes such as: Appointment Required, Mask Required, Staff Gets Temperature Checks, Staff Wear Masks or Temperature Check Required.
Refining your marketing strategy for the world we find ourselves in todayis easier than you might think. Many marketing fundamentals remain the same, but they are now weighted differently: for example, tone and messaging have always been a consideration, but audiences are likely to be more sensitive to them now.
Lastly, if you have the resources to double-down, the time is now. This is your opportunity to grab the attention of your customers. Not only will it likely be at a discounted price, it will also likely be at a time when the the right messaging will enjoy sky high efficacy.