OPINION PIECE: WHAT COVID-19 MEANS FOR THE MARKETING SPACE.

The Coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting millions of people. It is also having a growing impact on the global economy. A lot of countries are facing this pandemic and are trying to beat it. The virus, as we all know, has affected our economic, social and political activities. This has slowly but surely become our new normal. Almost all sectors of the economy have taken a hit. Lives have been lost and life will never be the same.

Having said that, the virus has also forced us to become more innovative, become more altruistic, lend a hand to the more vulnerable people in the society. The scale has shifted and so has marketing and advertising.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have felt the most impact. A lot of business owners have been forced to lay off workers or even shut down their businesses. The circular flow of money has been disrupted. The model has changed. Lets take a look at a few numbers:

  • 70% of SMEs have seen a negative impact on their business.
  • 60% of SMEs have modified their marketing plans.
  • 37% of SMEs felt prepared for a crisis of this magnitude.
  • Over of SMEs 52% have paused hiring.
  • 73% of SMEs are working to retain their customers.

How will marketing need to shift?

In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. And marketers as well as business owners need to start adapting to the changes. At a glance it appears as if everything is doomed to fail but i choose to believe otherwise. If marketing strategies are correctly executed, this period could be a game changer for your organization.

With most people at home, media consumption has increased drastically. Almost by 70%. According to a recent survey by Statista there has been a worldwide increase of:

  • 36% of people watching more news coverage.
  • 27% of people watching more shows and films on streaming services.
  • 22% of people spending more time on messaging services.
  • 21% of people spending longer on social media.
  • 20% of people watching more TV broadcast channels.
  • 18% of people playing video games more.
  • 14% of people reading more or listening to audio books.
  • 13% of people listening to more streaming services.

I could keep going on and on but if there’s any deduction that we could gather from the above information is that consumer behavior has changed drastically. And we as marketers, need to ride on that wave.

While there has been a significant increase in media consumption, there has been a decrease in ads. A lot of advertisers are pulling out due to the economic state that we are all facing. Many brands are being cautious right now as people do not want to be constantly bombarded by ads while their loved ones are getting sick.

Also due to the shift in e-commerce, which has led to the potential reduction in good and increase of purchases, this has led to a reduction in ads.

That aside, a lot of events have been cancelled and this is one of the key areas where ad industries generate their revenues.

What does all this mean for marketers?

First and foremost, marketers need to go back to the drawing board. Get to reacquaint yourselves with your consumers. Learn how this pandemic has affected their;

  1. Purchasing behavior
  2. Buying process
  3. Where they spend most of their time.

Is your business brick and mortar? Is this an opportunity for you to give back to the community? Is there anything that you can do to make this a more pleasurable time for your consumers?

These are some of the questions that a marketer should be able to answer for their organization. The next step should be to tailor your marketing strategies according to the needs of your consumers.

  1. Focus on what and who you know. Your first duty should be to your pre-existing customers. Reach out to them and tell them what your organization is doing to help fight this pandemic.
  2. Tell them about any new regulations that you want them to comply with. Open up your communication channels and let them know that their feedback is equally as important. Listen to what they have to say.
  3. Create light content. Engage your customers as they already have a lot that they are dealing with. Offer them tips on how to navigate these hard and tricky times. Keep their minds occupied.
  4. Map out your new marketing strategy. This strategy does not have to be long term. Just a short term strategy that will help generate leads and maintain your customers. Do not let your customers forget about you.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has left its mark in history – the question is rather how much things will change. Each industry is being impacted differently. And while things may seem a little bleak, the message behind every organization should be one full of optimism; for this too shall pass.

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