Many fine words have been spoken about how pandemic changed lives. The urgent need to redistribute shifted the way many businesses used to operate, while consumers’ needs and expectations were highly diversified. In result, some of the good-old marketing channels got left behind, and technology as a sales tool accelerated in no time. So what exactly happened behind the “commercial” scenes? Here are 5 WAYS COVID CHANGED MARKETING:
- All Digital: trying new things.
The unprecedented rise in use of Social Media, e-commerce and streaming services brought in a big chunk of advertisers attempting to regroup their marketing efforts. While Amazon was multiplying its sales, Netflix hitting eyeball records, and Zuckerberg scoring even higher, hundreds of businesses had to “go digital” as well. This massive “compulsory” shift not only added new players to the existing market but also higherned paid advertising benchmarks. Besides the higher bids, now, as never before, advertisers had to come up with highly targeted, quality content that could RESONATE with their consumers. With all digital spots sold-out, creative specialties now had fewer seconds to either prove the relevance of their piece or get scrolled over in favor of their competitor. Not to mention SEO & paid advertising that became the top priority for any modern business intending to achieve or maintain competitive advantage, it all came to one – go digital or go home.
- ATL Ads Abandoned: traditional advertising recessed even more.
The streets being empty with no traffic for months resulted in a drastic drop in sales of various traditional ATL (Above the Line) spots, especially printed and radio ads. Not to mention the negative effects of restrictive measures on the printed ads’ exposure rates, with businesses becoming strictly revenue-oriented and implementing merely cost effective marketing strategies, print advertising got put on the shelf. In 2020, billboards, scrollers, posters, newspapers, banners and other ATL means got essentially left out from marketing budgets shrinking the global print advertising market by 10% compared to 2019 while research estimates another 5% decline by 2023. In case of radio advertising, 2020 radio spot sales dropped by around 5% compared to 2019 intensifying the ongoing recession of placing traditional advertising in favor of tech-oriented, BTL marketing even further. In contrast to print advertising, radio has been significantly more cost effective, this said, Covid motivated many businesses to launch digital radio streams which primarily started gaining popularity in the UK. In a nutshell, less became more.
- New Wants & Needs: rethinking products.
From the marketing point of view, what the new Covid reality changed the most was the consumer’s lifestyle. The durable home isolation, minimal social interaction and lack of entertainment introduced brand new customer needs which totally turned upside down the plans of marketing professionals. Many previously effective marketing motivators like a sense of social acceptance, notion of classiness or coolness got replaced with the strong need of comfort, entertainment, and interaction. This led many businesses to rethink their products and the offered customer experience. A great example of this is the appearance of numerous online casual clothing brands, home related products and DIY videos not only independently but also within popular conglomerates. Businesses realized that the faster they figured and delivered what their customers needed, the better were the chances to minimize financial losses and even to earn more. Think of Zoom, Uber Eats and other companies who innovated their products’ features to better meet the needs of their customers. Again, how much they earned last year?
- Operational Turnover: providing at all means.
With the great restrictive measures came greatly restricted capabilities. Even though no business sector escaped the Covid stir, some faced real deadly risks. Hundreds of businesses rushed to shift their core operational cycles, regroup distribution, thoroughly digitalize to stay on the surface, while those who reacted slowly shrank. As mentioned, most distributional processes had to be filtered in favor of online sales, thus the businesses that had the highest skill and the most habit of executing digital marketing found themselves in a better position. On the other hand, sectors like hospitality and entertainment had to start from the scratch and figure innovative ways out. Did you know about virtual sightseeing tour packages being sold on the web? Not to mention paid digital events and performances that many entertainment companies came up with as an alternative to nothing. Other good examples of marketing-intended operational changes were the options for in-store pickups, takeaways, contactless food deliveries, etc. In short, Covid demanded quick action/reaction sparing merely those who were equipped enough to flex.
- Well-thought Marketing: wasting not a cent.
The radical cut of marketing budgets shotgunned companies to seek the highest returns with the minimal costs. Although this has always been the rule of thumb in marketing, when things were better, underdeveloped, poorly targeted, spiritless campaigns were casually running around the media. In the Covid reality, marketing directors had to allocate limited resources for just a few ideas, so quality over quantity was the only available option. If before, businesses strived to achieve customer-centered marketing, now there was simply no other way. And, luckily for marketers, digital platforms offer as much data as one would need to measure and analyze the effectiveness of even the tiniest tactics. Besides, many brands went ahead and began educating their audiences through informative, empathetic advertising content: this was a great way to maintain customer loyalty during the hard times. So did Covid actually drive the field professionals to exercise the best practices of data-driven marketing? The answer is yes, it surely did.
To sum up, the new Covid reality brought brand new challenges for marketers. Even the most experienced professionals had hard time redesigning timely strategies with no exact estimates for the future. Surely, the businesses with more spare resources had more options in finding their way through, whereas smaller companies with much less leverage, adapted poorly and faced drastic losses. While technology once again proved its triumph over the old, and digital marketing stepped to the forefront, human inventiveness remained the biggest reinforcing asset.