Commentary

Marketing In COVID Era: Now More Than Ever, Fortune Favors The Bold

Preparing for the unpredictable is challenging. For marketers looking to rebuild their revenues in 2021, the task is daunting: the world is unsettled, and economic indicators are murky -- which can lead to quick decisions, or an over-abundance of caution. And that's no way to rebuild a robust marketing plan.

Among today's boardroom soundbites: “Should I prepare for a 'V' recovery? "Maybe we should cut marketing costs and mitigate risks given all of the uncertainty?” These are the questions executives are grappling with across every industry, big and small.

As my four-year-old daughter would say, “Who cares?” And she’s right. Great companies, like athletes, investors, or military leaders, thrive in uncertainty and chaos. They strike hard, fast, and aggressively while their competitors are mired in hesitation, self-doubt, and fear.

This is the time for your company to increase communication and spending to capture greater market share, build customer loyalty, and aggressively supplant the competition's hold on your consumers.

During the height of the pandemic, many businesses have thrived -- and not just plexiglass, sanitization, or health/wellness companies either.  I'm also referring to the industries hit hardest: hospitality, food service and other lifestyle brands.

For example, we have seen hospitality companies maintain or accelerate spending during the peak COVID months, not only to see their ROI nearly double, but also to see increases in revenue, average daily rate, and overall web traffic. The reason is simple: They filled a void left by competitors who had fled the marketplace.

This strategic philosophy sounds great on paper but can be vastly more complicated to implement in corporate America. Let’s face it: Most of us in business cannot act alone, nor are we in a position to deploy funds without significant upward approval. So how can we practically deploy a strategy to affect this landscape – to spend more, attack the competition, and regain lost demand?

1. Change the narrative from cost to investment: What is your company willing to invest to maintain or capture new market share, sales, or value?

2. Double your spending, double the results: Whatever you spent this year for marketing/advertising should be doubled in 2021. In the short term, your margins will likely shrink, but the longer view (2022 and beyond) reveals that your company will have greater market share, at a lower cost to acquire, and that you can trim expenses as your company expands.

3. Embrace your customer: Shift significant efforts to loyalty and retention, particularly if your executive team is unwilling to grow marketing investments. If you can increase loyalty, it will drive profitability and fuel future growth.

4. Leverage digital and technology: Now is the time to completely reshape your marketing landscape through automation, enhanced ecommerce, and one-to-one outreach/prospecting. In some cases, this means getting more for less or more for more. Bottom line: You will win.

5. Reinvigorate your brand: COVID has forever changed customers’ expectations regarding their preferred brands or products. Consumers are now conditioned to be socially distant, touchless, and masked, so those who can connect their brand to each customer “emotionally” – through digital service, voice technology, and immersive experiences – will be the next change agents of this new marketing universe.

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