In Part 1 of the Navigating COVID-19 Series Finale, hosts Rachel Tipograph (CEO & Founder of MikMak) and Anda Gansca (CEO & Co-Founder of Knotch) were joined by panelists from TIME, Accenture, Ad Council, Plan A, SAP, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Eli Lilly and Company. As the series came to a close, panelists reflected on how they’ve handled the pandemic so far and described how they are moving forward on the road ahead. Here’s what they had to say:
Develop marketing strategies for the next 90 days
When it comes to planning and strategizing for the future, panelists noted that while they once took things day by day, it’s now starting to feel more week by week. However, although some marketing leaders were optimistic about vaccines coming out early, one panelist cautioned against forming plans that are contingent upon this occurrence. “Nobody has clear visibility into the future.” Brands may still need to plan in 90 day increments with constant reevaluation, under the assumption that there may not be a clear end to COVID-19 for the remainder of the year.
How have these marketing strategies changed? Several panelists described spending less on mass multichannel marketing. They noted that mass marketing was about generating massive demand, while they were strategizing to generate growth, which required more targeted investments. One panelist explained that his brand “doubled down on performance marketing for online social while cutting down on mass marketing.”
How are events and travel budgets impacting your marketing mix?
Regardless of how to plan and what is to come, panelists have all experienced significant impact on marketing planning due to the reduced feasibility of events and business travel. With cancelled events, some marketing leaders have budget freed up while others have to adjust their eCommerce strategy to compensate for the loss.
One panelist was adjusting spending toward investing in new digital strategies. As everything switched to online, many brands have switched to virtual events. Today, there are a plethora of available virtual events for brands to leverage as part of their adjusted eCommerce strategy. Brands are evaluating the value of each event as they build out their digital event portfolio, taking care to avoid repetitive routines and strategies. Marketing leaders have the freedom to be more scrutinizing about their events investment, and to leverage them in increasingly impactful ways. As for business travel, one panelist shared that this budgetary reallocation may last beyond the pandemic. “I don't see us giving back a huge budget for travel once this is over.”
Adjusting your messaging and business to be in service
A recurring theme for many brands has been shifting priorities and values to be centered on people as they navigate COVID, and that has materialized in a variety of ways. For some panelists, providing access and information has been the highest priority. One panelist gave an example of making certain articles and resources that were previously only available on print available digitally free of cost. “We made it free because we were really focused on where we could help as a first priority.”
For brands in the pharmaceutical industry, their role in helping people has been more important than ever. One panelist mentioned how her company has switched some of their labs into testing facilities, and their employees spend their free time volunteering for the testing center. Her company worked with the CDC to get fact based messaging to the public focusing on high risk communities, supporting efforts of food banks, and sending messages targeting struggling parents. She acknowledged that this may come at the cost of market share but her brand has decided that now is not the time to worry about competition and brand loyalty. Brands are focused on doing good during this time, and people will remember which brands were present and active during this pandemic.
Our Navigating COVID Weekly Roundtable series is over, but we will continue to provide insights from our panelists in the weeks to come. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date!