March 26, 2020
What marketers need to know now
Written by Anthony Juliano and David Goode
Like just about every other organization, Asher’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic was to prioritize the well being of our team members, their families, our clients, and all the valued partners who keep our business up and running. However, as things have stabilized a bit (if we can call the current situation “stable”), we’ve turned our attention to the rapidly changing marketing environment and how it affects our clients. Here’s a quick look at what we believe marketers should be focused on now in order to prepare themselves for the near term:
Data is more important than ever before. As the economy slows, every transaction will matter even more. It’s critical, therefore, to closely monitor your analytics and respond appropriately. You want to be sure the data is statistically significant before making any major changes, of course, but this isn’t a time for guesswork. Consumer behavior is going to be a little harder to predict as we continue to travel through uncharted waters, but your data can help you better understand what your audience is thinking.
Media consumption is high. More eyeballs and ears are focused on social media and the news during any crisis. The coronavirus pandemic is different, however, because it’s so long-lasting. This will fade slowly over time, but we’re all becoming conditioned, at least somewhat, to pay closer attention to what’s happening locally and globally. This is mostly good news for marketers, but there’s also more competition for attention than ever before.
Speaking of consumer behavior, it will be critical to carefully consider the messages you’re putting out in the world. Consumers need information about how to keep themselves safe, but they can become fatigued by well-meaning-but-over-played coronavirus email blasts and social media posts. Also, messages appearing to leverage the pandemic for monetary gain will have a tremendously negative impact on your brand. That sounds obvious, but a quick glance at our email inboxes says that maybe it’s less obvious than it should be. Also, content that conveys optimism will provide lift to your brand, as long as your message is relevant. There’s a lot of bad news out there, and there’s a presidential election yet to come this year, so positive messages will likely stand out.
Advertising supply is greater than demand. Many businesses are not in a position to invest additional dollars in advertising, which is understandable given the rapid economic downturn. Those that are, however, will get a higher return on their investment. In short, it’s a buyer’s market.
While things are certainly challenging right now, opportunities lie ahead. One of the things that makes us optimistic at Asher is all the innovation and learning we’ve seen over the past week (“If I can work with a baby on my arm and a cat on my lap,” one of our team members said, “then I can do anything!”) It’s a good time to consider, therefore, where your industry is headed and what opportunities will emerge in the coming months.
Here are a few examples of what we’ll see in terms of opportunities in a few of the primary industries we serve:
- Higher ed will see an even greater shift toward online learning and a potential influx of adult learners needing to retrain for new careers. However, price sensitivity will increase proportionally with any economic downturn. Focus on providing an exceptional online experience, share testimonials from students about how you helped them succeed in a changing environment, and carefully manage expenses so you can compete in the long run.
- QSR is obviously laser focused on drive-through and delivery right now, and the latter is where we expect to see the most lasting change. The increased utilization of delivery services during the pandemic will have a lasting impact on consumer decision making. Delivery is the new drive-through.
- Consumer appreciation for healthcare is at an all-time high, and branding will become more important than ever. Families will consider which brands are most innovative, caring and prepared—and they will align themselves accordingly.
As things continue to change, we’ll continue to keep our clients up to date on what they can expect. For now, stay safe, try to enjoy the additional time with your family (and that cat on your lap), and let us know how we can help.