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How should businesses handle marketing spend?
When crisis hits, it is natural for companies to shift to survival mode and cut costs, and a common response is to cut the marketing budget. Despite this, we know brands that maintain marketing
spend during a crisis not only increase sales and market share, but this impact lasts for several years.
During the economic recession of the 1990s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to cut advertising spend. They increased sales by 61 per cent and 40 per cent respectively,
while McDonald’s sales declined by 28 per cent.
As the adage goes, “when times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
What strategy should businesses be taking?
Whether maintaining or reducing your budget, you still need to revisit your messaging to reflect the shared challenges. With Covid-19, consumer behaviour and attitudes have changed, effective
communications underpinned by a robust strategy has never been more important.
Remember, everything is developing so quickly on the daily – you may need to change communications you had and have already planned.
KFC were quick to pull an ad in the UK which focused on “finger-licking” amid complaints that it was inappropriate at a time when good hand hygiene is critical.
We recommend the following steps:
- Scenario Planning - Have your statements on each stage, for example returning to work, ready for your internal and external stakeholders.
- Start planning your Q4 campaigns - it’s the busiest time of year for marketers so plan now!
- Focus on long-term brand building because that investment will ultimately support recovery.
- Prepare a robust Business Continuity Plan that will take you from now, to business as usual.
- Review your plan and messaging and assign teams for communicating internal and external communications.
- Identify a leader who coordinates the company’s response incorporating all areas.
- Look at having two teams – one focusing on the now and one on the post Covid-19 phase.
What media are audiences consuming right now?
Statistics show that digital media usage is significantly up since the crisis began so my advice would be to look at your online presence first and then work your way through your traditional marketing
- Review your Website
- Update and refresh your content
- Create a web banner that informs visitors about the changes to your business.
- Update opening hours on your website and search engines
- Can you rebrand your messaging to make it warmer and more welcoming?
- Do you welcome new visitors to the site?
- Setup or Review your Google Analytics
- Monitor and analyse the visitor journey and user behaviour
- Are your users interacting as expected? If not, adjust your content accordingly, and test!
- Use Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to identify the high intent searches of your target audiences
What advice do you have to businesses as a whole when it comes to marketing?
Have empathy, be human, be calm, reflect – find the right ways to behave when communicating – be balanced. Forget about Returning Back, it’s time to Bounce Forward!