How Marketers Can Respond Successfully to Abrupt Market Changes During COVID-19

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In this article, Mirko Holzer, CEO of BrandMaker discusses, the impact on businesses due to Coronavirus outbreak. The businesses have to assess their campaigns, plans and budget exposures in order to adjust to a dramatically changing go-to-market landscape and to re-calibrate their pipeline creation strategies.

The Coronavirus outbreak has had a massive impact on business activities of companies worldwide. Marketing and communications are also all affected. The events industry alone has already reported massive losses due to the postponement and cancellation of trade shows and conferences.

However, the loss of extensive live marketing or communications opportunities, which often cannot be replaced by other marketing measures, and the resulting lost sales potential is only one of many problems that companies face in the course of COVID-19.

The spectrum of challenges in marketing for which solutions must be found in the short term is enormous. It ranges from the abrupt change in consumer behavior of millions of consumers, which, depending on the product, leads from stockpiling (with corresponding stock and delivery bottlenecks) to mass cancellations of planned trips, to the sudden change of shopping channels from stationary to online trading.

This has a massive impact also on campaigns and advertising. Companies needs to shift their strategies and budgets to products which are now important for daily life at home, e.g., food, entertainment.

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It goes without saying that the management of such a crisis situation is hardly possible without an efficient organization and automation of marketing processes. Marketing teams have a lot of considerations given the current business climate, including:

1. Review of Short-Term Budget Shifts and Realignment

Marketing activities have to be rescheduled on short notice, but is there still a budget available for alternative measures and how much? What does this look like at a country and product level for global companies? For organizations, central budget planning provides a real-time overview of all marketing expenses that have been committed and already paid worldwide. This allows marketers to identify appropriate room for maneuvering and reallocating budgets quickly and easily without breaking the overall cost framework due to a lack of transparency. 

2. Quick Adjustment of Campaign Plans

Global markets and product sales are collapsing, communication platforms and channels are disappearing, target groups are changing their media usage behavior, and planned and already launched campaigns are threatening to run into nothing from one minute to the next. With automated campaign planning, new marketing measures and projects can be set up and implemented quickly and flexibly. All jobs run through the workflow predefined in the system, so that processes and the use of resources are efficient, even for decentralized marketing teams. For example, the marketing print can be adapted locally or online marketing measures can be carried out instead of live marketing or offline activities.

3. Changes to Content and Assets

Exceptional situations make special demands on marketing and communication. Campaign content and messages are suddenly put to the test and often have to be completely changed, not least in terms of language and visuals. Marketers must enable a lean creation of (new) content with external service providers such as agencies, avoid compliance and versioning problems and accelerate production processes through automated approval processes.

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4. Fast Global Delivery of New Brand-Compliant Marketing Materials

Brand management is indispensable, especially for internationally operating companies in times of crisis. Important for all short-term measures taken: global brand conformity. Brand portals enable simple and fast local adaptation of marketing materials for the various markets, target groups and communication channels, which can then be individualized by for the respective customer communication. The central distribution of the marketing materials via a technology platform ensures that the sales department always and everywhere communicates in line with the brand and plan globally.

5. Real-Time Response to Marketing Performance of Activities

How well does “crisis marketing” work, do the individual measures work, what are their benefits and where do they need to be adjusted? With reporting tools, marketing managers and other decision-makers are given a 360-degree view of all marketing activities and their KPIs and use analytical dashboards to identify the potential for marketing optimization in order to reduce costs and effort.

In crisis situations, strategic marketing plans and related technology resources are a decisive competitive factor. Those who can master complexity and react quickly with agility and in line with the market will stay on the marketing success track even by abrupt market changes.