The COVID-19 pandemic has brought change at breakneck speed. Existing trends in consumer behaviour have accelerated, and years of change have taken place in weeks and months. People’s priorities have shifted, and businesses need to adapt their marketing plans to meet consumer needs.
The habits and behaviours picked up during the pandemic are likely here to stay. Around 75% of people using digital channels for the first time state that they will continue to use them when we return to “normal.” With digital adoption at an all-time high, companies need to reassess how they market their products and services and adjust to secure a stronger market position.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
It’s more important than ever to have a clear vision of where you are headed and how you will get there. That’s why businesses need both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. A marketing strategy is an overarching approach and vision for achieving a competitive advantage, and a marketing plan is a roadmap to get there.
The strategy ensures alignment behind a shared vision and that everyone understands the target audience and the value proposition. Once the strategy is established, the marketing plan details how SEO, SEM, social media, and other marketing channels will help you to achieve the vision.
Every marketing plan should have achievable and timely goals that contribute to the success of the marketing strategy.
With the lasting impact of 2020 , many businesses are reassessing their marketing plans, but the marketing strategy remains the same for most. Over 60% of marketers are altering their short-term media strategy (marketing plan), but only 9% are making changes to their long-term goals (marketing strategy).
How to Address Necessary Changes in the Marketing Plan?
The global pandemic has shown how quickly things can change and how important it is to be agile and flexible to trends in consumer behaviour. An economic slowdown is around the corner, and the rapid development of digital technologies means innovation and new competitors are a constant threat.
Keeping a close eye on your business market is vital for anticipating change and quickly adapting the marketing plan. You can use official government impact assessments, local authorities, and market reports to find out about changes to your market.
It’s also essential to monitor your competitors and your internal business and marketing performance. If you fail to meet key performance indicators (KPIs), you need to determine why before you can effectively respond. Competitive analysis can help you to find out how other businesses in your industry have changed their marketing plans, and if there is an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
The key to success and long-term growth and profitability is how you predict and react to change.
Now is not the time to cut marketing budgets entirely. While most businesses are looking at how savings can be made, making excessive cuts can cause long-term damage to growth. Studies from the 2008 global financial crisis show that companies that scaled back on sales and marketing activities during the recession saw 3x less growth than their competitors in the following years.
Rather than scaling back on all marketing and sales activities, business owners should evaluate marketing campaigns and make informed decisions based on return on investment.
The Growth Share Matrix is an effective framework for analyzing the success of your marketing campaigns to make informed budget allocation decisions. You can find out how to create a Growth Share Matrix for your business by reading this guide.
It’s easy to fall into a short-sighted view of individual campaign success rather than viewing your marketing activities as a whole. The Growth Share Matrix framework helps you see the bigger picture by comparing your marketing initiatives and how they contribute to your short-term goals and long-term growth. With these insights, you’ll be able to adapt your marketing plan and determine which channels deserve more or less budget.
Review Creative Content to Match the Present Demand
COVID-19 has massively disrupted creative content publishing schedules. As the lives of consumers have changed, so have their priorities. Audiences are not thinking about the same things they were pre-pandemic. Businesses need to make sure the content they publish matches the current circumstances and consumer demand.
The international cycling equipment brand Ekoï is an example of how companies can pivot their content strategy to match the present demand. Ekoï offers a range of clothing and equipment for road cyclists and mountain bikers around the globe. With social distancing and lockdown measures introduced in different countries, the Ekoï marketing team adapted their content output to different audience segments’ needs.
For countries under strict lockdown measures, Ekoï switched its promotion to indoor cycling equipment. They also created live virtual training streams to help their audience through the lockdown and maintain a community connection. Conversions are down for lots of businesses, but by taking steps to build brand trust using your creative content, you will be in a better position when demand returns and sales increase.
Investigate Changes in Media Consumption and Adapt Marketing Channels
Not only have consumer priorities changed, but so have media consumption habits and the use of digital channels. The pandemic has caused a considerable increase in the amount of time spent online, with global online content consumption doubling in 2020. The average time spent per day consuming content across TV, phone, and digital media is now 6 hours and 59 minutes.
Businesses need to determine where their audience is spending time online and adapt their marketing channels accordingly. With many companies cutting budgets and some unable to trade, paid ads have become cheaper, despite more traffic on the internet. A Rakuten Advertising survey shows 44% of online publishers expect year-over-year traffic to exceed pre-pandemic levels over the Christmas period. With consumers spending more time online, there is an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on cheaper advertising costs and larger audiences.
Victoria Plum, the UK-based online bathroom retailer, is an example of a company that has adjusted its marketing plan to changes in media consumption. By increasing its display advertising budget, Victoria Plum has been able to capitalize on cheaper advertising costs and increase website traffic. While sales are down across the industry, they will be better positioned to retarget site visitors when consumer spending increases.
Rather than making a knee-jerk reaction, business owners should adjust their short term marketing plan to support the long-term marketing strategy.
Keeping Pace With the Consumer
The previous 12 months have seen consumer trends expected to evolve over the next decade suddenly become the new normal. With all of the uncertainties of 2020, one thing is clear. Businesses need to adapt their marketing plans to meet the needs of their customers if they are going to succeed.
It’s a time to be data-driven in how you allocate your resources. Cutting budgets and letting your online visibility slip is not going to help with short-term or long-term profitability. While some competitors stagnate, there’s an opportunity for businesses to bring themselves closer to the consumer and forge lasting relationships that fuel growth. If you need help adapting your marketing plan to the new consumer dynamic, check out companies that can help you grow your business sustainably.