The lockdown and the uncertainty it brings has seen a need for creative and innovative marketing that addresses the fears and realities of the pandemic — all while showcasing the solutions and services that can give customers a sense of normality.
Marketing strategies from before the crisis have had to be adapted — some torn up and scrapped — while others have forced a reset and a reimagination of how marketing will work during and post-COVID-19.
Marketing is transforming and changing at a speed never seen before. Strategies and plans made in 2019 or at the beginning of 2020 have had to be changed. Just like industries have had to find a new way of doing business, marketing has had to transform and pivot.
The coronavirus impacts everything — every brand, every industry and every other aspect of 'normal' life. We cannot ignore that and simply believe that the same methods we used in business and marketing before the pandemic will work during this time.
In the book The Future Is Faster Than You Think
by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, the thesis is that when it comes to tech breakthroughs, we have only just begun.
We are seeing it in online learning, we are seeing it in the increase in automation to safeguard employees and we are seeing it in the use of tech to reshape post-COVID cities.
There is a sense amongst marketers that they are at the forefront of reshaping their brands to ensure they not only survive the COVID-19 crisis but also the economic one.
Some have compared this time to the global financial crisis of 2008, when there was fear in the economy around the world. Here, those companies who implemented necessary change and continued with clever marketing came out of the recession better prepared to thrive.
BCX recently launched a new PR-driven campaign during lockdown with the first TVC flighting on Monday, 11 May. The campaign focuses on how great innovation thrives in hard times, with South Africans being at the forefront of showing how necessity is the mother of great inventions.
Messaging needs to be empathetic to the feeling of the time and deeply aware of the emotions and needs of customers. Marketing that preys on the fears of the public can, and has, backfired spectacularly.
You need to have a strong sense of the sentiment this pandemic has wrought and tailor your marketing to that. You should also have a sense of the trauma that companies are going through as they pivot their ways of working and restructure internally.
These are incredibly difficult times for business leaders who have worked in a certain way for all or most of their lives. Now they have staff working remotely and have shifted more towards e-commerce than ever before.
This pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in Africa (a very necessary transformation) and transformation is never easy. Globally, the growing awareness of social justice with the '#MeToo' and '#BlackLivesMatter' movements have contributed to a consumer base looking to the messaging of brands around these issues.
Some brands that have not read the room correctly have seen a backlash on social media and boycotts of products. Marketing is, now perhaps more than ever, not just about selling products and services; it is about being seen to take a strong moral stance.
Facebook's share price dropped 8% after the likes of Unilever, Coca-Cola, Ben and Jerry's suspended their ad spend on social media to protest how they moderated hate speech.
"We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners," says Coca-Cola CEO James Quincy.
The Covid-19 crisis has intensified the need for clever, well-structured, innovative and well-meaning marketing. This period of time has changed everything across all facets of society. Marketing is not only just a part of that but perhaps the leading aspect of building the 'new normal'.
We are learning all the time. We have learnt that we can take decisions a lot quicker and smarter. Plans can change quickly. You sometimes have to go with gut feel and instinct, as well as marketing data and analytics.
The world is going through something of a reboot. Marketing has also had a bit of a reset and will be all the stronger for it.
For more information, visit www.bcx.co.za