Marketing in the time of coronavirus – better news than you’re expecting

It’s no secret that coronavirus has shaken up the world of business. Everyone, apart from key workers, is working from home and each newspaper is speculating on the long-term economic impact coronavirus will have. Dragonfly happily sat in on the Marketing Week webinar with Mark Ritson to hear his take on how marketing will or won’t be changed by coronavirus – and its better news than you’re expecting.

Ritson said that the impact coronavirus is having has split businesses into three distinct sections:  flex, fix and freeze.

Flex – These are businesses that are doing well as a result of the pandemic. In this section you will find supermarkets, delivery services or online fitness instructors. Sainsbury’s is a great example of a flex business.

Fix – These are businesses that need to shift their strategy if they want to keep their business moving. In this category you’ll find businesses like local shops moving to e-commerce and delivery, or garden centres which traditionally have heavy footfall and will need to move online to sell their perishable plants. Any local pub or shop that has now shifted their offering to include online sales and delivery would fit in the fix category.

Freeze – In this section is every business that has been forced to shut down and cease operating, and there isn’t a lot they can do to shift their strategy to bring in revenue in a new way and they are non-essential. For example, McDonalds shut its doors and ceased operating as they are non-essential and cannot justify staying open.

Ritson advised on ways to carry your business through this period, how to identify new opportunities and, most importantly, what not to do. Here were the key takeaways

1. Focus on the four Ps. Most marketing departments today focus too much on promotion, but businesses that look at all four have been able to change their product, price or place to benefit themselves and their consumers. Some great examples were Uber Eats, Meny and Woolworths Place.

2. Don’t focus too much on your own brand. Ritson pointed out that the influx of emails from CEOs can make them seem disingenuous and that people, generally, don’t care about your brand. For example, McDonald’s Brazil’s publicity stunt in separating their arches came off as superficial and was berated online.

3. Don’t buy into false pneuma, in Ritson’s opinion, coronavirus isn’t going to change the world forever. While things might change in the short term, Ritson believes that people will go back to doing the things they used to do before, don’t focus on changing your long-term goals, focus on the here and now.

4. The one way to maintain long term growth during a recession is by investing in marketing. Ritson provided examples of businesses who invested in marketing during past recessions. The businesses that maintained or increased their marketing spend saw a massive increase in long term profits when compared to those who pulled funding.

At the end of the day, we ought to focus our energy on what’s not going to change. Build a business strategy on what is stable, focus on good advertising and don’t buy into the ads that promise prosperity despite a recession! Marketing will be what carries us through. If you are looking to diversify your marketing plan and would like to discuss direct marketing, please get in touch. We’d love to help.