As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect day to day life and increase the uncertainty of the foreseeable future, so does the need to be more flexible than ever with our marketing initiatives. We need to build plans that allow for rapid changes and foster a culture of innovation that will provide us with the agility to adapt and succeed when the circumstances change, as they undoubtedly will.
A flexible and balanced approach often proves to be the most successful, by improving operational efficiency rather than slashing employee numbers, developing new business opportunities through R&D and marketing investments rather than cutting budgets and tools, and/or carefully planning any defensive moves and not over-reacting. Just 9% of more than 4,700 companies reviewed through the past 3 global recessions have managed to emerge as market leaders a few years later. They all shared similar strategies, in that they:
- Used the opportunity to improve their operational efficiency
- Took the chance to develop new markets
- Invested in existing and new businesses during the tough times, taking advantage of better deals
- Stayed connected to customer needs
Only a few months into the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen companies start to make similar moves. For example, fashion giant Inditex accelerated their shift to eCommerce, putting $1B behind this transformation. They decided to substantially reduce their physical retail presence and transform their brick-and-mortar footprint into a click & collect, online, fulfillment-friendly infrastructure. It’s more than likely that this strategy will prove successful not just for this holiday season, but also for the future.
How can we apply this agility inspired knowledge to our marketing budgets? For a start, make them flexible: prepare to shift away from initiatives that aren’t performing, moving them towards efforts that are better for ROAS, given the ongoing changes in spending and media consumer habits. It’s also a great time to invest in better tools to help you understand what’s happening in real time. With tools driven by artificial intelligence, like VidMob’s Creative Intelligence, you’ll be empowered to make agile decisions about your creative assets, continually optimizing for performance and enabling your dollars to go further.
What might this look like in your organization? If people are still not going to shops in the same numbers as before, can you rapidly deploy POS budgets towards e-Commerce? When new platforms emerge as the winners for people’s time and attention, are your teams ready to leverage them as a best-in-class leader from a technical, media and creative standpoint? How much red tape would your company have to cut through in order to quickly pivot to those new opportunities?
Through this three-part series, we have looked at how crisis can be a catalyst and an opportunity for growth, how looking at the challenges of the past can guide us to success in the present, and how embracing the evolution of digital innovation with an agile mindset can help us always be prepared in changing times. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way:
- Going dark doesn’t work: decreasing your advertising budget substantially during times of crisis typically results in both short and long term declines in revenue and brand share.
- A decline in competition and costs can be used by fast-moving brands to gain market share that would be much harder to achieve if everything remained unchanged.
- Harnessing the power of data and making sure all your teams share and use the same high-quality information is key to success.
- Now that creative assets can be analyzed with the same rigor as other areas of the business, taking advantage of new and improved data capabilities can give your advertising performance a boost without added media budget.
- Agility and flexibility are essential in order to allow your organization to react to a fast-changing reality and leverage new opportunities as soon as they become available.
As we highlighted in the second part of this series, 70% of performance is rooted in creative, so that’s a massive lever you can pull during complex times. Have you made creative assets as accountable and data-based as the rest of your organization, like your digital marketing team does with media and performance metrics? By planning and building smart creative that can be modified & optimized rapidly based on data, you’ll never be caught with assets that are not fit for purpose or unable to leverage a growth opportunity. If you’re looking for guidance or need help getting started with this, we’re here to help.