How to Market Your Business in an Ongoing Pandemic

Pandemic marketing confusion got you down? Here are some things you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

How to Market Your Business in an Ongoing Pandemic 1

Adopt a media strategy that prioritizes value

This year has seen companies shifting dollars between ad channels as marketers chased lower CPMs and gravitated toward digital channels promising attribution, high ROI and more. In this rush to lower costs, strategy sometimes got left behind. 

As you move into 2021 planning, remember that cheaper is not always synonymous with better value. Channel investments must be driven by their ability to reach the target audience and to move consumers down the purchase funnel as cost-efficiently as possible. Simply focusing on cost-per-touch doesn’t account for the nuances of all channels, and will rarely yield long-term success.

Spend marketing dollars efficiently–but don’t make cost your only metric of success.

Updated messaging guidelines: tone over specifics

The beginning of the pandemic was filled with emotional, heartfelt, soft-piano-soundtracked ads telling consumers that corporations were there for them in “these unprecedented times.”

Now, consumers just want to get on with their lives. If you reference the pandemic in your messaging, ditch the tinkling piano. Tell your customers how your product or service can help them get through this as best they can. Be mindful of how restrictions are (or aren’t) referenced in your ads. Striking the right balance takes skill, but it can be done.

Use common sense to strike the right balance. A recent report by Ace Metrix found that campaigns that included a nod to the pandemic fared slightly better than those that didn’t. The findings also suggest that acknowledging things are different this year without getting into specifics might be the best approach. 

As with any other marketing, consider how your specific audience will react to messaging and make adjustments accordingly.

Capitalize on streaming media booms

Streaming platforms like OTT (sometimes called Connected TV or Advanced TV) exploded as a result of stay-at-home orders. People working from home (or just spending more time there) branched out in their media consumption, causing a 9.5% increase in OTT households as of April 2020, compared to the 6% increase seen in all of 2019. Pair this with the 22% growth of Smart TV purchases, and you’ve got more homes streaming OTT than ever before. (Comscore State of OTT 2020)

While terrestrial radio and streaming audio took an initial hit, these channels are seeing listenership rebound as people cautiously return to their cars for commutes, trips to the store, and other activities. Q4 saw sellouts on both terrestrial radio and streaming platforms as retailers returned to boost their holiday revenues.

Work with your marketing partners or media vendors to see how best to incorporate streaming media into your 2021 marketing plan.

If you have to cut marketing budget, do it strategically

If you’re considering cuts to your marketing budget, you’re not alone. A recent Gartner poll showed that 59% of the CMOs polled expected budget cuts of more than 5%.

These stats are no surprise — marketing budgets are usually the first to hit the chopping block. But there’s a way to strategically shave your budgets that can help set you up for success post-crisis. Rather than applying a blanket 10% cut, identify the channels that yield your highest ROI and cut the costs with the weakest returns. When making cuts also consider which marketing mechanisms will be the toughest to reestablish once budgets have been restored.

Don’t distance yourself from social

212 million people are on social media — and that number continues to grow. Even more relevant to marketers is the growth of time spent with social channels. In 2019, time spent fell by 1.3%. In 2020, time spent with social media networks is projected to grow by 8.8%.

That means your customers are most likely using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and TikTok to help them make purchasing decisions. Figure out how social media marketing fits into your overall plan for 2021, whether it’s paid ads, earned placements, influencer marketing or a mix of all three.

Next steps

As you work through 2021 planning in the face of continued uncertainty, fall back on marketing strategy to inform your tactics. Stay nimble, put your audience first, and most importantly, don’t panic. If you get stuck, reach out.