Analysts and business people are going to be talking about 2020 for a long time. Beyond the pandemic itself, the effects on the global economy are undeniable and we will likely need several years to fully recover as industries see what a post pandemic marketplace looks like. One of the hardest sectors hit in the “lost year” was the marketing department.
Marketing, as you know, is a tricky thing. You need to build a relationship with your customer base. Time is spent crafting a message that is designed to reach as broad an audience as possible while remaining relatable and authentic. Months of planning and scheduling and, for those with the budget and need, media buying. So when there is a sudden blip in the cycle, say a global pandemic, that completely changes the status quo overnight what happens to all that planning, scheduling, and purchased time? We all found out in 2020 and it wasn’t pretty.
First, let’s take a quick look at the immediate aftermath with the small amount of hindsight we have in the first six months of 2021.
1. Marketing Budgets were the first to be cut.
As soon as it became clear that the world would be different in April 2020 than it was in February 2020 advertisements changed and marketing budgets were chopped to stop any hemorrhaging. Companies would eventually pivot, but that came later.
2. Traditional Advertising Got Hit Worst.
Things like television advertising fell by 33% and out-of-home advertising fell by 39%. Experiential marketing fell by a whopping 80%! *1 No one expected what was working before February 2020 to work during the pandemic.
And these effects could last for years, with marketing budgets expected to decline over the next two to three years depending on GDP growth. *1 But enough of “the end is nigh!” talk, we’re looking for solutions. Here are three things to do as we manage the current advertising status quo.
1. Remain Agile
Reallocating funds is always a part of a marketing manager’s bag of tricks, but never more than in 2020. You can see in the stats above that money was moved out of traditional media, but where did it go? The answer is digital. Being agile was the best, if only, response to the sudden shift and marketers that were able to be agile rolled with any budget change better. Digital advertising offers quick, flexible, measurable marketing often at lower costs. And the best part is that campaigns that don’t perform can be paused with the click of a button. Advertising has been moving toward the digital space for a while, but the pandemic accelerated adoption significantly. Certainly we’ll see a return to some traditional media in the future, but until then digital appears to be king.
2. It’s Time to Experiment
Growth Marketing expert Jess Bahr said on a recent podcast, “We don’t have historical data anymore.”*2 And she’s right. Marketers have grown accustomed to the big data that’s been available at our fingertips, but none of that data reflects buyer behavior in times of massive upheaval. Even a year later we’re just starting to get meaningful, measurable data. This opens up the opportunity to experiment. Now is the best time to find out what is going to work and what that means for the future. Is it time for social media engagement with customer created content? Is it time to tap an influencer? Both of these are growing in popularity with marketers and brands to help provide an authentic experience to their audience. It’s time to test, learn, and optimize. This is marketing 101 stuff, but we are legitimately back to a 101 place and nearly everyone is starting at square one.
3. Search Ads – The New Default
Influence Marketing Hub forecasts that Search Ad Spending will surpass pre pandemic numbers by 2022. With buyer behavior still manifesting online, search is a part of every consumer’s life regardless of whether or not they are actively shopping. With context marketing coming to the forefront, having your product appear with relevant searches almost guarantees more eyeballs than traditional marketing can promise, with better targeting. As with other digital options mentioned in this article, search ads are an affordable way to present your product to consumers. And, as we mentioned in The Customer is Dead! Long Live the Customer!, consumer behavior is settling into online purchasing as the preferred way to buy. If you’ve been avoiding search ads before, there’s no better time to start.
These are just a few suggestions, but there’s so much more we could talk about. We are in the middle of a massive change to the marketing space. As the world begins to open up the only constant will be more change. If you need help with your digital marketing give us a call, it’s what we do.