As lock-downs slowly subside, there are two scenarios to be considered: a slow recovery or prolonged economic contraction. Current consumption polls are not yet indicating the immediate signs of recession behavior, though much depends on how long the current situation will last.
There is still much uncertainty how the new normal will look like. Though it is becoming evident that certain consumption habits like caution and distancing might stay with us for a longer period, even after the situation calms down. We are nevertheless facing a defining moment that will influence how customers behave for months and years to come.
Marketing, as a customer advocate, plays a critical role in shaping company response. Marketers need to be fast and pragmatic, focused on stabilizing business situation right now. Strategic in approach while weathering downturn and already planning for the recovery.
We are all aware that marketing spend optimization is necessary. Yet, we must not take such actions lightly or do it by hart. There is a need to review activity results and check customer insights, leverage market knowledge, and prioritize those activities with higher impact and contribution to the business.
Marketing is expected to deliver revenue, measure the impact, and leverage customer data for the new opportunity generation. We can expect this pressure toward marketing to strengthen in the following weeks, months. That is why it is important for marketing to take decisive actions and try to minimize the need for investment cuts through its allocation toward those activities that are expected to deliver the highest contribution and impact short-term.
It is time for marketing to step-up, gain higher attention, demonstrate professional know-how, and deliver strengthened value.
Find savings without sacrificing experience
In a downturn, cutting costs is inevitable. But that doesn’t have to come at the expense of a good customer experience that creates substantial value. The sooner that companies can fulfill new customer needs and accelerate time to market, the better the return.
Building agility across functions, to handle changing customer circumstances, is necessary and will have long-lasting benefits. Introduce a test-and-scale approach and allow the creation of new experiences with a quick release to market. Prioritize innovations that fit with remote, digital, or home delivery trends that are likely to accelerate and continue to differentiate in our new reality.
Once you have dealt with the fallout
you need to take a step back and re-think the future. Select best practices, collect and learn from customer insights, leverage customer data collected in recent months.
Prioritization is a challenging process. Imagine you have only 60, 30 days, or only a week to demonstrate contribution. What activities would you stop executing, as they are not delivering the desired impact? Which new ideas would you launch? What would you change in terms of execution to better target and scale?
Marketing connecting business and their customers
Marketers need to be ready to capture mindshare and demand from customer insights and professional knowledge. Experience dictates that forward-thinking leaders will release the long-term spend after short-term budget cuts. In doing so, they will rethink how to best use the tools and capabilities while connecting with their customers.
Much has been learned from the existing situation. Many businesses have also realized they are not as digital as they thought they were. In these instances, marketing will get a green light to invest in digital tools and capabilities, to upgrade the analytics engines. Investment in data and analytics significantly improves the ability to better personalize offers to customers, prioritize sales pipeline, and improve sales activities.
Capture the early demand
To be ready for demand when it picks up, marketing needs to develop clear strategies based on customers' expectations and information about what they value. The point is to develop modular scenarios for multiple versions of the future. Define actions and tactics robust enough to enable adaptation and proper scaling.
Sometimes there will be a need to unbundle your current offer, make a shift of your pricing model to recurring revenue or subscription model, or simply to lower up-front fees to attract new customers. The added value should be considered as a key differentiator. Don't forget to closely monitor customer reactions with the offering, so you can adapt.
Customer behaviors are adapting and evolving constantly. Therefore, it is important to understand what customers will need and want in the future. Constant learning and innovation are key, to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances.