20 Mar Three Ways to Guide Your Marketing Team Through The COVID-19 Crisis
As marketers, we are planners. Although we know the best-laid plans often go awry, it’s the unfortunate truth that many of our marketing plans are simply out the window right now. We are in a global pandemic, an unprecedented situation with an intensity doubling roughly every two days as our communities, our families, our legislators, and our businesses collectively rush to contend with this new reality.
To protect ourselves and each other, this crisis demands teamwork on a uniquely large scale and, to protect our employees and our companies, it demands deliberate fluidity in leadership to steer our brands responsibly through these uncharted waters. While remaining responsible, we must also do our best not to panic.
The best way to guide our teams through the COVID-19 crisis is to stay focused on the strategic areas still within our control. While we all have unique goals, we still share in fundamentals – and it’s those fundamentals we can trust to guide us through to the other side of this crisis.
1) Think long term.
Consumer needs are shifting quickly, and we need to respond to that shift on a near-daily basis right now. As we respond, we must do so in a way that looks forward not only into the coming weeks but into the coming months and quarters.
There is an opportunity right now to refine our framework for customer centricity, to make sure the way we put our customers first is both responsive and scalable. We – all humans – are in this global crisis together, and now is the time to reestablish the priority of our customers’ needs as a way to support their long term relationship with our brands.
A practical way to accomplish this is to break our planning into smaller time frames. This allows us to stay responsive with our marketing efforts, without sacrificing long term impact. Instead of quarterly plans, allow for the flexibility of weekly or biweekly plans, and adjust targets realistically to acknowledge that immediate return on investment might fall latent until the COVID-19 crisis stabilizes.
This is a time for upper-funnel initiatives and secondary KPIs to shine: by planning against the longtail, we have an opportunity to strengthen how we’re cultivating customer interest and loyalty not only today but across the complete customer lifecycle.
2) Know your numbers.
Marketing thrives at the intersection of relationship and science, and to make sure our responsiveness positively impacts customer relationship we have to know our numbers.
Now is the time to reexamine our measurement, to make sure the analytics foundation we have in place gives us the real-time insight we need to make impactful decisions quickly.
Many of us marketers are up against uncertain or diminished budgets right now, but a practical way to accomplish this is to focus on optimizing the tools we already have to help us better understand real performance. It’s especially important at this time to build a meaningful view of the customer journey because customer engagement with our brands today is quickly diverging from the known engagement patterns we trusted even a few short weeks ago.
Visibility into how our customers’ journeys are changing allows our brands to respond more impactfully to this changing environment, to tailor messaging to be more relevant to evolving customer needs, and to support our long term goal of sustaining healthy customer relationship that ties through to longtail revenue.
As an analytics-first consultancy, DELVE is helping to personally support our industry right now by offering a free comprehensive Google Analytics audit to brands who need immediate help better understanding their numbers.
3) Tighten media control.
We’re in an incredibly unique position right now: with homebound customers, the opportunity for one-to-one dialogue is at an all-time high. However, market uncertainty means many of our brands are currently obligated to do more with less. This is challenging, but an opportunity to reevaluate our current media strategy – both in terms of return on investment and in terms of how effectively our strategy supports personalization and loyalty cultivation.
Consolidating our media efforts – for tighter control overreach, frequency, and bidding – and personalizing our messaging to meet our customers where they are is paramount right now to make sure our media efforts are efficient, timely, and effectively building customer trust during a time of unease.
A practical way to accomplish this is to work with our agencies and in-house teams to openly assess current media tactics and technologies. Shifting to an integrated strategy and solution that supports better media efficiency, better personalization, and clearer insight into impact can be a quick and low-cost way to gain the precise control over media that we need right now to drive more powerful results with the budgets we currently have.
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, and there is no playbook for how best to navigate this unfamiliar situation. But as marketers, we are planners, which is a unique skill set that allows us to refocus in uncertain times on the fundamentals we know have served us well in the past. Now is the time to double down on putting our customers first, to focus on strong analytics to make sure our customer-centric initiatives are driving measurable and long term impact, and to refine our media control to make sure our campaigns are hitting the mark in terms of personalization, efficiency, and longtail return on investment.