Marketing in the COVID-19 World – Part 2: Plan

Welcome to the second entry in Viva’s 3-part series, “Marketing in the COVID-19 World”, designed to help decision makers navigate these choppy waters. The first installment focused on the adjustments marketers must make to weather the storm. We talked about ensuring your brand messages and marketing add value, not noise. We challenged you to find an authentic way to serve during the pandemic. Read it here: PART 1: ADJUST.

The world has changed since you developed your 2020 Marketing Plan. Duhhhhh

Toss the data about media habits and messaging. Consider your customer personas out of date. COVID-19 has changed everything.

Social distancing and working from home have changed consumer behavior and as a consequence, business results. Some behavior changes may be temporary, but many may be permanent, such as the momentum behind digital-first solutions. Buying groceries online, attending live-streamed workout classes and joining virtual happy hours are popular examples. 

It’s time to plan for re-engagement. 

Where do you begin?

Step #1: Start with new, post-COVID-19 business goals.
The assumptions you used to develop your 2020 business goals pre-COVID-19 are no longer appropriate — so your goals need to change too. And, probably by a lot.

Marketing’s “job” is to implement activities that drive business to achieve your business goals. You can’t be effective without goals and metrics. 

Haven’t updated your business goals yet? No problem. Drive the process. You can’t proceed without them. 

Step #2: Fill in the gaps. 
If you conducted the brand audit we recommended in Part 1 of this series then you’ve deleted or adjusted marketing initiatives that may appear to be insensitive, not funny or mere noise. Where are the gaps? What customer segments are you no longer reaching by eliminating tradeshows from your plan? What messages on your home page need to be tweaked? What products or services deserve more of the limelight? 

Step #3: Include a Plan B.
A contingency plan is mandatory. We don’t normally create best and worst case scenarios when developing marketing plans, but times have changed.

Consumers are opening and interacting with email campaigns at higher rates than pre-COVID-19, but will that last? Direct mail has dropped dramatically as events have been cancelled and businesses shuttered. And, who wants to touch direct mail at least for now? But will that change? Hence the need for a Plan B.

Step #4: Be creative.
Have a B2B business? Transition tradeshow dollars to industry digital and print publications. Selling direct to consumers? Test TV spots before and after the local news. Nielsen reports that news viewing in the top 25 markets was up 6.9% in early March. Dating apps have to be creative as restaurants and bars are closed. Kudos to them for encouraging digital dates and offering video chat options for users looking to meet that special someone during quarantine. 

Step #5: Be inclusive.
Your new & improved plans must include input from your customer service and sales teams, customers via social media, and business partners. There’s no room for error in messaging or tone. Solicit and listen to the feedback you receive during the planning process. 

Stay tuned for part 3 on Re-engaging in this series: Marketing in the COVID-19 World.

Uber tops the list with this skillfully developed and produced video encouraging people NOT to use its service:

Nike is a close second with its #PlayForTheWorld campaign where it rallies sports fans to ‘Play Inside, Play for the World’. Here’s the print ad:

Laura Sheridan
Laura Sheridan, Founder & President of Viva La Brand has a proven track record of effective branding and advertising, spanning over twenty five years with some of the best in the business: Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago; Hill, Holliday and Polaroid in Boston; and, Progressive Insurance and Viva La Brand in Cleveland. Laura founded Viva La Brand to offer large and small organizations alike strategic marketing expertise to catapult their visibility, growth and profitability. Viva La Brand develops effective brand strategies and conducts ad agency searches that successfully match clients with the optimal ad agency partners. Laura is proud to work with smart, innovative leader Brands in a wide range of industries from health care to manufacturing to technology and financial services. In addition to her work with clients, Laura is an author and speaker on all topics related to Brand.
More articles by: Laura Sheridan
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