Marketing and Advertising through COVID-19

As Coronavirus continues to take hold across the globe, marketing and advertising seem like the absolute least of the worlds worries. But to the marketing and business world decisions are having to be made about how they trade through this crisis and come out of the other side intact.

The first and obvious reaction is to panic. Pull everything. Anything which isn’t currently committed and immovable gets stopped. And even if it is planned, booked, even paid for questions are asked about the penalty for cancelling it. Every company is looking are their cost base with forensic attention to detail.

In the agency world every phone call and email from clients over the last month was met with dread as clients rushed to cancel campaigns or planned activity.

I’ve seen marketers challenge this approach. ‘Businesses should be marketing through this crisis!’ And whilst this might be true of some, it takes no account for broader considerations. Supply chains, stock availability, customer cancellations or payment defaults, logistics, management of services during a lockdown, not to mention cashflow.

So, what should businesses be doing?

Broader considerations aside, and assuming a business has the facility to market through the current coronavirus epidemic, how should they go about it? 

One factor to base decisions on which is applicable for all industries is demand. Demand will have been affected in some way across the board. The extent to which though will vary, and the demand after this is through will also be different for all.

Rather than look at industries or business circumstances, I have tried to group business based on this impact on demand. How was it before the COVID-19 crisis, and how is it now?  By doing this we can try and put some information around how they can approach marketing and advertising in a period until the world stabilises. At this point the approach shifts again, to what demand looks like in the future.

The diagram below shows how I would approach it. I have ignored the quadrant where demand pre-COVID19 was low and during it is low because this is probably a much bigger issue to address. And then grouped quadrants where the overall approach would be similar.

This is obviously a simplistic way at looking at the challenges facing marketers during this time, but at least by taking a top-level approach you then have something to apply on a channel by channel basis.

How are you approaching marketing and advertising during this uncertain time?

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