Marketing investment in the age of COVID19


The thing about a crisis – economic recession, global pandemic – is that no two are the same, which makes it pretty difficult to know what to do. The only thing we can do is look to experience, and combine it with innovation – two principles that form the basis of any good marketing expert's  thinking.

So while it may seem counter intuitive, one of the key pieces of advice our Fractional CMOs are offering businesses, is not to stop marketing right now, but to look at how to increase your marketing return on investment (ROI).

Depending on where we are in the world, we are at different stages of lockdown or a post-lockdown life. While the first few weeks may have seen a sledgehammer approach to all spending in order to get our heads together, we are now in a space where we need to plan for the medium and long term future, what that might look like, the variables, the possible directions that our business may be able to go in.

Engagement with customers will remain paramount and business owners know that deciding which marketing activities to invest behind will be a major discussion within the management team.

Now’s the time to build a strong brand

Marketing leadership is even more critical in difficult and challenging times.  There are livelihoods at stake across the company and the importance of working with clients remains paramount.

Whether you are a small business, a mid sized firm or a multinational, our interim CMOs know that prioritising the marketing budget is one of the biggest strategic decisions for the short and long term well being of the firm.

Of course, some activities will be stopped, others put on hold but you will need to continue to focus on content marketing and focus your online marketers on delivering qualified marketing leads for the sales force. The result, on balance, has seen those who continue to market, benefit from bigger market shares on the other side as business turns better.

Looking back at the last big recession in 2008, the Harvard Business Review said:

“During recessions it’s more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional – it’s a “good cost,” essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others…

In managing their marketing expenses, businesses must take care to distinguish between the necessary and the wasteful. Building and maintaining strong brands – ones that customers recognise and trust – remains one of the best ways to reduce business risk.

The stock prices of companies with strong brands, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson, have held up better in recessions than those of large consumer product companies with less well-known brands.”

Meanwhile, in September last year,  Forbes hit a prophetic note with their article ‘When A Recession Comes, Don’t Stop Advertising’. It noted that:

“There have been a number of studies going back nearly one century that point out the advantages of maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a weaker economy. Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during the recession and afterwards.”

If you do not have a chief marketing officer, it is even more important to tap into an interim CMO who can act as a marketing consultant to help you navigate the storm.

Benefits of investing in marketing in a down economy

Some of the reasons cited were the increased ‘space’ in the market to get your message heard as others go quiet. The impression of stability that your brand presents by staying vocal helps to give consumers confidence. The cost of advertising tends to drop in recession, creating a buyer’s market. Crucially, marketing also prevents you from disappearing in the minds of consumers - existing and future.

For example, Forbes highlights the case of dry cereals after the 1929 crash. A brand called Post was the market leader. However, when recession hit, they significantly cut their advertising while competitor Kellogg’s doubled its advertising, particularly when it came to their new cereal, Rice Krispies, which they introduced at the time. You don't need to be a marketing executive to appreciate that insight.

Invest, yes. But think about it carefully

All of that said, it doesn’t mean that marketing should just keep calm and carry on as normal. As with all marketing, it should be used efficiently, effectively and strategically, tailoring the approach and the subsequent messaging throughout the organisation to be considered, planned, cohesive, sensitive and with a clear directive in the minds of leadership and the team.

One of the particular characteristics of this pandemic, is that for certain sectors, like travel and hospitality, it is literally impossible to maintain the normal business model for a period of time. So business and associated marketing strategy needs to take into consideration any pivoting in the short term and plans for recovery and moving forward in the longer term.

There is sometimes a misconception that marketing is a luxury; a frill for businesses to indulge in when times are good. The real value of marketing however, is in controlling the narrative when you need it the most. That might be staying at the top of the market in good times or driving business in the face of a strong headwind – after all, if you’re not communicating with your customers, then even when the crisis is over, where is your cash flow going to come from?

You may be a multinational with a deep bench of marketing directors or a well connected individual who knows some of the best selling authors or gurus. However, most firms do not know where to get part time marketing advice.

At gigCMO, we have developed a number of fractional CMO services to access a part time CMO or an interim marketing director. All at a fraction of the cost of what you would expect.

Of course, we have talent on demand - an experienced, wise  Chief Marketing Officer CMO with the relevant marketing and industry expertise to assist you on a specific initiative or project. We have the gigCMO SoundingBoard which allows you to stress test a new product or service amongst  a roundtable of CMOs. And for c-level executives who want to gain greater insight and experience to support their decision making we have a CEO Whisperer solution.

At gigCMO, we  are motivated by your challenges. When we come to your business we're not coming with ego and an agenda to compete within the business. We are here to help you succeed against your competitors.

To win more customers!

We have all come up through the marketing and sales side of the business. We are not an agency - advertising or recruitment.

We have all worked in business just like yours. Our founder and CEO is a former Chief Marketing Officer who has worked across industries and countries.

We understand marketing - the strategy and the tactics. We understand the role marketing technology (martech) plays in the business. We bring a very valuable outside perspective. We understand that special feeling when you are winning in the marketplace.

You need marketing brainpower and gigCMO has it.

Read about the marketing lessons COVID-19 has taught us here