Katie Kreider Oct 26, 2021 3:26:14 PM 12 min read

How COVID-19 Transformed Marketing

There is little to no doubt in everyone’s mind that the past year was not what anyone was expecting. COVID-19 not only impacted most marketing best practices but altered and molded all of our realities in a way we might have never been prepared for. 

The marketing industry was not immune to the effects of this global pandemic. A crisis, especially one the size of COVID-19, can either paralyze a marketing team or push them to thrive. We’re seeing these distinctions every day—some companies are cutting back on their marketing efforts, while others are innovating and developing new and interesting ways to engage their audience.

One of the first and most important rules of business management is that “your business cannot stay idle for long.” Many entrepreneurs wanted to cut down completely on marketing activities, feeling like the safe, financially responsible choice. But there has to be a balance between financial strain and the need to keep your audience informed and engaged. 

Did you know that long-term studies show that the right approach during an economic crisis is to increase - not decrease - your marketing spend? Nobody wants to be caught lagging behind the competition when the economy jumps up again.

But what does marketing look like now? Has COVID-19 really changed the way we are advertising or engaging our audience? Results from this published CMO survey highlight several important trends. Keep reading, as we dive into the top eight changes we’ve witnessed.

1. Customer Empathy

We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 in some way or another, but this impact tremendously changed consumer behavior and attitudes. In the previously mentioned study, they found that 76% of people have recently picked up new habits, behaviors, and even routines. This has an undeniable role in consumers trying new products or brands that they never have before. 

With all this data and the world around us changing so fast, it can be easy to stick with what has always worked, but even data you collected 8 weeks ago may already be out of date. As marketing experts, it is our responsibility to stay ahead of trends and be proactive in monitoring customer behavior during any crisis. It’s more important than ever to continuously adjust your marketing strategies to how your target audience is reacting to the current climate, exemplifying true empathy to the situations they are in.

2. Digital Build to Back-End Infrastructure

Whether we liked it or not, the pandemic shoved everyone into a rapid digital transformation for many companies and agencies. Some of the top ways that marketing experts survived the crisis was by building a better digital interface and transforming go-to-market business models to include a digital infrastructure.

3. Internet Sales Reached New Highs

The world experienced a new record high of stay-at-home orders placed across the country, and internet sales soared throughout the pandemic. Internet sales saw a new high in February 2021. All indications are that many of these new online routines will be here to stay and, when coupled with stronger digital investments, marketers should continue to focus on delivering value through this channel.

4. Marketing Spend Rebounds—in a New Direction

February 2021 observed the biggest decrease in general marketing spend in history. But at the same time, digital marketing spending increased radically, changing the nature of marketing investments overall for the entire year. Twelve-month projections for overall marketing spending reflect the second-largest forecasted value.

5. Marketing Performance Regains Footing

Overall, marketers saw a huge fall in sales revenue at 17.8% in June 2020 due to the early months of the pandemic. At now over a year into the pandemic, marketers report a gain of 0.3% over the last year — essentially flat for the year. However, despite marketers reporting a 14.7% loss in profits in June 2020, they are now reporting a 2.6% gain for the year.

6. COVID-19 Disrupts Marketing Jobs, Producing Both Losses and Gains

Like many industries, there was a large loss of marketing jobs lost between February 2020 and February 2021 (the first year of the pandemic). Fortunately, there has been a rise in marketing jobs since then. 

While the job losses are astounding, there were also job additions that not many could have predicted. Overall, we saw a 9% increase in marketing jobs. Looking forward, there are tremendously optimistic projections for hiring in the field. 

7. Marketers Stick with Low-Risk Strategies

Pre-pandemic growth marketing strategies were focused on market penetration, with product and service development, market development, and diversification. B2B product companies stayed with what they knew, and reported low-risk penetration as a growth strategy and fewer marketers reported diversification as an option. Meanwhile, B2C services were the opposite, with fewer marketers reporting low-risk penetration strategies and more reporting diversification as growth strategies.

8. COVID-19 Shifts Sustainability Focus From Products to Promotions

Pre-pandemic, marketers and their companies were changing products and services to reduce the negative impact of marketing on the ecological environment. When the pandemic hit, marketers shifted their sustainability focus to changing marketing promotions altogether.

Shouldn’t marketers focus more on sustainability? Forty-seven percent of respondents claimed that the cost of sustainability is the largest factor interfering with doing more, while a large majority of companies reported COVID-19 as the second largest barrier.

How Have You Fared?

As the global pandemic is far from over, marketers are reporting their companies have made it through the COVID-19 storm and see brighter horizons. As more of the economy opens up, time will tell how successful these pandemic strategies were and how marketers will come out the other side.

It’s not uncommon for companies to be stuck or unsure of their next marketing steps. That’s where we come in—we’ve been able to maneuver our way through the pandemic and have come out stronger on the other side. Set up your free 30-minute strategy call with Uncommon Marketing Works! Our team is ready to help you take your business to the next level and increase your bottom line. Contact us today!

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