Resuscitating the marketing industry during COVID-19

With the alarming rate at which COVID-19 has been spreading, the global stock market has been seeing a rapid decline which is affecting many businesses, markets and individuals. Since the nationwide lockdown was announced there have been changes in customer buying habits and individual industry productivity. The sudden collapse in the demand for advertising is one that the industry has never seen before, even previous recessions have seen the marketing industry as one of the few that still thrived but this time, it has been turned on its head. So what now? 

The facts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are disheartening, not only because so many people are infected but also because of the economic implications. 

In planning their campaigns, marketers should mostly consider the buying behaviours of those most affected by the virus who have low spending propensities, these are individuals who do not have a significant disposable income, individuals who are in retirement, and small business owners. Even industries or companies that are supply-chain reliant on other countries are experiencing shipment slowdowns, malls are not functioning in full effect and businesses that are affiliated with any events that should have taken place during this time are losing money. However, through all this businesses and brands still need to find a way to maintain a good relationship with consumers and employees, focusing mainly on what they can do for people in light of the pandemic and being transparent about the health and safety of their workers and the products. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: An amazing way to make sure your business gets through this pandemic stronger would be to not take advantage of the situation but instead finding industry specific solutions that will contribute positively to society. 

If you are in the field of marketing then you have probably heard of the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing; Pride, Envy, Wroth, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth and Greed/Avarice. These are the principles that the marketing field is said to have thrived on since the dawn of time. Things have changed now, however, the marketing industry being turned on its head might not be such a bad thing after all, maybe we don’t flip it back but instead we work with it this way instead. How do we resuscitate the marketing industry during COVID-19? 

Simple answer, the 7 Viral Virtues, as suggested by Brian Basilico; humility, then abundance, purity, kindness, order, peace, and action. I say this because, even though most businesses have lost a lot of money during this pandemic, the agencies that have helped others selflessly by either decreasing premium prices or offering more free premium features for their services have built a huge brand following. While this might not be generating any profit for them right now, it has created more traffic towards their websites, social media pages and other online platforms. For example, after giving away a free marketing course, Eric Siu saw a rise in his social media following which then opened up the opportunity to present his products to an even larger crowd. Selfless acts of humanity rarely ever go unrewarded, when people are grateful to you they stick with you, they trust you. When offering free online services it might take much longer to break even financially, but that’s ok, in the long run the brand is what secures future profits and a loyal customer base. Humility, abundance, purity, kindness, order and peace is shown through caring more about what you can bring to the table instead of what you can get.

Another thing that is very important for marketers to realise is that in-store traffic and demand have fallen significantly since people have been staying home because of the lockdown, which means an increase in home-based online and television activity. Advertisers can now reach their target customers by investing mostly in TV and digital marketing. Since the traffic is up online, paid ads are becoming cheaper and businesses are seeing a much ROI from paid ads than before COVID-19 hit. When advertising online it is also very important to consider creating interactive content, and give people the opportunity to connect with your business. 

Marketers should also realise that right now people are looking to reduce their cash spend, a great way to help customers make their buying process easier is by offering Payment Plans, this will help reduce the financial strain on customers in the short run. By doing this businesses can also increase their conversion rates, and everybody wins. Diversifying your traffic can also help keep your business afloat, while it is good to have a niche – right now relying on only one economy can be a problem because of the vast uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus.

One other good opportunity that the directors here at e-Mfundi have seen has been to offer educational based training, we have seen the gap in South Africa where people are struggling with unemployment and are looking for opportunities. At e-Mfundi, we have been open about the coming change in the future of occupation due to the 4th Industrial Revolution, our objective has been to educate Africa about what is coming, to help individuals see technology as an ally towards a successful future and not as a threat. We had hoped to transition our fellow countries men into a biodigital future and cultivate problem solvers, opportunists, and industry disruptors across the board. However due to this pandemic we see the future drawing in faster than we had anticipated and the pressure to adapt to the new almost entirely digital occupation system. Our NEST website focuses primarily on helping people start their own businesses in any industry and what they can do during this pandemic to get it off the ground.

According to the World Health Organisation, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just technology-driven change; it is an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy-makers and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future.” With the daily count of new Coronavirus victims growing many people are inclined to feel disheartened about the future, but we can make a change. 
Technology has offered us a platform to show love towards one another safely by allowing us to connect from a distance. While we are at home, make an effort to grow yourself as well as your business and you will come out of the Coronavirus stronger. We are living in a time where people are so ingenious and inventive that in the future they will accredit this huge dent in the economy to shock and nothing more because soon we will be seeing more imaginative responses to this crisis so that business and life itself can go on.  A re ithuteng, re berekeng, re tswelele rotlhe re le sechaba.

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