Budgets, people, processesMoving to a new normal and identifying the opportunities of a changing market are in sharp focus for businesses across the globe. For marketers, this time is being utilised to look forward and assess how functions must evolve in line with these changes. 

To further explore the impacts of the global health emergency on marketing, we hosted a webinar ‘The big questions post Covid-19 for marketeers,’ where we were joined by an expert panel to discuss how the landscape will change, what marketing teams will look like moving forward, and how to get spending back on track. You can view the full webinar on demand here

Here we will summarise some key points of discussion as highlighted by the live survey conducted during our webinar. We will focus on three key areas of priority for businesses: budgets, people, and processes. 

Marketing budgets will decrease

It was clear from the discussions that most professionals in the sector believe marketing budgets will fall. However, the question is where should businesses now focus their time and money? 

Reduced media costs: In the current market there are a lot of opportunities to buy media at a much better price. With less competition for keywords and advertising slots in certain areas, marketers may find their spending goes a bit further than normal. Of course, it will be important to ensure the desired conversion rates are still achieved.

Maximise personalisation: Ensuring your messages resonate with your target audience is more important now than ever. People are more sensitive to messaging that is misaligned and lacks authenticity. Utilising or upgrading CRM and automation tools will facilitate access to better insights, customer journeys, and targeting.

Data: Having access to and utilising first-party data will support smarter allocation of marketing budget. Companies that have already invested in this area will perform better when it comes to making every penny count.

Future-proofing: While it may be more difficult to prove ROI in the shorter term and maintain or grow budgets, it is important to ensure the longer-term strategy and benefits are communicated clearly. This means working closely with internal and external stakeholders to ensure there is sufficient support. In addition to this, looking at broader measures such as extended payment terms with partners may also help to protect budget allocations.

Support and empathy will be key 

When looking forward at reintegrating furloughed employees, or bringing teams back into the offices, marketers, much like any professional, will need more support. 

This is a people crisis: Unlike the Financial Crisis of 2008, the impacts of Covid-19 have been much clearer in terms of the effects on jobs, but also how much more vulnerable individuals are, from a mental and physical wellbeing perspective. Any re-onboarding must take this into account, which means businesses need to shift messaging away from “we’re here for you” to actions that clearly demonstrate this.

Think about how your actions affect those who stay: In the last recession, clear efforts to retain people had an additional positive effect on those who remained in the company. This is because a feeling of togetherness at all levels was promoted. In the words of management guru, Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The way you manage an exit process will speak volumes to those you keep in your employ, and will protect your employer brand for the future.

Plan ahead: When thinking about how and when you will reintegrate your teams into the business, many businesses are considering the question “what do we want to be doing in three to six months?” While difficult to accurately predict what will be happening, it is important to have a clear direction of how the marketing function will move forward when the commercial opportunity arises. Ensuring you have the right people and skill sets to execute your strategy will be key. 

An agile approach should be maintained

The market is fast-changing, and it is expected that this will continue. Your processes should be flexible to support the business in meeting evolving customer demands. 

Tools and information: Marketing technology, access to high-quality data, and fast-paced test and learn processes will aid businesses in staying ahead of competitors. Customer behaviours and values are constantly changing. Staying connected to your customers’ sentiments is key, especially as companies begin to focus on bouncing back and need to sell services/products with urgency.

Upskill: Assess the learning and development opportunities offered to teams focused on improving adaptability – particularly for quick wins that help support longer-term strategy, budgets and re-onboarding.

Talent: Specialist skills may be required, either for the short or long term, to close gaps and facilitate further diversification of marketing spend and revenue streams. Assessing team requirements to support your plans will be necessary.

If you would like to discuss these insights further or how we can support your business at this time, please get in touch. Whether you are a candidate looking for a new role or an employer looking to navigate the current market, we are here to support you.  

Matthew Scarfe 
Manager, Michael Page Marketing