Due to the COVID-19 pandemic change has been brought about at unprecedented speed. Consumer trends that were picking up steam ahead of the crisis have been further accelerated. This forced marketers to ask themselves marketing strategy vs. marketing plan? One thing is certain, people’s priorities have changed. Businesses need to adapt their marketing plans as well as their strategies to meet consumer needs.
The pandemic is only temporary but the behaviours picked up are here to stay. Around 75% of people using digital channels for the first time state that they will continue to use them when we return to “normal.” With people choosing to go digital at an all-time high, companies need to reassess how they market their products and services and adjust to secure a stronger market position.
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Plan
It’s more important than ever to have a clear vision of where you are headed and how you will get there. That’s why businesses need both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.
A marketing strategy summarizes your marketing efforts in order to distinguish your business from the competition, whereas a marketing plan is a roadmap with particular activities that will get you there.
The strategy ensures alignment behind a shared vision and that everyone understands the target audience and the value proposition. Once the strategy is established, the marketing plan details how SEO, SEM, social media, and other marketing channels will help you to achieve the vision.
Every marketing plan should therefore have achievable and timely goals that contribute to the success of the marketing strategy.
With 2020 being such a turbulent year, many businesses are reassessing their marketing plans. However, the marketing strategy remains the same for most. Over 60% of marketers are altering their short-term media strategy (marketing plan) On the contrary, only 9% are actually adapting their long-term goals (marketing strategy).
How Can You Address Necessary Changes in the Marketing Plan?
The global pandemic has opened a lot of eyes and has shown how rapidly things can change. It has also shown how important it is to be agile and flexible to trends in consumer behavior. An economic slowdown is around the corner. The rapid development of digital technologies means innovation and new competitors are a constant threat.
Keeping a close eye on your business market is vital in order to anticipate change and quickly adapt your marketing plan. You can use official government impact assessments, local authorities, and market reports to find out about changes to your specific market.
It’s also essential to always have an eye on your competitors and your internal business and marketing performance. If you fail to meet key performance indicators (KPIs), you need to determine why that is before you can effectively respond. Competitive analysis can help you to find out how other businesses in your industry have changed their marketing plans. Then you can determine if there is an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
The key to success and long-term growth and profitability is how you predict and react to change.
Reallocate Your Budget
Most businesses are sensibly looking at how savings can be made. However, now is not the time to cut marketing budgets entirely. Making excessive cuts can cause long-term damage to growth. According to several studies from the 2008 global financial crisis, companies that decided to scale back on sales and marketing activities during the recession saw 3x less growth than their competitors in the following years.
Instead of scaling back on all marketing and sales activities, business owners should evaluate marketing campaigns. Following this, they can make informed decisions based on return on investment.
The Growth Share Matrix is an effective framework for analyzing the success of your marketing campaigns. It can help you make informed budget allocation decisions. You can find out how to create a Growth Share Matrix for your business’ marketing efforts by reading our guide.
It’s easy to fall into a short-sighted view of individual campaign success rather than viewing your marketing activities as a whole. The Growth Share Matrix framework helps you see the bigger picture by comparing your marketing initiatives. It also shows you how they contribute to your short-term goals as well as long-term growth. With these insights, you’ll be able to adapt your marketing plan and determine which channels deserve more or less budget.
Adjust Creative Content to Match the Present Demand
COVID-19 has massively disrupted creative content publishing schedules. As the lives of consumers have changed, so have their priorities. Audiences are not thinking about the same things as in pre-pandemic times. Businesses need to make sure the content they publish matches the current circumstances and consumer demand.
The international cycling equipment brand Ekoï is an example of how companies can pivot their content strategy to match the present demand. Ekoï offers a range of clothing and equipment for road cyclists and mountain bikers around the globe. We are all aware of social distancing and lockdown measures introduced in different countries. Consequently, the Ekoï marketing team adapted their content output to different audience segments’ needs.
For countries under strict lockdown measures, Ekoï switched its promotion to indoor cycling equipment. They also created live virtual training streams in order to help their audience through the lockdown and maintain a community connection. Conversions are down for lots of businesses. But by taking steps to build brand trust using your creative content, you will be in a better position when demand returns and sales increase.
Investigate Changes in Media Consumption and Adapt Marketing Channels Accordingly
Not only have consumer priorities changed, but so have their media consumption habits and the use of digital channels. The pandemic has caused a considerable increase in the amount of time that is spent online. Global online content consumption has doubled in 2020. The average time spent per day consuming content across TV, phone, and digital media is now 6 hours and 59 minutes.
If businesses are able to determine where their audience is spending time online and adapt their marketing channels accordingly, they can win out hugely. Many companies have been forced to cut budgets. Therefore, Paid Ads have become cheaper, despite there being more traffic on the internet. A Rakuten Advertising survey shows 44% of online publishers expect year-over-year traffic to exceed pre-pandemic levels over the Christmas period. With consumers spending more time online, there is an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on cheaper advertising costs and larger audiences.
Take a look at Victoria Plum, the UK-based online bathroom retailer. It’s a prime example of a company that has adjusted its marketing plan to changes in media consumption. By increasing its display advertising budget, Victoria Plum has been able to capitalize on cheaper advertising costs and increase website traffic. While sales are down across the industry, they will be better positioned to retarget site visitors when consumer spending increases.
Rather than making a hasty knee-jerk reaction, business owners should adjust their short term marketing plan. By doing this, they will also support their long-term marketing strategy.
Keeping Pace With the Consumer
The previous 12 months have seen consumer trends expected to evolve over the next decade suddenly become the new normal. With all of the uncertainties of 2020, one thing is clear: Businesses need to adapt their marketing plans to meet the needs of their customers if they are going to succeed.
Now is the time to be data-driven in how you allocate your resources. Cutting budgets and letting your online visibility slip is not going to help with short-term or long-term profitability. While some competitors stagnate, there’s an opportunity for businesses to bring themselves closer to the consumer and forge lasting relationships that fuel growth. If you need help adapting your marketing plan to the new consumer dynamic, check out how Ogno can help you grow your business sustainably.