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COVID 19: A Marketers Perspective to change

Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a global threat, impacting millions globally. Global economic realities are significantly impacting every industry. In this unprecedented new reality, the massive changes in customer buying behaviour and change in outlook have put a significant onus on the Chief Growth Officers and the Marketing leaders. In a recent research published by Newscred 56 % of the CMO’s identified “Managing Shifting Priorities” as their biggest challenge.

As organizations, adapt to this new normal and prioritize their goals for 2020. Marketers are struggling with entirely new challenges:

A study by Conducter shows that more than 65% of marketers believe their marketing budgets will decrease, while their marketing goals will either increase or remain the same. A survey from Gartner also echoes a similar sentiment with more than 45 % of marketers reporting that budget cuts have already resulted in campaign launches being delayed and cancellation of media spend.

Marketers will have to adapt to the new situation quickly and reallocate their spending for the next two quarters to be in line with the changed customer behaviour. In addition, they will have to identify new markets, service lines and geographies which can help the companies get back on the growth trajectory.

As the growth drivers for the organization, marketers will need to realign the messaging, service offerings and spends across channels.

Reassess your value proposition: Currently most businesses are in the process of realigning their corporate goals. Another survey by McKinsey, suggests industries like Automobiles, Aero, Travel, Retail, Banking & Finance will witness a significant reduction in sales and anticipate a slow growth for the next 12 – 18 months. Industries like Consumer Goods, Pharma, Life Sciences are witnessing a significant demand but are now investing in ways to deliver goods directly to consumers and reduced human touch. RPA, AI and Machine learning will see significant investments in the next few months and organizations might shelve plans for investments which are not that crucial at this stage. Cognitive Supply Chain, analytics, data intelligence and IT would be areas where we can see significant investments.

In addition, the possibility of more border restrictions, resistance to globalization and the need for resilience across supply chains, by restarting manufacturing programs are some scenarios that the business leaders are predicting at this stage.

Marketing as a function has always played a key role in understanding the customer and their needs. In this changed environment, how well marketing leaders can continue to understand their customers and tweak their messaging will determine the success of the organization. As marketers, it is important to gain insights from your customers, understand what are they looking to focus on, how the buyer behaviour is changing, how are government regulations, travel restrictions and ability to offshore jobs going to impacting your customers. Based on these inputs you need to clearly redefine your value proposition so you can work with your customers to align their spend.

Realign your marketing spend: We are at a digital inflection point, where B2B marketing function will look fundamentally different from what they were before the pandemic. As a Marketer, you will have to aggressively adjust marketing spend and monitor performance in order to make quick changes. The speed at which the industry dynamics are changing the marketing function need to work in an agile manner. Agile marketing established two-week sprints as the standard working speed, but that may be too slow for the world as it is now. Successful marketers, in these times, will be those who adjust their operations to deliver on-message campaigns in a matter of days, if not hours.

Source: Published on in March 2020 |Data Source: IEEE GlobalSpec

Events traditionally ranked as one of the most effective ways of generating leads for technology marketers. B2B technology and services providers spend an average of 11% of the marketing programs budget on events. As per a PCMA Survey, of event professionals, 87% of events have been cancelled and 70% of professionals said that the event has been moved online. 25% of the surveyed professionals also stated that digital events will cannibalize the offline event going forward.

Webinars have now replaced events, with MediaRadar reporting a 36% increase in number of webinar ads between Feb and March. This is also substantiated from the fact that 67% of B2B companies have increased their spending on web conferencing platforms (TrustRadius).

In the last few weeks new trends are emerging in digital marketing, while the overall spend predicted in digital marketing has declined by $30 Bn, the organic traffic on websites other than financial, news and social media has dropped significantly. However, going forward, B2B companies see more digital interactions happening with their clients as most people spend more time online and looking for relevant content. A recent report published by LinkedIn highlights a whopping increase of 2781% in engagement.

Source: Published on in April 2020 | Data Source: Advertiser Perception

Inside sales or Appointment setting has also emerged as an alternate engagement channel at this stage. With most people in lockdown, people are willing to do more online meetings and explore newer vendors and their capabilities to meet their organizational requirements.  With a strong database and engagement using content, the appointment setting channel can quickly help you generate leads and build back your top funnel.

Leverage Technology:

A Gartner report on marketing budgets highlighted that most marketers spend up to 26% of their marketing budgets on technology, however a survey revealed that 60% of them are unable to make the optimum use of the technology. In addition, most of these platforms operate in silos giving very little actionable insights to the marketers. This is an opportunity for Marketers to relook at their technology spend and the Martech stack. Established technologies like personalization engines and account-based marketing capabilities can help by getting relevant insights on consumer behaviour and their aptitude to consume content, marketers can push relevant content to their customers. With this personalized content, the marketers have a higher chance on engaging with their target customers.

Marketers will need to make urgent investments in their technology stack. This crisis will permanently change the course of marketing and marketers will be forced to explore alternate channels to get ahead of customers and close deals online. The marketing function will need to develop better analytics to understand customers at scale, a more flexible and scalable martech stack to drive innovation.

The impact of coronavirus rapidly changed priorities for marketing and is shifting budgets. Marketing is more difficult than ever during this pandemic. Marketers are scrambling to modify their execution plans and find the bandwidth and resources necessary to execute new campaigns and build new content.

During these times marketers should act as a catalyst for action by bringing insights and ideas to the rest of the organization. New businesses and models, new product and service lines, companies will need to consider which capabilities to develop and invest to accelerate their moves into new markets.

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