Coronavirus Crisis

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Impacts your Marketing & Sales Process (and What you Should Do)

Usman Khalil

April 20, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic will already have affected how you do business today. The visible outcome of this crisis for businesses has been shutdowns, bankruptcies, and layoffs. But a lot of other companies are in a state of indecision where they’ve halted hiring and buying processes as a direct result of markets coming to a halt.

The effects of the coronavirus crisis on marketing and sales have been profound; businesses have struggled to continue with their campaigns as they are. Here are some aspects of what has been 

Marketing budget cuts

With the global economy set to suffer a projected loss of $2.7 trillion, marketing budgets have understandably been cut down. The economic impact of coronavirus has trickled down to sales and marketing processes. 

According to a survey conducted in Belgium by The House of Marketing, 60% of marketers reported a marketing budget cut and delays in campaigns. Over in the UK, from among a group surveyed recently, only 14% of them have reported continuing their marketing campaigns as planned.

Due to budget cuts, most of them have been delayed, while others have been prompted to rethink their communication strategy.

Traffic to website affected (positively and negatively)

With people staying indoors, online activity has been impacted drastically by the covid-19 pandemic. Industries such as Food, Finance, and Healthcare have seen a spike in demand, whereas a lot of other industries have suffered as economic activities have come to a halt.

However, even with people flocking to food delivery apps online, restaurants have lost $25 billion to the crisis with 110,000 set to close up shop forever just in the US. 

Image shows traffic growth for Finance, Food and Healthcare industries online due to coronavirus, whereas Travel faces a more than 40% decrease in traffic.

Google search trends

If there’s one thing that reflects what people are thinking about these days, it’s Google search trends. And last week, Google tweeted about notable patterns in what people are searching for these days. DIY project searches have spiked, with searches for “How to make a mask with fabric” witnessing a whopping 4550% increase for obvious reasons.

People are searching for how to make safety equipment and other DIY projects during the coronavirus pandemic
Source: Google Trends

Recently, people are also increasingly searching for when things will go back to normal, with the interest in the search term “normal” reaching an all-time high.

Interest in the word normal is at an all-time high as people world-over wonder what the new normal looks like during the coronavirus pandemic
Source: Google Trends

What does this mean for marketing and sales? These trends show that people have already started to think differently. That may not change for a few months at least.

The second thing that is clear is that people are searching online for answers about what the future looks would look like, when normalcy will return, or what a new normal might look like. 

Marketers and salesmen might be able to frame their messaging in a way that it answers this question for their target market. 

A shift to online selling

In China, where the effects of COVID-19 were felt longer than in the US, McKinsey reports that more than 55 percent of Chinese consumers are likely to continue to shop online for groceries.  

Stay at home practices have boosted online shopping but this doesn’t mean that it has made up for losses incurred in the offline markets. 80% of shopping still happens in the offline world. Online shopping, e-commerce, and online marketing have instead served as good alternatives in the absence of offline shopping.

What’s interesting to see here is that this behavioral change is likely to stay, which means that regardless of the situation of global markets, more people will be buying online in the future.

What to do for customers

Well then, how do you approach customers and prospects during a situation like this?

Advertising giant Ogilvy suggests taking an AWARE approach:

  • Assess your employee experience first and foremost.
  • Watch & Wait unless you have an immediate way to help your customers and prospects. However, taking the wrong step during this time could end up being more damaging to your customers and your brand.
  • Adjust your Artifacts; the way of working will have changed for the foreseeable future. Use the watch and wait period to adjust your internal processes, customer journeys, touchpoints so that they reflect the new reality, and allow you to make better decisions.
  • Rethink your Strategy; based on how things have changed, how customers are reaching out to you, you can now rethink your customer engagement strategy. What service should you provide to best serve your customers at this time? What method of delivery will serve them best? Do you need new tools to service your customers’ needs?
  • Ensure Success; Now that you’ve adjusted your marketing strategies, stay alert and engage with your customers. How is it playing out? Does it need tweaking to ensure success?

As a Marketer/Salesperson, you’re at the frontline of providing the right experiences to customers and prospects. You might come across resources online which encourage you to take an aggressive approach at this time, and some of them might have achieved some success with that approach, but it is (a) a thin line to walk, (b) a questionable strategy for the long term.

Empathy drives consumer energy during covid-19 crisis

In fact, as this Forrester survey reveals, having an empathetic response to your customers and prospects at this time builds trust and encourages customers to refer your brand to others too.

Usman Khalil

Marketing Manager

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