MARKETING IN THE TIME OF COVID

Alan Calverley

by Alan Calverley
Published: 28th May 2021

MARKETING IN THE TIME OF COVID

As the one-year lockdown anniversary ticked by without too much fanfare and restrictions (at the time of writing) ease across the UK, we have a chance to reflect on how our approach to marketing has changed and question how many of our tried and trusted methods will return.

Marketing communications has played a vital role in the Corona era – keeping customers, employees and suppliers up to date, advising on closures, deliveries and new working practices. 

Of course, digital means of communication such as emails, social media and websites were all proven methods before the pandemic hit but our experience since then has emphasised their importance and value in the overall marketing mix. 

Critical Comms

As a PR & marketing agency we support our clients with communications, ensuring they have purpose, are on-message, on-brand and timely.  Like many, we have utilised a mixture of platforms and approaches – from mass customer emails to instant messenger.  Those businesses who have not maximised the communication tools at their disposal may have weakened existing relationships.   In my opinion, regular communication – regardless of good or bad news, has been critical throughout the crisis.

Lead Generation

While many businesses saw a definite spike in activity, something which still impacts order books, lead generation remained an important consideration – we had to ensure that the leads kept rolling in during those long days working or staying at home.  And once again, most businesses turned to digital marketing tools.

One client in the building and construction sector decided to push their Google advertising expenditure to generate more leads and quote opportunities, as customers had more time to browse and research products online.  Pay-per-click alongside social media advertising certainly proved big winners in the lead generation stakes.

Traditional Marketing

Of course, it was very easy (and still is!), to be swept up in the immediate response and exposure of digital marketing but we were encouraged to hear and experience the enduring appeal of traditional methods.  PR, for example, continued for all our clients and we were particularly pleased to support our colleagues in the printed press.

Other tried and trusted elements such as printed brochures proved to be crucial.  Not all consumers are digitally astute and often the ‘feel’ of a brochure gives confidence and reassurance.  Yes, short runs were preferable to long, litho’ print runs and the flipbook was a must, but in our experience the demand for printed brochures didn’t diminish.

End of the Exhibition?

The one area which has suffered more than any other is, of course, live events.  National, regional and local events were all missing from the marketing schedule.  Many were postponed once, some twice, and we are in fact all waiting to see whether the shows pencilled for September are possible?  I do hope so.

These events account for a big chunk of the marketing budget and ultimately, generate a huge amount of exposure when you include pre- and post-show publicity.  It was nigh on impossible to replicate this last year, in my opinion virtual exhibitions just didn’t make the grade. 

We also have to consider the knock-on for those trades associated with events and networking – orders for business cards, promotional items and giveaways all but dried up.

Return of the…

So, as the dust settles and we adjust to a post-lockdown, vaccinated normal, what tools will endure and which old favourites will return?

Well, I think the demise of any one element is too early to call.  I firmly believe that once we’ve cracked the protocols for live events, exhibitions will feature once again, and looking at the floorplans for some of the trade shows scheduled for this Autumn, it certainly looks promising!  

Reproduced with kind permission of Glass Times. First appeared – May 2021 issue – Marketing supplement


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