By Dr Eugene Brink
The Covid-19 pandemic has expedited shifts that were already occurring over the years. Changes that were thought to still take years, have now been pushed forward and there is no turning back.
Marketing has undergone somewhat of a seismic change over a short period. Covid-19 has accelerated change relating to work, workplaces, business and consumer tastes like few phenomena in recent memory. “Marketing is fast-paced and always changing. Marketing teams must constantly alter their strategies to get the edge over competitors,” writes marketing maven Kyle Jennings.
“Marketing will forever change. Marketers who embrace these changes will be able to grow their brands, even if the economic downturn lasts for years and becomes a depression,” says Entrepreneur.com contributor and businesswoman Linda Orr. She points to a recent study showing how 76% of people picked up new habits, and 89% of these people intend to retain their new habits. Thirty-six percent of consumers said they plan to stay loyal to brands they discovered during the crisis.
“Some industries will see smaller changes than others, but all will see changes. It is up to the marketer to understand how their industries are changing (rapidly!), adapt to these changes, be agile with marketing strategies and implement marketing strategies to attract new customers and make them brand loyal,” she says.
The electronic written and spoken word
One pertinent and monumental shift over the years is the one from print to digital. As relatively recently as 20 years ago when the internet was still in its infancy, marketing in newspapers and magazines and on TV still reigned supreme.
With the printing industry having waned quite considerably owing to changing consumer behaviour, online marketing is now wielding the sceptre.
Already in 1966 John D Louth delivered this electronic prophecy in an article for McKinsey Quarterly: “There are many other possible applications of electronic equipment as an aid to the marketing function. And in the years to come, the use of electronic equipment by marketing management will certainly increase.” He could impossibly have imagined the shape this electronic shift would assume.
“Marketing teams are turning their attention to digital marketing. Expensive television ads are replaced with internet campaigns which are conducted at a much lower cost. Mobile-friendly websites have become imperative,” Jennings says. “The rise of social media and the internet has levelled the playing field. Virtually anyone can effectively market on social media at a very low cost. Social media communications must be continuous, holidays and weekends included. Customers expect immediate responses to their inquiries. Marketing has evolved to 24/7.”
Orr points to internet usage and mobile data traffic both having increased by large margins during the crisis, while TV, experiential and sponsorship spending all showed large drops. It is not that the visual element has been eviscerated – on the contrary. “Video is gaining popularity in marketing. Nearly three quarters of us are visual learners; we would rather watch than read. Customers often share videos on social media. Today’s smartphones can show professional-quality videos, making video much more accessible,” Jennings says.
He says that as such, videos, links, FAQ’s and blog posts are ways to improve a website’s visibility, or search engine optimisation (SEO). “Surprisingly, long articles are favoured over short ones. Increasingly, journalists work in marketing departments rather than at traditional, and declining, news outlets. Journalists are trained in research and in writing articles that are not ‘drawn out’, but informative, attention-grabbing pieces.”
Radio marketing and advertising are also changing with the times. Although people still “tune in” on their radios, they are also switching to listening to their favourite radio stations on the Web and getting their analyses from podcasts. Popular podcasts, not dissimilar to well-liked social media pages, have larger audiences than established, commercial radio stations and other media. This is something that should be borne in mind when tailoring your marketing strategy.
This is not to say that marketing has become cheaper in the monetary sense or image. Credibility will still make or break you and could even be harder to maintain in the “always-on” online environment. Due to the digital factor, new technological and content-generation skills have been on the rise.
John D Louth, 1966, “The changing face of marketing”, https://jenningsvaluation.com/2017/10/11/8-major-changes-in-marketing/.
Kyle Jennings, 2020, “8 major changes in marketing”, https://jenningsvaluation.com/2017/10/11/8-major-changes-in-marketing/.
Linda Orr, 5 August 2020, “5 Ways Marketing Strategy Has Changed Permanently”, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/353908.
Warren Knight, 2018, “How marketing has changed in 10 years”, https://warren-knight.com/2018/04/09/how-marketing-changed-10-years/.