On April 14th, the International Monetary Fund announced its latest forecasts for 2020 and 2021. It predicted a 6.5% contraction in the UK in 2020, while the Office for Budget Responsibility’s more severe estimate forecasted that GDP would fall by 12.8% this year. For businesses all over the country, the economic strain is compounded by the fact that consumer behaviour has inevitably changed. However, even at the depths of the last recession, brands that were able to respond to changing consumer needs felt the benefit, and it is marketing that will play a vital role in helping businesses gather insight on consumer behaviours adopted during lockdown, capitalise on these shifts, and weather the storm. It is therefore essential for cohesive relationships to be established and maintained between marketers and businesses on a local and national level.

Responding to changes

In order for local businesses to grow, it is the responsibility of marketers to produce measurable results that can be clearly recognised as a return on investment. For example, a recent report by Conductor revealed that in a recession, over a third of marketers would increase investments in low-cost channels such as SEO, and Google results corroborate the rising importance of search marketing.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a change of course for the types of things we search for online, with Google Trends data between January 18th and April 15th reflecting a 2000 percent increase in searches for ‘fish and chips near me’, ‘rent gym equipment’, ‘baking recipes’ and ‘pubs delivering food near me’, while searches for ‘city breaks’, ‘cinema times’ and ‘nail salons’ have decreased by over 90 percent. Businesses need to embrace digital marketing functions to maximise the efficacy of marketers and support non-traditional forms of marketing. For instance, the Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact study estimates that spending $1.3 million on organic search gives an organisation an equivalent value to spending $12 million on physical advert placements.

Supporting customer needs

In the Conductor report, 40 percent of marketers agreed that their marketing goals will increase in the downturn following COVID-19, despite facing lowered budgets. The underlying consumer demand for products and services will still be there in the aftermath of the pandemic, but 86 percent of marketers predict that achieving their goals will become more difficult, resulting in the need for reciprocal support between businesses and marketers.

Findings from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) indicate that 48 percent of marketers listed customer experience as their main area of focus – this is supported by Mintel research showing that 59 percent of consumers were ‘extremely worried’ about how COVID-19 would affect their lifestyle. Local businesses are ideally placed to offer personal customer experiences that accommodate Government guidance on social distancing. For example, local Sudbury businesses such as the Bridge Project, Twentea One and Painters Café have been offering afternoon teas and sweet treats for pickup or delivery, making the most of the key short-term spending shift for ‘bringing the outside in’.

Mitigating disruption

The latest CIM report reveals that almost two thirds of marketers in the East of England say a better understanding of the profession would unlock even greater value for society. As a result, the immediate priority for businesses should be researching and enlisting marketing support to manage short- and medium-term disruption, and to monitor the longer-term impact on consumer attitudes. To find out more information about the CIM and to access free resources about dealing with the impact of COVID-19, visit their website.

In addition, Mackman is here to provide marketing support and advice. We are welcoming new enquiries at this time and would be pleased to discuss your requirements. Call 01787 388038 or email customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk to speak to one of our team.

Paul Mackman, Company Director

For more articles that discuss the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and the value of marketing, see below: