Have you ripped up your marketing plan during Covid-19? Wondering what you should be doing instead? Find out why lifecycle marketing is the key to brands surviving this difficult time.
When virtually the whole world enters lockdown, and commercial life as we know it grounds to a halt, it might seem wise to put the brakes on marketing spend, and wait for it all to blow over. After all, is anyone even spending right now?
The answer is ‘yes’ people are still spending where they can and need to. And even if sales have dropped in your particular sector, the decision to save your marketing budget now may prove, in the long term to be an expensive mistake.
And the reason for this lies in the marketing lifecycle.
Customers don’t appear from nowhere then disappear
Every marketeer understands that customers don’t simply appear from nowhere, make a purchase and then disappear again forever.
In the lifecycle of a customer they’ll often go through a journey that involves becoming aware of your existence, being interested in your offering, evaluating you and your offering against alternatives, making an initial purchase, and then (hopefully) buying from you again and recommending you.
That journey can take place over a few minutes, but normally spans weeks, if not months. Some customers can even wait years to buy from you the first time, or subsequent times.
And it’s your marketing activity that doesn’t just move them through that lifecycle, but keeps them in it – and increases their lifetime value.
Without repeated exposure to your brand and messaging (known as the Mere Exposure Effect), you risk customers and potential customers forgetting who you are. Or not getting to know you well enough to buy in the first place.
By maintaining a visible presence in your target audiences’ lives, you benefit from that ‘glow of warmth’ that comes with familiarity. And when they’re ready to buy – whether it’s now or next month – you’ll be at the front of their mind.
Why lifecycle marketing is more important than ever now
So why is that so relevant right now with Covid-19?
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to remain a visible presence in customers’ lives. Because not only will you keep them in your lifecycle (or attract them into it, ready to buy when the time is right), but you’ll also send a comforting, reassuring message that – while the rest of the world is in chaos – your brand and business is strong.
That sense of trust and reliability is invaluable in brand terms.
You’ll also protect the investment you’ve made to date in your marketing; customers have a short attention span, and will quickly forget your messaging if you stop running ads. Restarting your campaigns from cold once the market picks up again will be slow and expensive – and you risk losing precious market share to competitors who were wise enough to keep their campaigns running.
This isn’t just theory. A MarketSense study of the 1989-91 recession showed that brands who increased their advertising saw sales growth, whilst those who cut it, shrank. As an example, Pizza Hut sales rose 61% and Taco Bell’s 40% through advertising, while McDonald’s sales were reduced by 28%. The study concluded that:
“The best strategy for coping with a recession is balanced exploitation of ad spending for long-term consumer motivation, plus promotion for short term sales boosts.”
Businesses who invest carefully in marketing now will outgrow their competitors
Further research by McGraw-Hill of 600 business-to-business (B2B) companies learned that those who maintained or increased their advertising grew significantly more than those who didn’t.
And the effect lasted as long as three years after the tough economic times had ended, when the sales of companies who had continued to invest in advertising had grown 275% more than those who hadn’t.
No one knows for sure yet how long the current measures for Covid-19 will stay in place. Nor how they will impact the economy for the foreseeable future. But we do have over 100 years of data that shows that the best ways for companies to survive financial crises and recessions is to keep marketing through them.
You need to keep your marketing lifecycle alive and ensure that, wherever customers are within it, they’re noticing, buying from and remembering you.
If you need help working out how to sensitively maintain and grow awareness of your brand during Covid-19, please get in touch.