Do some real marketing during the Covid-19 pandemic

First of all, what is marketing, really? 

Ask people to describe marketing and it's a safe bet most will associate it with advertising, direct mail, getting ranked on Google search and being on social media.

It's true that these are all aspects of marketing, but really only one dimension. They're all forms of marketing communications, the 4th 'P' - promotion - in the marketing mix devised by E. Jerome McCarthy in the 1960s and still very relevant today.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), however, offers this definition of marketing:  “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".

This means that, at its core, marketing is really more about discovering what it is people already want and need then finding ways to give that to them, rather than finding ways to get them to buy what you already produce - a subtle but important distinction (there's a brief guide to what marketing is on our website).

When times are good, it's probably fair to say that most businesses focus their marketing efforts more towards the latter; they produce a product or deliver a service and then spend their resources on promoting these goods and services in the hope that someone will buy them.

Suddenly, times are not so good thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. Not only does this mean that demand for many products and services has collapsed, it has sparked new demand for others.

In this, as in previous recessions, the most successful businesses will be those that are able to pivot in order to meet changed demands.

Like the companies that were busy installing acrylic signage until a few months ago but are now supplying clear plastic screens to keep people separate in the workplace. Or the manufacturing and engineering businesses that have turned their attention to producing parts for hospital ventilators. Or the soft furnishings businesses that are now turning-out face masks. Or the laboratory businesses making new diagnostic tests.

These are all examples of real marketing.

Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably

No matter what your business is or does, now is the ideal time to invest in some real marketing like this. It might lead you down a totally different but very rewarding path. Here are three things you should be doing:

#1 Start by talking to your existing customers and even your suppliers. Find out what new pains they have, and think about ways you could adapt in order to lessen or eliminate these pains.

#2 Do some social monitoring. Look for people talking about their problems and issues on social media and then engage with them to explore how you might be able to put your skills to work in helping them tackle these problems.

#3 Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate potential opportunities and threats. Think about how you can match your existing strengths to the opportunities, and how you can overcome weaknesses in order to guard against the threats you've identified. We forget to make time for this sort of SWOT analysis, but many of us will have an abundance of time now so use it for a period of reflection.

There's a saying that necessity is the mother of all invention. It's true. Even though the economy is virtually flatlining, there's still plenty of need to satisfy. The key, according to Henry Chesbrough - director of the Open Innovation Centre at Berkley University in California - is to create new business models that can add value to already existing technologies.

The bottom line is to actively seek ideas for changes and adaptations that will help you thrive not just in spite but because of Covid-19.

If you need help, our team are on hand to discuss strategy and tactics that will help you tap new demand. You can call us on 01772346152, email or use the contact page on our website