A few months into the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is clear: COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the economy, and healthcare has taken a big hit in the pocketbook. Once the worst of the pandemic has passed, what will marketing look like?
While it’s hard to know at this point exactly what will happen in the coming months, we can glean some insights from previous economic recessions. A 2010 study from Harvard Business School looked at corporate performance after past recessions. The study looked at 4,700 companies and their performance after the three recessions prior to 2008. It found:
- 17% were unable to survive a recession at all.
- Three years after a recession, 80% had not gotten back to their pre-recession growth rate, and 40% were unable to get to even their same revenue/profit levels.
- Less than 10% were able to flourish and outperform their competitors by at least 10% in revenue and profit growth.
With this in mind, marketing will be in the hot seat to help deliver increased contributions to the sales pipeline and revenues. What will this look like?
Contraction and innovation of Martech. There has been an overabundance of Martech options and vendors, and a recession will most likely serve to whittle those down. And organizations that have purchased platforms that are not giving them value will be looking to improve their situations. Expected trends include:
- Martech options will become available at much lower prices as the technology vendors downsize and even liquidate.
- Innovators will emerge and thrive as they develop next-gen technology.
The return of live events. In the first half of 2020, most live events – conferences, tradeshows, etc. – were cancelled or switched to a virtual format. Live events that were scheduled for the second half of the year face the same decision: cancel or go virtual? While virtual events are certainly on the uprise, don’t look for the death of live events just yet. Travel took a huge hit after 9/11, and while it took a while for travel to return to normal, it eventually reached and surpassed pre-9/11 levels. Barring unforeseen consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, live marketing conferences will resume because people want and need to interact in person.
Gig workers in marketing. Unfortunately, recessions have a negative effect on the job market. Marketing will be affected, as will all industries. The growth in the economy and job market of the past couple of years is coming to a halt. While no one is immune from layoffs or furloughs, it’s the younger people just entering the job market or just a couple of years in who will be most affected. Contract opportunities will become more prevalent.
Invest now for growth later. Research has shown the validity of the saying, “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” When the economy is bad, maintaining or growing ad spend leads to increased sales and market share both during and after the recession. More of marketing budgets should go to content, paid media and digital engagement.
What changes are being made in your organization to adjust to the new economic reality?