Marketing Effectiveness in the ‘New Normal’ Q & A: Questions Marketers Should Ask, Short and Long Term Impacts & Media Channels

Pivoting to the ‘new normal’ created by the global response to Coronavirus requires marketers to make confident, robust and data-informed decisions. In a virtual fireside chat, our resident ‘bull’ and ‘bear’, Jon Webb and Matthew Chappell sat down in conversation with Global CMO Claudia Sestini to answer three questions we have been getting from marketers in these uncertain times:

  • What questions should marketers be asking right now?
  • What’s the impact of stopping advertising or curtailing a specific campaign?
  • Which media channels should marketers pull budget from first when trying to reduce spend?

Silver Linings

To kick off the conversation we started by asking our resident experts what general or personal ‘positives’ they had noticed.

Jon Webb,  who leads marketing effectiveness and general business consultancy programs with clients said “silver linings are hard to find at the moment, but I’m pretty reassured to see governments around the world to announce measures to protect incomes as best as they can for the majority of the population. A personal silver lining is I’m seeing more of my family.”

Leading Marketing Effectiveness programs for 11 years and with a specialism in short- and long-term effectiveness, Matthew Chappell said “silver linings for me are around the return to more nature and seeing nature come back to life.”

1. The Questions Marketers Should be Asking Right Now

These times have been a significant stress test for many marketers. Government restrictions have impacted on demand, distribution, supply, product and service availability. With that in mind, Jon answers the question: What questions should marketers be asking right now to help inform business decisions?

Key take-aways:

  • Marketers should wear a larger hat. They should think beyond marketing comms. Consider the impact for the entire company: sit down with finance, work out cash flow status; can advertising be afforded, ask does it even make sense to advertise now?
  • In the first 2-3 weeks, we had to focus on logistics, like supply chains and communications channels. Now, we must start asking about potential economic scenarios e.g. V shaped, U shaped recovery, and ask “how might these scenarios impact our business?”.
  • Context is key. Understand where your brand is, what it promises, what your brand values are, and where you want your brand to be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. Work backwards from there, tactically and strategically, and put those plans in place now.

2. Impact of Stopping Advertising or Curtailing Specific Campaign

The last recession is probably the closest analogous scenario to compare to these times. Harvard Business Review has noted that brands who increase or maintain spend during tough times are able to improve their market share and ROI at a lower cost after a crisis than if they stopped advertising altogether. 

Matthew, a well-respected industry voice on the topic of short- and long term marketing effectiveness impacts of advertising answers:  What is the impact of stopping advertising altogether or containing certain campaigns during this session?

Key take-aways:

  • Frame your thinking in terms of short, medium, and long-term measurement.
  • Many advertisers don’t have marketing budgets right now, and many are seeing lots of demand but don’t want more demand in case they can’t keep up with supply chains.
  • Three reasons why advertising beyond now for the long-term is important right now:

    1. Habits can change when there are big shifts in consumer lifestyle or life stages e.g., getting married, having children, life changes during sheltering in. Now is a great time to target people who are phasing into new shifts.
    2. As per the Thinkbox research, we found that advertising has twice as much effect in the long-term as it does in the short-term. That impact will either be there if you advertise, or it won’t if you don’t.
    3. Think about the potential loss of your share of market or share of voice if your competitors are advertising.

3. Media Channels Marketers Should Pull Budget from First When Trying to Reduce Spend

The reality is, many businesses at the moment have to scrap or reduce their marketing budget to save the business. Cost reductions are kicking in. For those who are lucky enough to still be able to invest in marketing, how can they optimize their media budget? What should they cut back on and what should they ramp up on? Jon Webb says that while there have been some obvious changes to the media landscape (such as OOH and cinema) the actual question remains largely the same, “how do I best meet my objectives with media and marketing?”

Key take-aways:

  • Start by defining your KPIs with laser focus. Instead of having multiple KPIs per campaign, focus on one KPI.
  • KPIs are less likely to immediately be Sales Revenue and more likely based around softer measures like top two consideration in brand recall or brand awareness. Concentrate on what success for a single KPI looks like for your business.
  • Understand what your audience looks like and how to reach them. Existing customers? New customers? Expanding your base? Existing customers can be reached through CRM. For new customers, broadcast is often the most efficient way to reach them. For retailers outside of Grocery, digital channels should drive to e-commerce.
  • Most customers can be reached through TV. Communicating a strong upper-funnel message and the overall saliency of the brand are considerations.
  • PPC is great for lower funnel. At the moment, as most retailers are pivoting to an online model, PPC is vital.


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