Many marketers have come to terms with the disruption of their best laid plans for a glorious summer of 2020 Olympics activity. Businesses have reallocated budgets and reevaluated their marketing strategies in order to navigate this unfamiliar territory.
Indeed, 69% of brands say they expect to decrease their ad spend in 2020, and 89% of large multinational companies have deferred marketing campaigns in May.
Even in the midst of uncertainty, businesses have been experimenting with different solutions to new challenges; like the boom in online shopping and rapidly changing consumer habits. In April, Universal Studios took the bold step of releasing its Trolls: World Tour sequel on streaming platforms after worldwide cinema closures.
This pivot from the film’s original cinematic release earned the studio nearly $100 million dollars in digital sales in the first three weeks – reportedly more revenue than the original Trolls’ entire domestic theatrical takings.
But some brands are taking a different approach by revisiting marketing techniques that they have always helped them produce strong business results. These are the solid cornerstones of marketing that can be implemented, adapted and scaled to attract and retain customers, even in uncertain times.
We take a look at three tried and tested marketing techniques that are experiencing a revival in 2020.
Direct to Consumer Marketing
One of the only marketing techniques that is even more effective today than it was at the start of the pandemic. This became apparent when the unexpected panic buying spree forced brands to look at alternative ways to meet consumer demand directly.
Heinz for instance, took the direct to consumer approach and made some of its most popular products like spaghetti hoops and baked beans available on ‘Heinz to Home’, its first ever UK online shop.
This approach appealed to both loyal Heinz customers who had struggled to find products in stores and those who weren’t able to visit stores. The brand turned the change in consumer behaviour – limited movement – into an opportunity to enter the eCommerce market for the first time.
With uncertainties around whether retail will ever go back to ‘normal’, clever brands can emulate Heinz’s direct to consumer strategy for their own success. The main advantage of using direct to consumer at this time is that the full customer experience (products, service and brand messaging) is sent directly to responsive consumers – from the brand.
And as we transition out of lockdown, brands will be able to use this initial period of uncertainty to ‘test and learn’ and build credible online brand awareness, with a view to building a wider-ranging direct to consumer offering in the long term.
Content marketing is thriving in 2020 as more brands up the ante on providing added value for customers during lockdown. Dixons Carphone for example, realised that their audience was looking for content to help them to better understand their tech purchases.
So their content marketing switched to an ‘inform and educate’ model by sharing pieces like how to improve WiFi in the garden. The content changes were designed to suit their customer’s new behaviours (working from home for example) and not just sell products to them.
Thanks to the popularity of social media platforms, video content has become a great way to engage with audiences. The lockdown success of Joe Wicks ‘The Body Coach’ free daily workout YouTube videos shows that they can be an effective way to boost brand visibility.
And the short-form format of platforms like TikTok has proved to be a great way to engage with younger audiences that may be more receptive to the instant gratification of bite size videos.
Whether the format is video, podcast or blog post, content marketing should always contain meaningful, valuable material that will resonate with your audience. It is crucial that the content is relevant to your business and makes the audience feel connected to the brand.
The high quality of content being produced shows that content is once again “king” and there might be no going back to mediocre content marketing.
With more Zoom calls, online quizzes and digital socialising than ever, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that consumers have become used to a more ‘fun’ element to their lives. And it appears to include their marketing communications.
If recent campaigns are anything to go by, it seems this is the path that all the big brands players are taking. Even formal marketing stalwarts like the traditional banks are launching less formal advertising campaigns– a prime example is Barclays’ recent foray into selfie videos.
And it appears that the lack of ‘polish’ on the UGC ads on TikTok isn’t phasing anyone. In other sectors, it’s gamification galore with Vodafone and Virgin Media urging their customers to stay connected during the crisis.
All this points towards an emerging trend of audiences becoming more receptive to less sleek, more playful content across sectors.
The human element of Gamification is likely to appeal to audiences for the rest of the year; a sign that it’s still important for marketers to promote the human element of their businesses during this crisis and beyond.