Importance of digital marketing during a global crisis

As New Zealand goes into lockdown, we are seeing a growing importance to have a structured digital strategy and presence that clearly represents a brand. The recents events will be a trying time for businesses to succeed or fail, and there is no better time to capture market share and build awareness digitally when people are working from home. 

The COVID-19 crisis has led to both businesses and families scrambling to understand how it will impact their future as we see the economic impact take effect globally. With unprecedented event cancelations and limited face to face meetings, we are seeing businesses forced to break protocol and work from home whilst leveraging technology like Zoom and Skype… will this lead to more businesses adopting home work after we recover from COVID-19?

Every business will be impacted differently, where it is important we look for the opportunities arising from uncontrollable events like the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a range of examples we will discuss including the swift recovery of China.

Building a digital home

Although travel and trade has been heavily restricted, now is the time you will see businesses researching how they can improve systems within their business. Further, the public are restricted to being at home, spending a greater time on digital platforms like NZ Herald, Facebook, TikTok and blogs.

So for businesses willing to adapt and invest in their digital presence, they will see substantial returns both in the short and long term. Whether their focus is primarily B2B or B2C, businesses will need to interact without events, activations, trade shows and exhibitions.

In the short term, a lot of brands with limited organic presence will rely on pay-per click methods like Google Ads to get in front of their audience. However, as the value of their website pays off, content marketing and technical SEO will help take businesses to the next level. These methods take time, where it is critical you provide authentic content people want to read.

Plan for the Future

No-one can plan for the implications of pandemics, wars or natural disasters but to have a sustainable business, it is important you continually plan for these events. Businesses around the world have lost millions from canceled sporting events like the Olympics, Rugby Championship, Pacifica and Field Days where they cannot recoup from the time and monetary investment made already.

This means there are two positives to come from this

  1. Surplus money: Businesses will have surplus money which was planned to be spent on events which we can expect to be spent on digital mediums
  2. Community Engagement: Once we overcome COVID-19 the public will be looking for ways to be apart of the community and enjoy the outdoors

Right now the majority of businesses are in crisis responses, however we can expect businesses to be very quickly planning and executing a strategy to recover from the cashflow deficit.

In China, some of the fastest-recovering companies proactively anticipated government steps and restrictions where they achieved quicker recovery then competitors and taking greater market share. For example, in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, Master Kong, a leading instant noodle and beverage producer, reprioritized its supply channels as things escalated and prioritised O2O (online-to-offline), e-commerce, and smaller stores compared to traditional large retailers. This shift enabled them to continue production and as larger retailers cooped with increased demand they adapted their supply chain. As a result, its “supply chain recovered by more than 50% just a few weeks after the outbreak, and it was able to supply 60% of the stores that were reopened during this period” — three times as many as some competitors.

Live Events & Activations

There is already a huge demand for live experiences as the majority of events have been canceled between March-May. Larger events are impacted greater, with events over 500 not allowed in New Zealand until further notice where we have recently seen the 2020 Japan Olympics being postponed until 2021. Locally we have seen events across sports (ANZ Netball Premiership, Corona Piha Pro, ISPS Football Championship), business (Field Days, Pacifica) and music (Iron Maden, Lenny Kravitz, So Pop) all either canceled or postponed.

There is a huge opportunity for brands wanting to activate in the 2020/21 summer, which will enable great content creation, brand engagement and spending in the economy. Further, through clear brand positioning, fast movers will capture market share, providing great opportunities for small to medium businesses.

A great example of this is how Tip Top Ice Cream Company has recently partnered with Waterbourne, New Zealand's biggest beach festival for the 2021 summer. This not only ensures they activate and sell products in an iconic Auckland location, it enables them to be on the front foot for the upcoming summer season.

Innovate or be left behind

The commercial landscape has never evolved so quickly and it is critical that products cater to customer needs. This provides the opportunity for simple innovation and creative marketing strategies which can be seen within the generally conservative insurance industry.

This can be seen with Ant Financial who provided free coronavirus-related coverage to its products. This led to mass awareness of their business where they generated a 30% increase in health insurance income from February, compared to the previous month.

Esports have now been included as an official sport, allowing for the TAB to add this to their portfolio. During a time where traditional sports are unavailable globally, this has helped a struggling TAB to provide a new offering where Duane Mutu from LetsPlay.Live is excited to have esport (revenue reaching over $1billion dollars in 2019) available to people from home during COVID-19.