Written marketing plans are obsolete before they’re printed.

QUICK READ: The pandemic crisis created a host of new challenges for brand teams as plans quickly change and evolve. In fact, 56% of a survey respondents indicated that managing shifting priorities or strategies as the top challenge. Consumers are going to change their spending habits, but they’re also going to remember which brand/corporations used their tax dollars to bail them out while they used tax breaks to enrich investors and CEO’s.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. The changing marketing environment is going to be tough for big bloated brands to navigate. 42% of market leaders mentioned that their marketing teams lacked the bandwidth to quickly adapt to shifting priorities and create new content. That, quite frankly, is unacceptable.

Even when the economy begins to reopen the scars of this pandemic are going to run deep. Consumers are forced to realize that the government is not going to provide the help they really need and that the only ones they can depend on is themselves. I believe this is going to mean more savings and less splurging.

When it comes to spending, many respondents will be taking a more conservative approach with their consumption habits, including putting off medium to large purchases and services:

  • 49% plan to delay travel
  • 44% plan to delay medical or dental procedures
  • 24% plan to delay home improvements or repairs
  • 24% plan to delay large purchases
  • 12% plan to delay car repairs


What do respondents plan to do with the money they’re conserving? Almost half (42%) indicated that they will be trying to save more during the next six months, with renters leading the charge at 47%. 

Now, according to a press release I just read consumers appreciate brand empathy when it comes to this economic crisis. I’m not sure that I’m on board with that. Brands that are allowing consumers to delay payments until much later will do well, but brands that just say “we understand” while laying off thousands of employees are not going to fare well.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, corporations were borrowing money like mad, capitalizing on the Fed’s bargain-basement interest rates. Total business debt topped $16tn last year. Consumers are not dumb and know this. Corporations used much of this debt to buy back their own shares of stock. This raised the earnings of each remaining share, creating a bonanza for big investors and top executives.

Take the airlines. Over the past five years, four big airlines and the aerospace giant Boeing spent more than $70bn buying back their own stock, putting them deep in debt. If they hadn’t binged on buybacks, they’d be better equipped to weather this storm.

Marriott just furloughed most of their employees after they paid 170 million to investors. Are consumers supposed to be OK with that?

Some CEO’s think they are being empathetic when they say they’re giving up their salaries for the month or year, but let’s be real: they can afford to give up their salaries for the year because they make so much.

Empathy is NOT a branding tactic; it’s a way of adapting to changing consumers who have more information on how corporations act including the compensation of top executives.

To a point some consumers will start spending once the anxiety is over, but they are never going to forget which brands acted like nothing was wrong and which ones tried to extend a helping hand, especially to front line responders.

You can just take that marketing plan you spent so much time on and throw it in the trash. Written marketing plans are obsolete before they’re printed.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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