SUMMARY: Marketing strategy is an essential part of business planning, but in these uncertain times, your strategy has to be flexible. Brands need to change course rapidly to leverage competitive advantages, but organizations are not built for speed, which is a huge problem.
At this time of year, many brands are busy preparing marketing strategies that are outdated as soon as they are printed. There is no lack of information about how the pandemic is changing consumer behavior, but nobody knows when or if consumers will go back to prepandemic behaviors.
The one constant is that brands are going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto market share even if it effects their profitability at a time when private label sales are increasing in double digits.
Your strategy is a map of how you’re going to meet brand and business objectives. You shouldn’t, however, remain inflexible when your business intelligence indicates that the market is changing.
In most cases deviating from your strategy requires weeks or months of meetings and presentations. Consumers aren’t that patient. They are looking for brands that respond to their needs, which can be everything from understanding that money is tight to wanting brands to be better corporate citizens.
To help brands anticipate opportunities and threats, they should conduct competitive gaming scenarios. Competitive gaming is getting into your competitors’ minds and asking how they would “attack your brand” or defend their share. You need to be ready to respond and respond quickly.
Consumers are different. A viral social media post can either hurt your brand or increase the market share of your competition. Your market research people should be monitoring social media to see what people are saying about you and your competitors. Keep in mind that you don’t have to respond to every comment, just the ones gaining buzz via a tool to listen to the buzz.
A great example is the supplement market. A client was getting ready to launch a marketing campaign around their new, highly purified fish oil brand. Unfortunately, the media has been pouncing on the news that fish oil with headlines “failed study spawns fresh debate about fish-oil-derived drugs for heart disease. As of right now, my client is panicking and has decided to postpone his campaign until he can restrategize the product launch.
In a market like supplements, brands need to be ready to respond to media stories and answer buyers who may want to reduce SKUs because they feel sales will decline on the bad news.
It’s more important than ever for brands to streamline processes to respond quickly to changing market conditions. Strategy is important but spending a lot of hours on developing a strategy is a huge waste of time.