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Defining Brand

Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

We are in this together

Apr 6, 2020

The highly respected Mark Ritson, famous for his Marketing Week column and teaching on MBA programmes at London Business School and MIT, this week gave a briefing on marketing in the time of coronavirus. We encourage you to register at Marketing Week to watch the next briefing in full or watch the recording of the first one.

If you don't have time to watch it, or want a quick summary first - we've jotted down the key points that we took from it. Much echoes our previous blog post about leadership actions during a crisis such as this. 

Our key take outs of the briefing by Ritson were:

  1. There will be three phases of the crisis for businesses

  2. Much of the marketing industry was under-prepared because they focus on just communications, not the full marketing mix

  3. Now is absolutely the time to think about long-term marketing plans

Phases of Crisis

The three phases Ritson spoke about started with the current crisis phase, where tactical responses are necessary and it gives us all a time for a "strategic time out". This is expected to last for anything from three to 18 months, after which comes the "false pneuma", where all the spin will come that the world will never be the same again and everything will change forever. Ritson's simple view was - it won't. Realistically, he suggested, the 'new normal' will be the final phase, "exogenous recession"

Within this exogenous recession, having a brand in a strong position was suggested to be not only a system of defence to use immediately as the crisis starts to curtail, but also ongoing; with the evidence presented on share prices of strong-brands versus merely large well-known businesses like those in S&P 500. 

The Marketing Industry Is Under-Prepared

Something Ritson is passionate about is that marketers are properly trained. We couldn't agree more. What became evident for many brands in the crisis was that this lack of full marketing mix training meant marketers had only one lever to pull - communications. Unfortunately, as Ritson explains, sending out some quirky tweets is not what will pull brands through these times of marketing crisis into business recovery.

Long-Term Planning In the Crisis Phase is Critical

The principles of marketing strategy still apply. Consideration to measures such as how Share of Voice impacts on Market Share are as important now as ever. As other brands reduce their share of voice, maintaining or even growing yours creates Excess Share of Voice which - according to the theory - then finds equilibrium with an increase in Market Share for your brand. 

Ritson has since written a long article in Marketing Week on this topic, if you have the time it's worth a read too. We highly recommend watching the video linked at the top of this post. 

The Brand Strategy has launched a specific support programme aimed at supporting businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. This includes crisis management, crisis business planning and strategic marketing planning for your brand. 

The Brand Strategy is also encouraging fundraising for NHS Charities Together who support the incredible efforts of the staff and volunteers of the NHS on the front-line.