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Shoring Up Marketing for 3Q and 4Q Under COVID


Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Shoring Up Marketing for 3Q and 4Q Under COVID," speaks to media preparation, which includes strategy decisions, creative choices, and the overall final push for 3rd and 4th quarter sales and branding. We are in the last days of summer 2020, with an official end date being Tuesday, September 22.  That leaves a timeline of only four weeks and three days to finalize any marketing and communications and strategies for year-end pushes.  In pre-pandemic times, most major marketing agencies have long finished 4Q creative and would have mediums booked to that end with the majority beginning work on the first quarter of 2021.  However, many creatives are still juggling efforts to shore up 3Q due to time-sensitive marketing scenarios that have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Our Quote of the Day: "Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue." — Andrew Davis, Author & Keynote Speaker, Monumental Shift

Under normal circumstances, i.e., pre-pandemic, marketing follows a timeline trajectory that targets human behavior based on repetitive attributes, such as the four seasons, weather, economic forecasts, and the overall state of the nation.  Previous purchasing behaviors have been aided and locked in by marketing communications, including the willingness for various industries to target their sales objectives during a particular timeline. Three examples include, back to school marketing, automotive sales thrust in August for next year's new models and end-of-year sales discounts in December; and, healthcare services that market the following year's health insurance plans.

It's important to remember that human behavior often aligns with the repetitive nature of industries that market their products and services at the same time every year.  Apple always presents its new product launches in September.  Computer geeks and creative types know this and plan for Apple's presentation every year.  Under the pandemic, some aspects of human behavior are subject to the economic conditions that create new opportunities.

Marketing to Folks In a Bubble

The NBA is conducting its season playoff in what they call the bubble.  All players and staff must reside in cordoned quarters, play in a single arena, with no one permitted to travel outside of the bubble.  The DNC Convention took place in a bubble-like environment with a mixture of Zoom feeds coupled with television and cable networks.  Besides, many organizations are still under stay-at-home mandates, along with voluntary shelter in place decisions.  The point is that there are a lot of "bubbles" to reach.

While some surveys indicate that customer behavior will return to pre-pandemic levels in 6-12 months, digital experiences will remain valuable indefinitely. Therefore, marketers and brands should pay close attention to evidence that consumers are moving away and towards pre-pandemic level behavior. Frankly, it's just too soon to tell which way the behavior will land, whether it is pre-pandemic or post-pandemic.

3rd Quarter Considerations

Back to School and Labor Day are upon us.  That said, it remains unclear how many schools will be entirely virtual due to coronavirus considerations, and how many will maintain person to person.  If most schools opt for remote learning, there is an opportunity for computer and broadband providers to offer special discounts for affordable internet access.  In areas where there are no broadband fiber optic resources, the satellite providers should step in.  Deep cuts can make a difference, and it's important to remember that once a customer has and uses the product, they will be hard-pressed to relinquish it later.
Labor Day is upon us as well.  In this environment, marketers can still push for specials and include any product, solution, or service that is feasible. According to Shopify, these are the products that home-bound folks have been purchasing.

  1. Peel-off face mask
  2. Nail polish
  3. Exercise bands
  4. Water bottles
  5. Blankets
  6. Yoga and Pilates mats
  7. Kayak accessories
  8. Jigsaw puzzles
  9. Kitchen and dining room furniture
  10. Rugs
  11. Board games
  12. Laptop skins

In addition, any product, service or solution that makes in-home life better, can also be added to the Labor Day push, and throughout September. Lastly, the rest of the 3Q can shore up 4Q marketing using social media, web, and e-commerce sites to offer prospects and customers multiple, up-to-date ways to purchase.  The challenge will be for marketers to cut through the digital clutter.

4th Quarter Considerations

4th Quarter offers several pre-programmed sales dates, such as Yom Kippur, Columbus Day, Halloween, Daylight Saving Time, Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah (Hanukkah falls on January 11, 2021, but marketing can start in late December).
For most organizations, 4Q is the last opportunity to make their numbers, particularly in retail, healthcare, automotive, and now food and beverage sectors. That does not mean that other industries cannot benefit from a 4Q push. Any enterprise that can offer value, benefits and deeper discounts for those sheltered in place should also do well.

One idea for sectors that lie outside of the areas mentioned above is to piggyback the offerings with, adjacent, or in conjunction with a product, service, or solution. For example, automotive sellers can team with restauranteurs to offer a combination deal, say dinner for two with a purchase, or buy one get one with the purchase of a new automobile.  Healthcare marketers could team with bedding manufacturers to offer discounts on bedding and accessories when a prospect purchases an insurance plan.

The idea is to be creative, think outside of the box, reach and market to targets that are home-bound, and be available to hear from you.

Digital from the Outside In

Marketers and brands should consider methods to target prospects and customers in a manner that ensures those digital offerings are seen, and not missed due to the sheer volume of internet traffic during the pandemic.  One of the best ways to achieve better digital response rates is through direct mail.  We've stated how direct mail has risen in stature due to its effectiveness in the digital world.  Direct mail is the highest rated medium when it comes to trustworthiness, response, and engagement rates.

The Net-Net

3rd and 4th Quarter marketing strategies are under review now, if you expect to finish the year with a flourish. Keep in mind that while we grapple with our marketing and branding efforts during this pandemic, newfound purchasing behavior has permeated the market at large.  While challenging, solving unforeseen problems that have arisen due to the pandemic represents new opportunities to reimagine, rethink, and repurpose marketing and branding strategies that have produced growth and, in no small degree, market stability over the years. Thanks for reading, "Shoring Up Marketing for 3Q and 4Q Under COVID!"

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