RRD Reveals Key Takeaways for Marketers Navigating the New Normal of COVID-19
The marketing solutions provider details where the industry is headed based on its work with 85% of the Fortune 500
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD), a leading global provider of multichannel solutions for marketing and business communications, shared the impact of COVID-19 on the marketing industry and considerations for marketers in the months ahead. RRD, which was recently ranked at #7 in the U.S. Ad Age Agency Report, drew these insights from its work with 85% of the Fortune 500 on everything from direct marketing campaigns and creative execution to retail solutions and data and analytics services.
“Marketing, just like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down in the last few weeks”
When the nation was gripped by the coronavirus in mid-March, marketers were suddenly challenged to rethink their entire purpose, strategy, and goals. In the weeks and months that followed, marketers needed to react quickly and compassionately to rapidly changing circumstances. Throughout this period, RRD has served as a partner to many brands navigating these uncharted waters and has thus developed seven insights guiding marketing discussions today, including:
- Research comes to the top. Since stay-at-home orders began taking effect, RRD has seen research revenue double from prior months. Definite truths that marketers knew about audiences, campaigns, and methodologies have shifted. These changes are leading them to rely heavily on the latest research studies to better understand the new normal and their audiences’ patterns, behaviors, concerns, and aspirations, in order to inform and effectively lead future efforts from a new starting point.
- Old benchmarks tell a new story. The world has changed drastically in such a short period that directly comparing results of recent marketing activations to past, pre-COVID-19 campaigns is ineffective. Instead, marketers should use existing benchmarks as a starting point for understanding current performance and the pace of change in their respective industries and verticals.
- Brands spread positivity. Brands are looking to foster a sense of safety, security, and comfort for consumers, while also incorporating feelings of joy. The messaging may differ for brands depending on audience and focus, but the common goal is to showcase how they are standing by their customers on a more emotional level.
- Local communications are a must. Given how vastly stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements vary from city to city, what might work for one location, will not work for another. Local office and store managers need to tailor communications to the needs of their local audiences, while staying on brand and in compliance with state and local regulations and the Centers for Disease Control. The demand for this type of capability has been so high that RRD has developed the RRD Marketing Hub, a web-based tool that allows managers in the field to deliver email and direct mail tailored to their local needs leveraging corporate-approved messaging.
- Real-time data visibility is now critical. With how quickly the world is shifting, it has become essential for businesses to have visibility to a variety of real-time data from multiple sources to identify trends, determine their evolving marketing strategy, and make business decisions fast. For example, some businesses are looking at real-time data on COVID-19 cases and local consumer sentiment to determine their future marketing strategy.
- Employees are the new influencers. More than ever, employees are turning to social media to share stories on how their companies are reacting to the crisis. Some express deep appreciation and gratitude for the steps their company is taking to protect them while others are critical of their company’s stance and policies. Never before has it become so evident that employees are businesses’ number one brand ambassadors and can influence buying opinions of the general public.
- Touchless commerce is here. Despite what many think, the coronavirus will not be the end of the traditional brick and mortar store. If anything, the virus has proved that people still want to shop in-stores. Thus, touchless commerce will soon start to take shape. Retailers will get creative to make in-store shopping experiences as safe as possible by eliminating the need for touch.
“Marketing, just like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down in the last few weeks,” said Doug Ryan, President, RRD Marketing Solutions. “While we yearn to go back to the way things were, we know that things will never be the same. As marketers, we have to observe the new trends, be nimble to adjust quickly, and open to new ideas that best meet our clients’ evolving needs.”
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