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Why agility and innovation are key to marketing resilience

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for all organisations. Those organisations that have adapted and innovated during lockdown are well placed to survive – possibly thrive – as the recovery takes hold.

Predictions from the Bank of England show Britain bouncing back with the economy expected to expand by more than a fifth, which would be by far the fastest rise since records began.

Marketers are equally hopeful for a speedy recovery as a new study reveals company marketing plans for the end of this year as well as staff attitudes.

The research is a part of an ongoing study by Econsultancy and Marketing Week on the business impact of COVID-19, where the perspectives of more than 1000 marketers from small businesses to large enterprises are gathered monthly.

Findings show that companies are taking more concrete steps to change customer and supplier policies, such as getting closer to their customers while safeguarding contracts. Many of those surveyed have changed their marketing strategies to improve communication and have created a team specifically to deal with the implications of COVID-19.

And although larger enterprises have been keen to slash marketing budgets, encouragingly, SMEs have shown a stronger focus on new product launches and marketing campaigns as their vehicle to recovery. Almost half (44%) of SMEs are increasing budgets and prioritising product launches for the second half of this year with a further 21% increasing their focus on marketing commitments for the remainder of 2020.

When marketers were asked ‘how their organisation is approaching budget and priorities’, more than half of ALL businesses (55%) said they are increasing strategic initiatives such as digital transformation and restructuring.

Lockdown accelerated the increase of online consumer activities across digital channels, with many businesses adapting their products and services to quickly satisfy demand. Data from the Office of National Statistics reveals that online retail sales are now 50.4% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Lockdown also had an impact on innovation. In fact, 90% of marketers said that this period has emphasised the priority of digital transformation within their business. For example, some retailers have created entirely new product ranges that are only available online with exclusive discounts for online shoppers.

Evidently, technology and digital infrastructure will become a key part of the sales funnel for many companies this year. It’s no surprise therefore that 57% of large enterprises agree that their business now has a clear theory on how the sector that they operate within is going to evolve, with 45% of marketers from small businesses also agreeing to the sentiment.

Rapid recovery, or risky business? What is clear from the research is that marketers are investing lessons learned back into the business to reset strategy and build resilience.

Further Reading
Agility vs. innovation: how SME and enterprise marketers have responded to Covid-19 [survey], econsultancy
Britain’s economy on course for rapid recovery from coronavirus crisis, predicts Bank of England chief, Mail online
Retail sales, Great Britain: July 2020, Office for National Statistics