Or if you prefer: COVID-19 – An Opportunity for Marketers to Shine

What if marketers started a revolution and made it our mission to prove that all the economists are wrong? What if we said no to the financial market hysteria and instead stepped up and demonstrated that this is a perfect moment to be innovative and creative. Marketers this is your moment to shine, not to be confined by past behavioural patterns or historic trends.

Nothing in the future can be predicted by past prevailing tendencies. There are no precedents or models for what we are currently going through. The rules that we accepted before COVID-19, may no longer apply. The only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know.

Marketers need to ask – what we can do to save businesses and protect jobs? We need to be ready to adapt, become visionaries and take on new business models.

The great news is that it is already happening. Rather than postulate on what could be done. I would like to share some mini case studies which I have come across that may give you some inspiration.

Case 1: Changing distribution channels
The Business: Pierogi Pierogi – a market / event-based food business.
With the closure of markets and various events like festivals, the owners of Pierogi Pierogi quickly adapted to the new climate by moving to a new business model by changing their distribution channel. They initially targeted home delivery. Using their existing social media networks, they communicated the changes to loyal customers who were now mostly housebound.
In addition, packaging was introduced, now Pierogi Pierogi are able to offer their product through retail food outlets which still have access to the public, providing reach to new customers.

Case 2: Changing customer base
The BusinessUniversity Meat – a family run wholesale butcher established in heart of “Little Italy”, Carlton, Victoria, over 50 years.
As a wholesale butcher, University meats supplied foodservice customers including leading caterers, restaurants, hotels, stadiums and institutions. With the inevitability of the downturn in sales through this segment University meats turned to a new customer – the consumer. On 18 March 2020, they launched ‘For Home’. Ii comprises an online store offering beef, lamb, pork, chicken, sausages, cooked meats and small goods in 1kg pack sizes.
Based on their reputation, they have changed their business model by offering “restaurant quality meat directly to the local community” whilst utilising their existing structure of farmers, supply chain and employees.

Case 3: Sleeping giant
Business: Iconic Live – a technical events production and events management company
With a strong background in technology, “2 years ago we (Iconic Live) set out with a goal to develop a toolset that allows conferences to be delivered virtually”.
Today the events industry has been hit hard. Events are being cancelled; huge money is being lost. The new offering that Iconic Live is presenting is not just the technology as a solution but a 30-minute free virtual conference planning consultation to demonstrate how they can successfully convert an existing conference from “the personal to the virtual”. This is a high involvement decision on the part of the conference organiser. To reduce this perceived risk, they are adding a personal element to enable the conference organiser better understand the benefits of the technology.

Case 4: Partnerships
Northside Fruit & Vegetables – a Melbourne based wholesale produce provider supplying premium local produce to restaurants.
Like other wholesale suppliers, with restaurants turnover significantly reduced, sales were going to be impacted with a flow-on effect to their suppliers. Northside created an online direct to consumer platform offering “fruit and veg boxes” home delivery service.
Having limited exposure to the end consumer, they embarked on an initiative to work with their clients to assist them. Businesses like Theodore’s restaurant or Smith & Deli are making these boxes available to their customers.

These case studies are great examples of innovation in the face of adversity, as the proverb states ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. As marketers we are trained to evaluate what we have got, what are the opportunities and then how do we get there. With these core skills, it is our moment to shine and show how we can assist businesses to survive, and maybe even thrive in these times of unchartered waters.

By Izabella Kobylanski, Principal, Planning Results

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