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INsight #185 - The Market: It's where we do business

As the long COVID-19 health and economic dramas continue to make the current shutdown a marathon, marketing teams continue to search for a light in the darkness. Teams were so smart just a few months ago. Now, they are lost, challenged by C-Suite management that keeps asking “what’s next” instead of “what if.”

In INsight #185, I said, “Marketing teams are realizing that everything they thought they knew is no longer right. Confusion grows as teams grapple how to manage what is happening to their consumer bases now, and when the current “new” normal may not be the new normal long-term.” This week, I want to build on this theme, and shine a light into the darkness.

Why is “The Market” so important? Because it’s where every brand does business. Too often, it is a forgotten landscape. Most marketing teams realize that the market landscape is going to change. To date, no one has really come close to determining what those changes will be and how each brand will do business.

INsight #1: Marketing has to build a new framework around the market that will include the new market landscape. In a Zoom session last week with some very diverse marketing professionals, one said she is telling her clients that competition is not changing. I suggested that might be a flawed positioning because some of them may not survive. The market landscape is going to change. Some of the ideas that follow came from this session.

Marketing needs to take the lead to influence each company’s leadership to recognize there will be a market shift, and while no one knows its dimensions, the team has to involve every part of the organization to engage in “scenario planning.” This is not a new concept, but has long been shelved because so much marketing planning was based on a regurgitating autopilot.

INsight #2: Scenario planning allows the marketing team to outline multiple ways change will unfold. It is a given that every brand’s market landscape will be different. Scenario planning has to cast a wide net and will create a lot of complex paths affecting every department of the organization. It’s difficult work, but the benefits of understanding the market are significant.

While there may be a wealth of data to support multiple market landscape scenarios, if it is yesterday’s data, it is old. The new sales presentation created in January as part of its 2020 business plan is probably obsolete. Key takeaway: When the market changes, the message has to change. Now is the time to begin creating new message strategies for employees and customers. Assume that for every market scenario, a different content strategy will be needed.

INsight #3: Every marketing team should begin its scenario planning process by asking, “Will the pandemic cause a permanent shift in our market landscape?” In other words, what will be the pandemic’s short and long-term impact on economic behavior?

The old rules for understanding consumers’ economic behavior probably will not apply as new rational responses are influenced by higher risks to health and finances. Many marketing teams are thinking that once a vaccine is available for everyone, America will go back to the roaring 2019s and preexisting preferences will again determine consumer decisions, with their economic behavior comparable to the past. Key takeaway: That’s probably not going to happen and your market will be altered.

Marketing teams need to get serious about scenario planning, not focusing about “what’s next” but about “what if.” There can never be too many well-constructed scenarios. Each week, there will be new relevant data reflecting the short term direction this pandemic is moving. Marketing can then begin eliminating those scenarios that do not fit the new data, and refine the ones left.

If you are are bored with your stay-at-home routine, and have no more weeds to pull, walls to paint and recipes to try, contact me by replying to this e-marketing newsletter. Together, we’ll plan a new EndGame scenario for your market landscape.

The EndGame: New thinking. New vision. New energy.©

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