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Marketing in the Time of Corona

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Sumit Lakhani, CMO, Awfis lists the top trends driving the marketing function in Real Estate companies during the pandemic

It took one virus a couple of weeks to completely shift the way the world operates. Old habits are giving way to new ones as people are forced to stay at home and put paramount importance on the basic needs, health & hygiene of their family members. Businesses are facing extraordinary challenges and consumer behaviour is transitioning from extravagance to essentials, thereby creating a whole new world of customers ready for brands to unearth. Given these new changes in consumer preferences, some sectors like pharmaceuticals, FMCG, e-commerce, technology, online entertainment are witnessing unprecedented demand while others like travel, transportation, retail, real estate, manufacturing and construction are seeing a sudden decline in demand.

As businesses shift priorities, marketing too is undergoing significant changes in this evolving situation.  Always seen as a support function, marketing is gradually becoming core to running a successful business. Marketing is transcending the traditional boundaries and becoming the anchor that is bringing together functions like strategy, product, analytics, technology, and customer experience to drive innovation and customer centricity within organizations.  Especially in real estate companies, while the role of marketing was already evolving, Covid-19 has accelerated the whole process making it stand out as the “Jack of all trades, and Master of some”.

Here is a quick list of the top trends driving the marketing function in Real Estate companies during the pandemic:

Marketing Is Bringing Customers Closer To The Brand Than Ever:

Brands need to be more cautious than ever in their communication with customers, emanating empathy and transparency in just the right amount. Marketing as the custodian of the brand has taken a centre stage in all kinds of communication going out to customers, partners & stakeholders across multiple channels ensuring consistency in the brand voice. The marketing team has become the first responders, whether it is crafting new ways of communication or being part of a Central Response Team to provide consistent messaging to customers. It can be the anchor, the voice of stability in such uncertain times.

Marketing Is Driving Innovation:

As the function that is critical to uncovering eye-opening customer insights, marketing is playing a key role in not just evaluating the changing customer behaviour but also anticipating future customer needs. Marketing is at the front & centre of driving innovation to address the new reality. To survive, we know businesses have had to pivot, and the marketing teams have been instrumental in not just developing a ‘Go to Market’ strategy but also in product design & development from the onset.

Marketing Will Become The Primary Channel For Demand Generation:

With limited budgets, zero business travel & social distancing norms in play, this is the time for marketing to hustle and step up to become the primary demand generation engine for the organisation. Sales will depend on marketing to enhance their reach and bring prospective customers closer to the table.

Digital Marketing Will Rule The Roost:

Marketing media mix will become more skewed towards digital media. While the overall marketing spends for real estate have reduced significantly, there is a shift from high investment channels like print, electronic & OOH to Digital for its cost effectiveness. Conventional marketing will continue to see decreased spend even post Covid-19 but Digital will see a considerable increase in spends by 50-60% in the future as brands will learn to look at it as the best marketing tool promising ROI evaluation. Most companies who haven’t experienced the power of digital media yet are using this time to lay the groundwork to engage with customers digitally, be it through mapping the customer e-journey, creating 360 views or enabling online payments to attract more customers in the absence of site visits.

Lean Marketing Teams Will Stay Settled:

Marketing should always be focussed on driving maximum value for the business with greater ROI. Even in the wake of widespread budget cuts & downsizing across departments, if you work with a lean central marketing team and a network of consultants, you’re keeping the fixed costs limited thereby cushioning your team against any furloughs or layoffs.

Even though the world is looming under the clouds of uncertainty, businesses that are staying focussed on building customer trust and empathy, constantly re-inventing, shifting to new priorities with agility and staying true to their purpose will see a bright rode at the end of this tunnel. Marketing has and will continue to play a pivotal role in helping businesses stay nimble and transition quickly to the new normal.

About the author / 

Sumit Lakhani

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