Reinvention Post COVID-19: Maximise Your Marketing Spend

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Home > Articles > Reinvention Post COVID-19: Maximise Your Marketing Spend

 Reinvention Post COVID-19: Maximise Your Marketing Spend

Louise Robinson & Daryll Cahill | Today's Manager
March 1, 2021
To succeed, post-COVID-19, small businesses need to understand and take charge of their marketing.

Disruption from COVID-19 so far has been, and is likely to continue on to be, cataclysmic. Many aspects and sectors of international trade and business have been upended, destabilised, weakened, or even rendered defunct. Who would have thought that in the second decade of the 21st Century, numerous first world nations would have seen widespread panic shopping around, and even violence in supermarkets because of a fear of toilet paper shortage?

At the national level, COVID-19 has disrupted whole economic sectors, mirroring its international impact, and also led to immense, often very sudden, alterations to fundamental social activities. It is difficult to fully determine the entirety of what COVID-19 has caused to change. Perhaps it is even more difficult, but very important, to now understand why it had this impact and how, if possible, it is to seek some positives from the experience.

To do this, it is essential to examine the term “disruption”. For example: has COVID-19 highlighted utterly unknown flaws in the global and national approaches to commerce, or has it revealed fundamental weaknesses and inefficiencies that had been evident for some time but not taken seriously or even ignored? Knowing which of these factors is being dealt with will help ensure that the transition to the post-COVID 19 era is done effectively and productively. One caution: it is entirely possible that both of these factors are present. That is, in tracking the impact of COVID-19, one sector of the economy might have been severely hurt due to repercussions nobody had ever previously thought of; however, another sector might have been injured due to structural flaws evident, but not addressed, for years.

Addressing the impact of COVID-19 also means not just reacting to the loudest voices or the biggest players. In the last two decades, the small- and medium-sized business enterprises (SMEs), including family-owned companies and sole proprietors, has proven to be a powerful engine of growth, inter-generational prosperity and innovation, often at the very same time that large corporations are floundering or losing traction. The Singaporean Government, through its “Re-Align Framework”, is seeking to provide to SMEs a pathway to move beyond COVID-19 via means of reviewing and renewing business models and renegotiating contractual obligations.

While COVID-19 is based on the evolving epidemiological aspects of the actual coronavirus, its monumental i
mpact globally can be totally slated to human behaviour; that is, to how humans have reacted to it. As individuals and as a society, a community, a polity; the real story, tragic and heroic and all points in-between, is what each of us has done and continue to do. For business, in how customers have interacted with businesses, real change has occurred. Consumers everywhere have learned to shop for all manner of goods and services on-line. Many consumers have found, perhaps to their surprise, that this is their preferred way of transacting; a significant number of them are unlikely to return to the pre-COVID-19 style of shopping. The role of marketing in business has changed—how it is done, what it does, and who it is targeted by it has changed.

For SMEs, in revitalising their business and providing a foundation to succeed, marketing is a vital activity. It allows ongoing productive engagement with current customers. It also is the way to win and retain new ones. In building a portfolio of customers, SMEs will need market themselves. However, the barrage of terms used in marketing, business development, sales, communications, and advertising are confusing. If misunderstood, they may waste valuable resources and not achieve desired outcomes. With the plethora of specialist advisors in these areas, critical questions arise: why the need for these specialisations and how can SMEs effectively utilise them to attract new and retain current customers, without breaking the bank, demoralising staff, and confusing the marketplace.

To focus marketing efforts, it is important to first understand the specialisations involved and how they work in order to focus efforts and maximise their marketing dollar.

  • ​Marketing can be defined as devising and utilising a ​range of tactics that will assist in selling products or services to specific target groups. Marketing tactics can be founded on provision of solutions to problems faced by organisations or customers—these solutions may result in digital presence: Web, social media updates, brochures, sales spiels, credentials statements, or presentations;
  • Business development is about understanding customers and targets in a systematic manner and then devising appropriate strategies to meet these external needs. Business development is designed to maintain customers and recurring revenues and understand generation of new revenues from existing customers or strategically selected targets: existing products can be repackaged and sold, new products might enhance the offerings to attract customers;
  • Communications can broadly be divided into two categories; externally focussed (to the marketplace) or internal (to staff);
  •  External communications activities include media and public relations, production of brochures, capability statements, speeches and presentations, Internet or E-mail and direct marketing activities to increase knowledge of your business name and reputation to customers and targets in the marketplace;
  • Internal communications involves internal messaging and use of staff meetings, noticeboards, Intranets, E-mail, in-house publications, voicemails, or posters. Internal communications are important, to ensure that messages conveyed to the external marketplace are known and reinforced by all staff;
  • Sales create introductions to prospective customers with a view to turning them into regulars. In contacting prospects, sales staff may source internally, industry contacts or specialised staff aims for face-to-face contact to understand issues from which to provide solutions; and
  • Advertising provides information about the products and benefits, business, and unique value proposition. It often involves different types of media: digital and print based advertising, point of sale information, catalogues, flyers—inserts in publications or handouts, commercials on radio, Web sites, billboards, and posters.
For SMEs, all these elements are important in growing and maintaining an existing customer base. The key to utilising specialist marketing consultants is first to understand the business need and assess the desired outcome for attracting or retaining customers. From this basis, SMEs can then effectively match the outcome with the skills required and hence maximise their marketing spend.

Louise Robinson is a Fulbright scholar researching 21st century skills and an executive leader within the Technical and Vocational Education & Training sector in Australia. She is currently the Executive Director, Industry & Growth at Victoria University.


Daryll Cahill has been a senior academic in business and accounting, working across Australia and South-East Asia for nearly three decades.


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