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Coronavirus Marketing

Stephen Lepitak: Why the current pandemic is an opportunity to change business processes


By Stephen Lepitak, -

March 3, 2020 | 5 min read

So, you know the reason. And you know that precautions need to be taken in order to safeguard the health of others to battle this pandemic that, at the time of writing, still feels very much at the start over in the western world.

M&A activity last year totaled $27.7bn, compared to $32.6bn in 2018

Why the current pandemic is an opportunity to change business processes

The world is spooked and the business sector is hurting globally while governments try to figure out containment of the coronavirus. And in some countries it looks like that spread is being contained - however, there’s no knowing how this will develop and as a result, unless you’re a producer of hand soaps and tissues, it’s going to hurt your business.

What will happen to industry events?

Advertising will feel that pain and that will trickle down throughout the entire sector, and no doubt mean that the awards and conferences sectors will experience uncertainty for at least the next 12 months. When one to one meetings are being reconsidered it’s only natural that large gatherings will be treated suspiciously and as a result, the casualties have been significant; Mobile World Congress, Adobe Summit have succumbed, even some of our own conferences in APAC have been postponed despite being much smaller by comparison.

Other major events are also at risk; SXSW and Advertising Week Europe loom this month and are both under scrutiny. There’s a huge amount of responsibility on organizers here and it’s the toughest of decisions to make with ticket and sponsorship revenue potentially placing livelihoods at stake. The performance of a business for the entire year can hinge on these events taking place - but when there are health implications at stake, is it really a matter for discussion? Looking further ahead to Cannes, there is hope that the confidence and attitudes of people and companies will return to the level that people are confident to gather by then should this pandemic prove short term. However, that confidence will still be a big concern, although the warm summer months may just be the curer. It's hard to know what will happen next week never mind later this year right now.

The continued need for marketing

The level of lockdown in China has shown how significant a threat this virus could be and the uncertainty around it remains great - and while hysteria should be avoided - it’s still the duty of care of all businesses to look after their staff and customers over anything else.

The need for the marketing and media sectors to continue will be great however and the long-held theory that remote working through mobile technology is likely to be truly tested in the coming months. Marketers will still need places to develop their knowledge and understanding of the industry and they will still need to be able to benchmark against the rest. The marketers will also be called upon to heighten efforts and must now be reconsidering plans for the year as everyday behaviors are forcibly altered.

Businesses cannot stop working as best they know, and the widespread need for service promotion will continue to be crucial.

Working from home

What happens over the coming months could develop new workflows and processes for businesses and be a catalyst for change and perhaps for the better. We will need to embrace technology to work remotely and communicate from home but it doesn’t mean productivity must drop as a result. Home wifi will come under strain as productivity shifts to the living rooms across the world, and whether the business world can finally achieve one video conference call without the first 10 minutes being spent trying to sort the volume on one participant’s computer will also perhaps finally be achieved (but I doubt it.)

If you have colleagues working in Asia, ask them about their experiences and what they’ve learned from recent weeks. There will be lessons to take forward.

Monitor news and government updates but also look at your own organizational processes but read up on what other businesses are doing to prepare and carry on too. There will be streamlining that occurs and you’ll learn what you can and cannot live without in order to do your own job.

The working world may be set for change, but it’ll take effort all around for businesses to come out as healthy as your staff hopefully will too.

Will I see you in Cannes in June? I sure hope so.

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