As COVID-19 arrived last spring, brands of all sizes cut their marketing efforts to preserve budgets and profits.
Awareness efforts, in particular, quickly took a back seat as even massive multinationals like Coca-Cola, General Motors and Netflix slammed the brakes on their brand building.*
After more than a year of living in a pandemic, the world is acclimating to new realities, and marketers need to think about using both activation and brand marketing tactics instead of doubling down on the former. There is no short-selling the importance of being able to engage those who are ready to purchase, but effective marketing needs more than mid- and lower-funnel activations—even in a pandemic.
Conversion-oriented marketing has been the marketing industry darling for some time. It’s attractive because it drives sales in this quarter, not the next—and immediate gratification carries weight. Shortening CMO tenures and reporting cycles exacerbate this trend, as a focus on near-term sales—and the ability to measure the impact of conversion marketing—serves to grow investments in these strategies. By contrast, the sales impact of upper-funnel
marketing can take time to fully materialize. Marketers assuming that half their marketing is working, per John Wanamaker’s old adage, would be inclined to say that lower-funnel marketing is the only half that matters.

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