Picture yourself in front of the television with friends and family – or Times Square for those brave souls – anticipating the ball drop to welcome you into 2020. New goals and resolutions for sure. But the last thing anyone would have expected was a life altering global pandemic.

It’s difficult to fathom the harsh reality that everyone is experiencing through these early months of 2020. And I’m sure we all are hoping to wake up soon and return to the daily lives we enjoyed prior to COVID-19. But while most of us are in isolation now, the sense of community and collaboration is stronger than ever!

Times Are Changing

Much has already been said about the fundamental paradigm shift; how we rebuild from this, and how it will affect consumer lifestyle choices and spending patterns. These changes are especially important for brand marketers to consider. As these companies look to relaunch and adjust their marketing plans, it will be imperative for them to think about collaboration. In fact collaboration will be an important underlying theme for how brands best connect with their various communities – communities of customers and communities of fellow brands.

Marketing Funds Will Be Limited

What’s also clear is that marketing budgets will be extremely limited and constrained as companies attempt to return to some measure of profitability. In some cases, brands will barely have any marketing budget at all. However, necessity is the mother of invention as they say.

Categories Have Fared Differently

Brands that have thrived as “essential” purveyors – e.g., drugstores, grocery, wellness, home, etc. – will no doubt be making every effort to retain their newly acquired customers and build on their growth. In doing this, it will be key for them to think beyond simply increasing their marketing budgets, as many brands have already done. Thriving brands should also think about ways to leverage the new consumer eyeballs and mindshare they’ve been able to acquire, and use it as an effective marketing tool.

At the same time, those brands sidelined by the pandemic will be under different pressures in their attempts to reconnect with consumers. They will need to create relevancy, recoup losses and demonstrate a clear ROI for how this can best be achieved. Budgets will be limited for these brands. But managers will still be expected to hit the ground running.

An Essential Tool

Regardless of how your company has fared during this crisis, MARKETING PARTNERSHIPS will be an essential tool for meeting these new times head on. Just as important, NOW is the best time to plan and initiate dialog with future brand partners. Because once business is back in full swing – and it will be – the brand leaders you need to make deals with will only be less accessible.

How To Navigate

Despite the harsh reality that we are living through right now, we firmly believe that tough times don’t last: relationships do. Here are some helpful tips from the Regatta team that are specific to brands that may be thriving, or those that are struggling:

If your brand is thriving:

    1. Continue doing what you’re doing but find time to plan NOW for better brand partnerships!
    2. Look to leverage your newly enhanced audience to gain exposure with other audiences via strategic brand alliances.
    3. Think about risk assessments. With a lot of downtime during this pandemic, it’s important to stay one step ahead.

If your brand finds itself more sidelined:

    1. Take a deep breath! Understand that a majority of the world is also in your shoes. Keep your head up high and use this time to think of creative and innovative ideas.
    2. Use the luxury of this downtime to plan for the future. Particularly as it relates to brand partnerships that will help you better leverage the limited budgets you are likely to confront when economies begin to slowly reopen.
    3. Assess your physical and other built-in assets, which, while sidelined now, will eventually be back in place. Think of ways you can utilize your assets in the future (product placement, image, etc.) to better attract strategic relationships with those brands that are thriving now.

For over 20 years, Regatta has been building marketing partnerships for top brands. During these challenging times, we’re here to help brands navigate and make the most of their partnerships and alliances.