Marketers infatuation with hyperbole has dissipated during the crisis.
Instead, too much of marketing’s ‘new normal’ focuses on undifferentiated advertising, underpinned by interchangeable messaging and positioning.
However, smart brands have moved past platitudes about “uncertain times”, “a challenging situation” and the fact “they’ve been here for 100 years, and will support you now, and in the future”.
Telstra, Bunnings, Coles, Woolworths and Suncorp have deservedly been lauded for their marketing.
And their modus operandi has two distinct components they’re nailing.
Firstly, they’ve assessed and evolved the basic tenants of marketing – the four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion – to adapt to the current circumstances.
people, purpose and profit.
For simplicity, I’m cutting the trinity up like this:
However, the marketing landscape has changed at this point in time, and the fact remains a lot of brands are struggling to ensure their marketing is on point.
There’s also a popular viewpoint that it’s far easier for the brands mentioned above to market given they’re offering ‘essential services’.
And that’s notwithstanding the fact there are a plethora of essential services that aren’t marketing well.
With that in mind, I want to showcase a big and small brand which are not an “essential service” but are still nailing the trinity.
* Note: the author has not been paid in burgers, bikes or beer to feature these companies. But he will gladly accept any gratuities that come his way… for research purposes only!
McDonald's Australia marketing highlights:
People: Maccas has been on point, and their advertising has showcased how safe and easy it is for people to buy their products.
They’ve also begun to evolve their brand from solely being known as a fast food provider, to becoming a more modern, nimble and helpful brand that delivers the unexpected – whether this is through design or synchronicity remains to be seen.
Additionally, Maccas has incentivised larger orders and, in all likelihood, created new customers – Uber free delivery.
And they have found an innovative way to expand their customer base – selling essential items. In doing so, they’ve acquired new data and audience pools through their app, social activity and web traffic.
Purpose: They have stayed true to their purpose of “to be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat and drink”, despite the fact they are no longer a dine-in destination. Instead, they’ve expanded ways they can be the “way” to eat and drink.
Profit: Maccas has unequivocally been hurt by in-store restaurant closures, reporting global March sales were down 22.2 per cent. But I’ll bet you a Bic Mac deal they’re weathering the storm better than most fast food businesses.
Importantly, they’ve adapted to the changed conditions and their drive-through, delivery and app revenue has no doubt increased exponentially.
Equally, they have likely started to build relationships with a new customer base by selling essentials, setting up an opportunity for new people to experience their brand and service. Potentially, this may also be a short-term play for Maccas to take share off non-traditional competitors like Coles or IGA for these essential services.
And if you’re going through the drive-through for eggs after lunch, or with kids, I reckon there’s a fair chance you’ll leave with essentials and something from the menu you weren’t planning on buying.
Bolt Bikes marketing highlights:
People: The Jobs Board solves an urgent need for all parties – creating or saving jobs and enabling businesses to distribute their products.
It has positioned the company as champions of the little guy – regardless of whether that’s a rider or local business.
In doing so, it’s been able to connect emotionally with discrete tribes and accelerate brand building by being relevant and addressing customer pain points.
Purpose: “Bolt was founded with the vision of supporting vulnerable gig economy workers in the on-demand delivery sector with a safe, reliable and affordable electric vehicle to provide maximum earning potential.”
It’s delivering this in spades, as well as helping businesses survive – via their riders. This is reaffirmed by the fact they’re not taking a cut of deliveries – building goodwill and embedding their series with both the rider and business. Well played.
Profit: Bolt Bikes has generated short-term demand and created ongoing revenue via their subscription model.
Bolt Bikes’ riders are also able to partner with behemoths like Uber Eats and Deliveroo, creating ongoing work (and subscriptions).
It also cross-sells gear, creating another revenue stream. And let’s not forget the long-term brand building and salience generated.
An honourable mention
I also wanted to provide a hat-tip to the Love of Your Local campaign, which has been jointly run Carlton & United Breweries and the Australian Hotels Association.
This smart campaign lets people pay for one pint now and you receive a second pint free when your local opens. Your pub gets the money now, and you get a free pint – what’s not to love about that?
While COVID-19 has turned marketing strategies on their head, Bolt Bikes and McDonalds provide a blueprint on how to ensure you maintain a relevant and impactful presence, provide utility, build salience and drive sales.
Now more than ever, customers aren’t choosing on the ‘what’. Brands that can demonstrate their purpose are winning ‘hearts and minds’ and delivering tangible business outcomes.