With industry events like BIBA, Baden-Baden and Monte Carlo being shelved for 2020, and key sectors like aviation and leisure decimated, marketing plans for many insurers and brokers have been thrown into disarray by coronavirus.
Instinctively this might seem like the time to hold back new marketing initiatives and adopt a wait and see approach. That certainly looks to be the prevailing thought if a survey of 900 UK marketers by Marketing Week is anything to go by.
Indeed CFOs might be expecting previously allocated, but now unspent, budgets to be returned to their coffers to prop up their quarterly numbers.
But the evidence suggests the response should be the exact opposite. Counterintuitively now is a good time to invest in building a brand.
In putting the case to said CFOs, there are some points marketers may want to bring up.
In a wide ranging webcast of marketing during coronavirus, Mark Ritsen, Marketing Week columnist and founder of Mini MBA got down to brass tacks at around the 33 minute mark.
A comparison between the performance of stocks in the Morgan Stanley World Index and Standard & Poors 500 against Kantar's (previously Millwood Brown) BrandZ portfolios revealed two things:
If it is indeed the case that the majority of marketer's are planning on cutting back their marketing activity (as per the earlier link), that gives an advantage to those who invest now.
And the advantage is twofold:
Think of Hiscox - okay, they're having a tough time at the moment. But the reason we bring them up is that before Hiscox became a brand that is admired and envied in the industry, its ability to attract and retain talent would have been no better than any other well regarded Lloyd's Syndicate.
But can you imagine the talent pool they've had to choose from over the last 10 years or so. People want to work for businesses other people have heard of. They want some of the magic of the brand to rub off on them.
Studies show that businesses with a higher profile are perceived to be more trustworthy. And that means they're chosen more readily by customers and clients too. There's a reassurance people get from buying a trusted brand, one that's worth paying a little more for.
So, not only does a strong brand increase its bottom line by reducing the cost of acquiring talent and business, it makes people less price sensitive and grows top line numbers too.
Insurers and underwriters take risks all the time based on experience and data. Marketers do too. They're looking at the evidence and seeing this crisis as an opportunity.
And honestly, what's the alternative? Wait until the market comes back and then compete with everyone else for awareness? In business as in life, keeping a low profile, or following the herd limits what can be achieved.
Every insurance business knows that reward and risk are inseparable. We believe that investing in brand building now, notwithstanding all the other business pressures, will pay businesses back handsomely in the years to come.
Stand out. Grow strong.
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