I’ll admit to bias on this one, but I believe the role of CMO is among the toughest in the C-suite—and the last 15 months didn’t exactly grease the wheels for marketing chiefs. Between budget oscillations, heightened customer expectations, the implosion of some channels and the explosion of others, and a constant barrage of breaking news, it’s harder than ever for marketing leaders to make waves.
The game was evolving rapidly yet we were expected to not miss a beat. According to a SurveyMonkey market research study in May 2020, 42% of companies said their marketing budgets had been cut since the pandemic started, with some reporting cuts as high as 70%. Yet, despite these cuts, more than half of marketing teams said the scope of their activities did not decrease.
In this crowded, fast-moving landscape, marketing teams have to make a big impact with little to work with. Under normal circumstances, brands might leverage a market research firm to keep a pulse on their brand and identify new opportunities. However, the SurveyMonkey report found that 54% of respondents estimated use of full-service research vendors to decrease amid the pandemic. Happily, agile market research solutions have emerged as a creative, cost-effective way to gain valuable strategic insights and newsworthy nuggets, without the high price tag and slow setup of a full-service market research firm.
With vaccination rollouts increasing and the end of the pandemic in sight, marketers may soon benefit from larger budgets once again. However, the need for speed will remain a factor in post-pandemic marketing—and we expect that many of the lessons learned during the last 15 months will continue even after our lives return to normal (whatever “normal” will look like).
Here are the ways in which marketers got creative with marketing content fueled by in-house market research, which will have ramifications beyond the pandemic.
Making news newsworthy
With countless company announcements made every day, marketers and communicators need to bolster their stories as best as they can to stand out. An announcement backed by data can transform an announcement from forgettable to newsworthy. This is a trend that was seen in a range of industries during the pandemic, and we should continue seeing after as the media landscape grows ever-crowded.
UpSwell Marketing is a marketing firm that specializes in helping gyms expand their member base. After what was no doubt a challenging 2020 for gyms everywhere, UpSwell used SurveyMonkey in February 2021 to better understand how consumers feel about rejoining gyms. By surveying consumers who exercise at least once a month, UpSwell gained timely insight into what people value in a gym membership and how comfortable they are with going back. For instance, they learned that 80% of consumers were open to going back to a gym, and 47% said sanitation was a deciding factor in gym choice. This nicely reinforced UpSwell’s expertise as a marketing firm with a deep understanding of the business needs of gyms. Imagine this story without data—it would not have been news at all.
Evolve IP® is a cloud solutions company that enables remote work. The company used SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions to conduct a survey of business professionals working from home in February 2021, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of most organizations going remote. With vaccination rollouts increasing and the public beginning to consider in-person work arrangements, Evolve IP’s survey found compelling results that showed the benefits of a flexible working environment. One notable result is that over 60% of respondents say they are less likely to look for a new job now that they have the flexibility to work from home. These results reinforced Evolve IP’s value proposition, even in the near-future when working remotely is not the default. By using an agile market research solution and timing the survey with the anniversary of the pandemic, Evolve IP was able to showcase the value of their solutions and offer newsworthy data on a topic many are already discussing: the return to the office.
Using research to underline a company’s value proposition is a common trend. GetInsured, a health insurance marketplace platform provider, recently conducted a study on what millennials know about health insurance. The results revealed that many millennials lack a thorough understanding of their own insurance, and exemplified a need for better education around health insurance. In fact, GetInsured found that more than half (53%) of uninsured millennials are not aware that they may qualify for tax credits to lower the cost of health insurance premiums. GetInsured, of course, is an ideal provider of such education. This press release did a great job of shedding light on a concerning issue—the public’s understanding of health insurance during a pandemic—while positioning their own offerings as a credible solution.
Telling a compelling story by embracing the noise
Sometimes, a news story is so all-encompassing that it is impossible to be “business as usual.” Think back to the early days of the pandemic. People sought out news to gain important information about this new, unknown virus—and trying to distract from that with a story that had no immediate urgency came across as tone-deaf. Journalists were swamped with pandemic-related coverage; pitching news about your company that had little to do with the current moment in time was futile, if not insensitive.
Sometimes, standing out in a crowded media landscape means strategically aligning with what people are already interested in.
For example, in April 2020, the personal finance software company Quicken Inc. published results from a survey using SurveyMonkey’s Market Research Solutions that showed COVID-19’s impact on personal finances. Unsurprisingly, Quicken found that 62% of respondents reported a negative impact on their finances due to COVID-19. At that point, April was the worst month for jobs since the Great Depression, so Quicken’s results offered a thoughtful, nuanced look at how the public responded to a battered economy. The research successfully highlighted the company’s expertise and leadership within the sphere of personal finance.
PatientPop is another company that recognized a significant media story and saw an opportunity to contribute authentically to the conversation. In January 2021, as vaccination rollouts became more widespread, PatientPop conducted a nationwide survey on evolving attitudes of medical and dental patients during the pandemic.
This survey took a holistic view of patient behaviors and perceptions from the start of the pandemic and throughout, with a comparative look at past consumer responses. The research found that more than 95% of respondents with telehealth appointments planned to attend, making them 14% more likely to show up than patients with in-person appointments. As PatientPop is a provider of telehealth services, this statistic shows the importance and timeliness of the company’s products.
Crafting a narrative with agile market research
It isn’t always possible to stand out in a noisy news cycle, but when done properly, you can keep your company in the conversation in a productive, informative way. Whether you are flexing your expertise or elevating the newsworthiness of a story, market research can help create a compelling narrative that drives positive media coverage.