Very few searches can go one-on-one with the word “Google” but the Coronavirus is one that can. We predict that this will be short lived but today Coronavirus is getting more search traffic than the term Google.
There is no doubt that the CoronaVirus will create winners and losers at a grand scale. A few of the losers are easy to see even in the fog of marketing as Cruise Lines, Airlines, and Events are getting hammered. On the other hand, Georgia-Pacific, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark are obvious winners. These three companies dominate toilet paper manufacturing and they are having a grand old time (for now). However, there will be a price to pay for this later. If you are a Sales Manager at Kimberly Clark you’re having a great few days. However, the Sales Executive at Carnival Corp is not having the same experience. This is a perfect example of market forces overpowering your marketing plan.
CoronaVirus is an example of a search term going viral. Here is what this word looks like in Google Trends. In just a few weeks it went from unknown to exceeding the search volume for Google.
If you compare this to the stock performance of Kimberly Clark you will see the same basic pattern with a dip on the first day of the panic. At first, the pain was shared across the market but very quickly investors figured out that there would be winners and this caused the price to snap back in one day. In all widespread events, there are always winners and losers and you just need to figure that out quickly and act smart.
No market plan survives first contact, especially when a natural event like the Coronavirus is in play. The Coronavirus is impacting events that gather large groups of people together. This includes marketing events like SXSW, that are important to many marketing plans. If your business attends SXSW to create new connections and leads then you need to move that budget and find other ways to create those sales leads. Just because the event was cancelled, does not mean that you don’t need to create those leads. This is where you must revisit budget allocations and consider putting those dollars to work somewhere else.
The CDC has confirmed there is no Coronavirus transmission risk with PPC. This statement is a joke but it’s also true. We are seeing people becoming more distributed with social distancing and work-at-home strategies. This means more time online making PPC a likely winner in marketing strategies. You’re going to need those leads with or without the events and events are one of the early losers right now. When the chaos flushes out and the common sense returns, the market will rebalance but for right now – it’s a problem, and PPC might be your friend.
Disasters are a time to keep your cool and think carefully. Flush all the hype and emotions and get to the real business issues before making decisions. Disasters often open opportunities that are time sensitive. For those create an action plan with a clear entry and exit and you can win. Playing the disaster game has some risk but there can be an upside for being and staying smart. DO NOT get caught up in the hype and never waste a perfectly good disaster.
When you disrupt a market, there is a price to pay as it readjusts. In the near future, the excess purchases of toilet paper today will cause a sales dip in the future. It won’t make it to the news but it will happen. In 2000 after the panic of Y2K computer equipment and software dropped to near depression levels from the media induced panic. In 1999, reporters were running around screaming the sky is falling and to some degree they made that come true. This is a rerun of a show we have seen before. Think carefully, respond thoughtfully, and pick your timing.