Ramp the advertising programs and support them with content tied to sales efforts.
In my last column, I discussed the communications strategies that were most important as Covid-19 began to change our working lives. This month, I look at communications strategies that will be most important as we resume the new normal working world.
As I write this (Apr. 16), the strategy for reopening businesses is just being formulated. From everything I’ve seen reported, it appears the strategy will be a rolling relaxation of restrictions, which means geographic advantages for companies in places that either had minimal infection rates or have successfully flattened their curves. Rolling increases of restrictions are also likely if a region starts to see new spikes in infections.
From an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider perspective, what does that mean? First, consider what Covid-19 has done to this business sector. Many EMS providers remained operational at some level thanks to product mixes that included essential products that support infrastructure or medical needs. However, even those companies typically are working at reduced levels and have experienced employee angst about virus risk. Customers with nonessential product are in some cases cutting forecasts dramatically and in other cases will have a lot of pent-up demand. Those trends depend on whether the product is something buyers have simply been waiting out the quarantine to purchase or will likely not purchase for months after the quarantine ends. When you overlay today’s trends on a post-Covid-19 world, it translates to manufacturing constraints, supply-chain constraints, plus pockets of oversupply. If a large part of the US gets back to work by May 1, it is likely that pent-up demand will continue to be a factor. If the quarantines in place in mid-April extend through May in a large part of the country, it is hard to predict what the demand landscape will look like. Datacom, industrial and medical products will likely remain strong, but consumer demand will drop dramatically.
The international picture is also a factor. While most of Asia and parts of the EU are either back to work or planning to get back to work shortly, Mexico is just starting to feel the impact of the virus, and the inefficiency of Mexico’s state governments in determining essential businesses is going to impact EMS facilities. Companies with good Mexican legal counsel and strong relationships with their local maquiladora associations are likely to do better than those without those relationships. The global supply chain remains imbalanced, which means logistically that transport chains are also imbalanced. Even if a manufacturer can produce, it may not be able to get that product from point A to B as quickly as its customer needs. OEMs also cannot get their products from point A to B as quickly as their customers may need.
From a marketing perspective, it becomes important to get into the mind of prospects and customers. The scenario I’ve just laid out has created frustration and destroyed every 2020 forecast and budget in existence. It also shows the weak spot of supply-chain consolidation. Sourcing strategies that have geographic variety are now more relevant. So, while little will change immediately, sourcing teams are likely compiling lessons learned right now and formulating new sourcing strategies. As a result, EMS marketing activities should align with the lessons-learned mentality that sourcing teams are likely to embrace. Here are my thoughts on marketing strategies most likely to work:
Covid-19 has caused massive disruption around the world. However, chaos always opens the door to opportunity for those who look for it. Start planning and executing post-Covid-19 marketing strategies. This will be an educated sell that requires content that addresses how an EMS provider is going to solve common challenges. Consequently, marketing programs that work will have detailed content backing up whatever advertising is done and strong linkage to sales efforts.