May 13, 2020 | Susan Groeneveld

Why COVID-19 is helping companies embrace outcome marketing

As week nine of the lockdown mandate in North America begins to lift, and unemployment rates near those of the Great Depression; it has become clear that companies are being forced to take a hard look at all facets of their business. Week nine has seen most companies creating a flexible balance sheet to face immediate challenges. But importantly, savvy companies are looking at marketing as part of their business model to move past the immediate challenge of COVID-19.  Those that are using a marketing approach based on ROI and driven by outcomes are well-positioned to rebound with a resilient model in place.

A Business Approach to Marketing

Since COVID-19 started, we have been talking with our clients and their customers preparing to first weather the pandemic, and to secondly flourish in a shifting economy. The businesses we at WS are proud to partner with include multinational, national, regional, and local businesses, but their focus is singular: how to quickly move to deal with the new realities of contracting markets and a global recession. In our main industries of food and healthcare, GDP has obviously been significantly affected, but our clients are reaping the benefits of real-time marketing intelligence, meeting the needs of their customers more directly than ever. 

Below are some of the marketing insights that we see as vital to success through 2020 and beyond:

Understand the Path to Purchase

Traditional marketing focuses on positioning a product, pricing appropriately and bringing it to market. In a digital-first world, truly, authentically understanding what problem the product or service fulfills for a customer is critical. 

What are the challenges your customers face? What are their regular routines of information consumption? What motivates them when they think about your product or service category? Often when we illuminate the customer journey our clients are surprised by the assumptions made that have been incorrect or discounted. If what you do is truly valuable to your customers, you are rarely the only solution. Along with increased sales, this true customer understanding also increases the accuracy of weaving emotional and rational connection together.

The result? A well-crafted, data-informed customer journey and persona is your guide to creating marketing that never makes your customer feel pandered to, patronized, or misunderstood. Your product or service rises above the marketing noise as your customer feels seen, heard, and understood.

Digital First – Measurement Always

2020 has tested even the most bombproof of marketing plans. Those that have strategically utilized digital technologies in some capacity have a clearer path forward. In fact, I believe, digital engagement is the first wave of profound marketing shift, especially in B2B, post-pandemic. 

Digital communications allow personal, one on one, 2-way dialogues with your customer. But it also gives you a window into the behaviours of your audience. The growth marketing principles we utilize at WS  ( allow us to measure, optimize and pivot communications as needed. This ensures we’re delivering the appropriate message at the appropriate time. It also lets your customer determine what makes you the product or service of their choice. And, as we know, all digital communication platforms (social, lead gen, media, website, etc.) include metrics. Laddering that information to an overall goal is the ultimate decision driver.

Think Outcomes, Not Tactics

Have you noticed the sharp increase in low-quality ads from questionable “companies” on social media? As large brands pulled back their marketing budgets in response to the pandemic, ads became cheaper, and some marketers are taking advantage, pushing out more ads more quickly. And while this might result in a temporary increase in page views or click-throughs, those companies are unlikely to benefit long-term from a tactical pivot based solely on reaching more people more cheaply. 

It is no longer enough to just focus on how to reach your customer. Often marketers get caught up in thinking how they can market their product or service effectively. How does a particular tactic drive more sales? A much more relevant question in a customer-centric approach is why. 

Why does your customer choose your product or service to solve their problem? Why choose Tactic A over Tactic B? Which one helps you reach your marketing goal? Why will they return to buy again? When tactical executions ladder up to an overall outcome, the result is customer loyalty and increasing marketing ROI well beyond a finite, tactic based approach.

Raise Your Marketing Bar – Realize the Real Value of Marketing

As we settle into our new normal, it’s time for companies to truly align their marketing ROI with business outcomes. It’s easier than ever to prove the value of your entire multichannel approach aggregating the data we have at our fingertips. 

The first step to helping your customers’ success is finding a marketing partner that understands how to gather all of your marketing together to align marketing outcomes with your business goals. When you start paying for outcomes rather than tactics; your customers will thank you in ways that are truly rewarding.

Susan Groeneveld

Susan Groeneveld is a co-founder of WS, Cat Healthy and Sylvester AI. Recognized for many award-winning and marketing initiatives in food and healthcare; Susan has over 25 years of business building experience. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.