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COVID-19
4 min

How the global pandemic has impacted budgets, planning & priorities

by Tanya Lord July 10, 2020
T

There’s no doubt that 2020 has played out wildly different than anybody could have expected. The global COVID-19 pandemic has now affected the personal and professional lives of millions of people and forced many organizations to continuously adjust how they do business.

We recently surveyed Marketers within professional services, B2B and B2C organizations to better understand how these unprecedented and unpredictable times have influenced their operations and decision making. We focused on gaining insight into 5 main questions:

  1. How have 2020 budgets been impacted by the current crisis?
  2. Given the current context, how far out are they formulating their plans and activities?
  3. Which efforts do they predict will be significantly changed or impacted in the immediate or near-term?
  4. Which efforts do they predict will be significantly changed or impacted in the mid or long-term?
  5. What is their biggest change in professional priority right now?

We launched the survey in late April and collected responses through late June. Fifty-seven business executives completed the survey. Fifty-three percent of respondents were Marketers, and 12 percent were Executive Management. We heard from a variety of industries, with Professional Services (60%), Healthcare (16%) and Marketing/Advertising/PR organizations being the most highly represented.

Here’s what we found.

No surprise … budgets are changing.

  • Most respondents have had to decrease or optimize their budgets (95%).
  • Only 5% of respondents have had no impact to their budget.
  • None of those we surveyed had the luxury of increasing their budget.

Planning is shifting to the near and mid-term.

  • Although we received feedback from clients early on in the pandemic that indicated many were focused on putting out immediate fires, a majority of the professionals we surveyed are now ready to shift that reactive approach to more of a proactive approach. Eighty-six percent of respondents have the next 1-12 months in mind when planning.
  • Only 5 percent of respondents are prepared to start thinking past the next year.

Respondents are adjusting their approach to events, marketing communications and business development in the near term.

  • In the near term, respondents see Events & Sponsorship Strategy, Marketing Communications and Sales/BD Strategy being impacted the most.
  • Respondents don’t seem to anticipate much change or impact to Brand & Positioning, M&A Strategy, Customer Experience and Customer Loyalty

Digital experience/transformation will be a focus in the long-term.

  • Marketing communications appears to taper off in the mid to long-term.
  • Sales/BD Strategy, Events & Sponsorship Strategy and Digital Experience/Transformation are the areas respondents ranked being the most significantly impacted in the mid to long-term.
  • Customer Loyalty and Brand & Positioning are still not considered to have big impacts in the long-term.

A few additional takeaways

  • Many respondents mentioned the tension that comes with being unable to predict the future. They’re forced to play a constant guessing game when trying to determine what the “new normal” will be – and then doing their best to pivot accordingly, as quickly as possible.
  • Although many respondents have had to sacrifice portions of their budgets, or members of their team(s), there is still a strong desire to continue to do great marketing while also working smarter/more efficiently.
  • Respondents told us in an open-ended question that client satisfaction and retention were critically important; however, they aren’t yet prioritizing a shift in their approach to these efforts. For some, change may not be necessary. But for others, who perhaps pre-pandemic were already challenged with keeping clients happy and loyal, rethinking how you approach Client Experience, Brand & Positioning and/or Digital Experience/Transformation efforts could prove fruitful.

 

What’s expected of businesses in this next chapter will continue to shift. Our experts will be keeping a pulse on the best ways to remain ahead of the curve. Follow the COVID-19 tag on the One North blog to learn more about how to:

Tanya Lord

As Head of Marketing Communications, Tanya helps connect One North’s clients and prospects with the most innovative digital strategies, trends and thought leaders.  Responsible for leading all editorial, content marketing and PR initiatives, she ensures the successful delivery of One North’s message by reinforcing the agency’s deep industry knowledge and vertical expertise.

If I were a vegetable: I’d definitely be Zucchini – but only if it were fried.

Superpower I wish I had: I’ve always wanted to be a mind reader. I’m naturally curious … and an eavesdropper!

Key Takeaways
  1. Most respondents have had to decrease or optimize their budgets (95%).
  2. Eighty-six percent of respondents have the next 1-12 months in mind when planning.
  3. Respondents are adjusting their approach to events, marketing communications and business development in the near term.
  4. Digital experience/ transformation will be a focus in the long-term.
  5. Although many respondents have had to sacrifice portions of their budgets, or members of their team(s), there is still a strong desire to continue to do great marketing while also working smarter/more efficiently.
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