Marketing in uncertain times - Review your marketing 3Ms

Updated 29th November 2020

What will the coming months bring for your business? Review your marketing 3Ms to develop your future approach.

The UK economy is predicted to shrink by 11.3% in 2020. By 2025 the economy will still be 3% smaller than anticipated in March 2020 (Source: BBC). What will 2021 be like for your business?

In its simplest form, the 3M principles of marketing (Market, Message, Media) remain constant even in difficult times. Carefully consider what is the right target Market, develop the right Message for your target market and select the right Media to reach them.

3Ms of marketing

Will your target market in 2021 be the same as before COVID-19? Has it changed marginally for the better or worse, or completely gone? Where will your sales come from, will customers who left you in 2020 return in 2021, and what is the ‘new normal’ for 2021 from a business perspective? Once you define the market the right message and media can be developed and chosen respectively.

Use available data to guide decision making on the Target Market:

Digital marketing planning and analysis tools help us monitor what is currently happening and to use this information, along with other projection data and forecasts, to guide decision making. Whilst we may still need to continue to make assumptions monitoring real-world data guides our decision making and the timing of those decisions.

For example, if we look at people searching in the UK on Google for a ‘VOIP Company’ (A company that supplies voice over internet protocol solutions to allow businesses to provide a secure telephone service for their office, remote and home-based workers) we can see search volumes have grown from 40 searches in February to 140 searches in May and 80 searches in August:

Monthly 'VOIP Company' Searches On Google Search Network

VOIP Company Monthly Searches Google

This is just for one search term but if we examined related search terms we are likely to see similar growth.  This is a low search volume example but illustratesthe main point that this readily available search data can help us understand what is happening and we can use this to guide our decisions.

Using wider researched and forecast data too to help us make the right decisions:

If you research you will find resources from other companies that provide data on what is happening in the market and the opinions and feedback from purchasers.

There is market, employment, purchasing and confidence indicators and forecasts against those indicators that can also help with our reflection of what may happen in the UK over the coming 18 months and what this may mean for our businesses.

For example, Trading Economics concisely shows the UK outlook for the next four quarters and for 2021. The data below is an extract:  

As of the 12th July 2020:

Economic Forecast 2020 2021

As of the 16th October 2020:

Economic Forecast 16th October 2020

As of the 29th November 2020

Economic Forecast Nov 2020

The changes in the data between the 12th July 2020 and that of the 29th November 2020 illustrates the uncertain times we are currently in. Predicted UK GDP growth for 2021 has fluctuated from a forecast of 3.2% in July, to 0.7% In October ,and then back to 3.2% in November.

The GDP, unemployment and confidence indicators are widely understood. The Purchasing Manufacturing Indexes (PMI) show the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors. A PMI reading over 50 indicates growth or expansion of the sector as compared to the previous month, while a reading under 50 suggests contraction. A reading at 50 indicates that the number reporting better business is equal to those stating business is worse. The Retail Sales MoM provides an aggregated measure of sales of retail goods and services over a specific time period.

All data can be view at

Looking closely at the data helps us develop a view of when the overall market will return to pre-coronavirus levels. For example, if we look at Consumer Confidence the projection is that is will take until spring 2021 before it returns to pre-coronavirus levels.

 Consumer Confidence


But what is happening in your specific industry?

Again, there is a wider range of considered views available. As an example, Beauhurst have researched 28,499 UK growth companies related to the business impact of COVID-19 on certain industries. They found:

  • Those businesses with a positive or low impact:

The businesses operating in the Tech sector are the most likely to experience a positive or low impact:

Impact of virus on industries 

  • VoIP, EdTech and eHealth have fared particularly well, with very few companies at risk. Also, London is home to the highest proportion of potentially positively impacted companies (17%), with the surrounding regions of the South East and East of England also doing well.
  • Those industries with a high or moderate impact:

A drop in footfall endangers less technology-driven sectors. Most notably, the leisure and entertainment industry is massively under threat, with 20% of companies severely impacted and 34% critically impacted. Other traditional sectors, including retail and industrials, are far more likely to be moderately impacted.

A copy of their impact report is available from here.

Obtain a range of views to determine if they are similar to guide informed decision making:

Many alternative views on specific forcasted indicators are available. For example, regarding opinions of purchasers, research by Strategy Analytics of 1,464 adults in late March illustrates that 79% think it is going to take some time to get back to normal. Until people have confidence they may be reluctant to spend.

Getting back to normal

Strategy Analytics full report can be found here

Research and use actual and forecast data relevant to your business to define the first 'M' (Market) for your company:

Above we looked at just a few data sources, indicators and market forecasts. By using researched available market data and consistently monitoring additional input and changes that occurs as time passes, will help you create a more informed view of the profile of your adjusted target market, its likely purchasing behaviour and the timing on when business decisions should be made.  

From Market to Message and Media:

Once you have defined your target Market consider how your business approach and processes may need to be adjusted to meet their new business needs and from these needs, along with your approach, document your Message, your revised value proposition.

With social distancing, the Media you use to reach your target audience may need to change too especially if your marketing previously heavily used face-to-face marketing methods (e.g. exhibitions, networking, events, etc.).  

A helpful way to consider the right media is to reflect on your refined or new 'Target Market' journey considering the distancing requirements that are likely to apply for some time.  How will your business be discovered, explored, evaluated before a purchase is made and do you need to change what were previously face-to-face components of the process to digital alternatives?

Journey - From company to customer

When reflecting on possible strategies you will find our 15 digital strategies eGuide our value:

 15 Digital Marketing Strategies To Grow Sales

Interested in discussing your specific business in more detail? Please contact us.

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