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Marketing With No Budget - The Other Three Ps

You could be forgiven for being a dumbfounded marketer right about now. What’s the right thing to do – for your brand and customers?

Staying silent isn’t the answer – industry and academic experts are in near total agreement that going dark during a recession of any kind is not a productive way to protect the business or its profit margins.

The best thing to do is stay loud. Maintain your consumer’s ‘share of mind’, maintain your brand’s perception as a strong and dependable force, and position your brand for growth during and after this COVID-19 mess is over.

Marketing has gone by many names in its time. The simplest definition is: ‘putting the right product in the right place at the right time’. Marketing has two prongs of purpose: to be the growth function of a company, and to optimise every interaction between brand and consumer.

However, that this simply isn’t feasible for some marketers. You might have had your media budgets stripped away, your business may be struggling so much that advertising would be seen as an exorbitant and unreasonable expense. Fear not, the world’s pool of inspiring marketers and business leaders has given the rest of us the kindly reminder that marketing is more than the one P we often find ourselves leaning on (Promotion).

Remember the other three Ps? Product, Place (distribution), and Price.

As Mark Ritson has lamented on many occasions, most marketers of this generation have been restricted to pulling only the Promotion lever, neglecting the delicate balance of a proper marketer’s full remit.

Let’s look at some examples of big brands pulling other levers, engaging their full faculties as marketing superheroes and kicking ass in a downturn.

Product: UberEats

UberEats was one of the first businesses to make adaptation when COVID-19 came around. The changes it made were subtle, done so with little fanfare, and delivered enormous value to the market and its consumer base. Before lockdown laws were widespread in Australia, eateries, cafes and restaurants were already feeling the pressure of slowed demand. And UberEats’ home food delivery option was seeing rapid growth as more people were deciding to eat out from home. This offered some relief for restaurants, but cash flow was still a major issue – they were only receiving their UberEats payouts once per week, and struggling to make ends meet in between. To ease this, UberEats simply made the switch to paying restaurants their share on a daily basis. Or perhaps not so simply – UberEats staff behind the scenes were no doubt in manic restructuring mode – but the genuine community benefit it delivered was more than worth it. In addition, UberEats also dropped its usual fees and barriers to entry. This allowed swathes of otherwise ineligible independent restaurants to sign up and use UberEats as a revenue stream. Almost certainly, hundreds of thousands of restaurants around the world have been saved from shutting down or running into cash flow disasters. And they’ll remember that they have UberEats to thank.

Place (Distribution): REA

Among the markets hit worst by COVID-19, real estate is surely among them. REA Group predictively assessed the impact the virus was going to have on its business, and got to work with preventative measures. REA knew its distribution method stood to be severely disrupted, and that technology would have to fill in the gap for typically in-person inspections and auctions. Home inspections and auctions have now been prohibited by Federal and State governments. But REA had already been busy coordinating virtual tours, 360° home navigation, guided videos and online auctions. REA had to reinvent its entire delivery method. Bear in mind, REA’s share price has crashed since mid-February. According to the real estate group, it has seen an overall decline in general search activity; although activity in the ‘Buy’ category is up 8% from 2019. Overall, REA’s priority was to ensure it had access to its customer base, and has maintained an open revenue stream. Other real estate media hosts have not been so quick to catch up, and are still suffering. REA, though, has been recovering since March 20.

Price: Jetts Fitness

Jetts, as a chain gym brand, was also within one of the industries hit worst by COVID-19. As of 22 March, gyms were no longer deemed safe by the Australian government, and forced to close.

Jetts presented an interesting approach in repricing its services and shifting its offering. The gym brand reduced its membership fee to $3.50 per week for all tiered memberships – normally ranging from $15 to $35. The $3.50 per week payment is just enough for franchise owners to keep their ‘heads above water’, according to the company; and in exchange members are given access to an online library of home workout and nutrition resources.

Jetts has also promised customers to discount the same amount – $3.50 per week – from membership fees when its gyms reopen, for the same period of time they will have been forced to shut. This effectively means Jetts will repay the total amount members are paying now to keep the brand afloat.

Nevertheless, the company has also given members the option of placing their subscription on unlimited suspension while gyms are closed at no cost.


Hopefully you’ve taken some inspiration from how these brands are handling marketing’s full remit. Perhaps your product could be tweaked in a small way, to deliver a huge community and brand benefit, like UberEats. Maybe your entire delivery mechanism has been disrupted, and to stand out your brand must develop a new way to access customers. Or you could have a stroke of genius on how a new pricing strategy could communicate your authenticity and sincerity to customers.

Your role as a marketer is more broad and dextrous than you may have considered. We have been lulled as a community into confusing marketing with communications. While a powerful tool, that we’ve become very familiar with manipulating, communications are one weapon in the war room. Maintain your customer relationships in every aspect that you can.

Above all it is our duty as marketers to look after our brands and communities. Keeping our companies and business ecosystem strong means the country as a whole will be able to recover faster.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay loud.

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