CEO Insider

Essentialism – A Powerful Marketing Tool as Businesses Reemerge from COVID-19

Successful Happy Businessman

After entering Phase 4 in New York City, businesses are optimistically seeking a new economic and social equilibrium. Broadly speaking, many companies are transitioning from a partial in-office operating model, while others that have been away from the office are reopening their physical doors as they reemerge from the COVID-19 lockdown. A great majority will be challenged to reengage with their existing customers and successfully reach new prospects while simultaneously maintaining a safe work environment for their employees and customers.

Federal stimulus loans will also be depleted by year end with no replacement in sight, and the upcoming Presidential Election presents uncertainty in these challenging times. Companies will budget for survival as they contemplate navigating these unchartered waters, which requires newfound resilience, flexibility, and brand commitment.

COVID-19, as well as the unprecedented needs for social justice reform, has prompted us to reassess our overall business strategy and create greater efficiencies. One of the primary takeaways that is apparent is the necessity for essentialism and the delivery of a clear ROI.

There are several factors to consider when adopting an essentialist business model. 

First, it is critical to clearly understand the mechanism of “success” for one‘s customer base. Fringe initiatives and ancillary services have become less relevant and require paring down for more efficient business. Additionally, market demands have shifted with a digital focus that is platformed. One cannot simply adhere to principles that may hinder business growth. Enterprises that will thrive in this climate are quickly adopting the importance of representing their core value propositions.

Proactively initiating change will create brand connectivity for both customers and employees, building mutual confidence and commitment. Auditing and updating brand collateral and corporate marketing materials to reflect the current business climate will also benefit an agency’s ecosystem. Companies will be perceived as more strategic and informed while customers will appreciate the pragmatism. Conversely, materials that tout an all-purpose, do-everything approach lack focus and do not have the specificity that customers seek as they scrutinize their time and budgets more than ever before.

Certain businesses may choose to adapt to a reduced customer base while others will view this period as a unique window in which to expand their market share. While many industries are responding to instability by shrinking their workforce, others have chosen to modify their pricing, contracts, and payment terms. These strategies can shift a competitive landscape and convert into increased market share. Ultimately, companies will have to continue evaluating the unique needs of their business model and make sound decisions that will mitigate risk and losses.

The typical menu of earned, owned, influencer, and activation services should and will be rethought. Marketing dollars will be carefully measured for direct linkage to business development. This will involve tracking budgets and their specific link to customer acquisition. It is effectively, an unbundling of blended expenses to clearly delineate results. The world of influencer programs may be impacted dramatically.

Technology is also an important component of essentialism in today’s marketplace. Each business has a unique approach to improve efficiency. Our agency reequipped desktop computers with cameras and moved our network into cloud storage. Using virtual communications tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, have not only helped us adapt to social distancing requirements, but preserved office collaboration and synergy. Many of our internal and external meetings are conducted over video calls, which has kept those lines of communication intact. The net effect is more conscious decision-making when interacting with team members.

The state of the post-COVID-19 economy is unpredictable. However, brands can demonstrate renewed efficiency and clear communication, which will enhance trust in their existing customers and appeal to new prospects.


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Richard Rubenstein
Richard Rubenstein, President, Rubenstein Public Relations. A leading brand builder and communications strategist, Richard, a third generation publicist, advises some of the most recognized figures in business, real estate and entertainment. Throughout his 25-year career in public relations, Richard has devised media campaigns that have yielded substantial, high-profile exposure, helping both new businesses and existing brands achieve unprecedented market success. Richard Rubenstein is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.