Don’t Let Coronavirus Steal Your Perspective

November 25, 2020

Using Amara’s Law to Analyze Pandemic’s Effect on Marketing

// By Jeff Stewart //

VITAS Healthcare AVP of digital communications Jeff Stewart urges marketers to stick with fundamental marketing principles and keep focused on consumer needs — especially during a time of unpredictability such as the coronavirus pandemic has caused.

The annual health care marketing conferences this year are focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on health care marketing and communications. The titles evoke themes of change, disruption, and the future.

The pandemic brought a daily reality faster than anyone predicted and foisted swift change and rapid priority realignments for organizations.

There is a mental model from technology called Amara’s Law that health care marketers should use to maintain perspective: The effects of a given technology tend to be overestimated in the short run and underestimated in the long run.

The application of Amara’s Law for marketers today is relevant because much of the disruption around the pandemic centers on technology and digital transformation efforts. Amid COVID-19, some 78 percent of digital marketers in a recent survey by Altimeter were continuing or accelerating their digital transformation.

Reactions to the pandemic swing between naïve optimism and fatalistic pessimism in processing and predicting the course of the virus and its effect on life. The lens of Amara’s Law can provide perspective on limited and minor changes today, and underscore how little can be predicted about the future.

Overestimating the Short Run

An overestimated short run forces a sense of panic and urgency. It creates an immediate need for response and perhaps pushes health care marketing toward sense-making over pandemic response. Here are some examples of how health care marketing navel-gazing is missing the short run.

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