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Nicky Jepson

Marketing Director

Unprecedented.

By its very definition, this hasn’t happened in our lifetimes before, therefore there is no real blueprint, model or framework.

As marketers we all find ourselves, naturally, in the position of feeling the pressure to revive and drive our businesses, to save jobs, to survive. The urge is to do what we do best, to respond to market shifts, to be creative, to have ideas and to push on.

 

But we face an uncertainty we’ve never seen before. No workforce, industry, sector or demographic will be left untouched so we have been forced to reset our thinking. This brings for marketers an almost unfathomable conflict of great opportunity and an inherent responsibility to sustain our sectors and the economy, against the backdrop of a merciless pandemic and the very real prospect of significant and enduring financial hardship. Our rules of engagement have changed. Do we push on? Is it appropriate? What are our brand responsibilities? And our economic responsibilities? We’ve pulled together a few thoughts on some of the things that might help frame your thoughts over the coming weeks and months…

 

Be Responsible

This is not a drill. At time of writing we are cruising an inevitable trajectory so our first priority is to our health, and that of our families, friends, colleagues, customers and suppliers. All activities need to align with this from how you communicate, to how you supply, deliver and operate as a business. Health before Profit. Your staff and your brand will thank you for it.

 

Communicate

Firstly, be clear about your position with your stakeholders and how you as a business are responding to the crisis. It’s OK to not have all the answers, it’s not OK to pretend it’s not happening. Our supermarket chiefs are communicating directly with their consumers on an almost daily basis detailing their organisations’ changing response to their daily challenges. In a time of uncertainty, they have taken control and are being both proactive and responsive. Those things stick.

Equally, as inappropriate as it may feel, a degree of comms ‘normality’, if appropriate, may be welcome relief for some customers. You have the right to protect the future of your business and have a responsibility to your staff, suppliers and customers to do so. Going ‘dark’ for a few months may cause your brand damage you may not recover from. Cutting marketing is a natural and common knee jerk but brands who continue to behave and communicate with credibility will be the ones in the stronger position ultimately. It will be a ‘wacky races’ style race out the blocks on the other side of this economy pause, lay your foundations now. But Beware. Profiteering is definitely not cool. And you’ll be called out quickly for it.

 

Be Useful

Read your customer base. Their needs of your brand have undoubtedly shifted. Be sensitive to this. Respond appropriately. We’ve seen some incredible examples of distilleries shifting to producing hand sanitiser, hoover companies making ventilators, ice cream vans delivering essentials to the elderly and vulnerable, luxury hand cream brands donating product to NHS staff. These are extreme examples but at the very least you should use this time to be useful and add value to your customer base. Switch your focus to donating your knowledge through educational content, tutorial podcasts and problem solving webinars. As a consequence, compelling editorial content, if produced well, will increase brand awareness, build thought leadership and significantly bolster your digital presence. Think of it as a brand investment. 

 

Respond to your New Reality

Agility and flexibility will win out over the next few months. Significant change is inevitable and now is the time to respond. Our newly and nationally enforced WFH culture is a huge reset button that will force new behaviours, routines and consumption of information, products and services across the board. Some will be temporary and some will stick, but all will undoubtedly present opportunities and challenges for the marketing department. 

Search traffic is currently through the roof so if there was ever a time to get your SEO strategy aligned and see the results, it is now. Additionally, your competitors may be pulling back expenditure in both SEO and PPC during the uncertainty, costs per clicks are decreasing, a great opportunity for breakthrough. Think about the integration of your data insights, ad messaging, landing pages and user experience. Switching up your digital presence now will pay dividends way beyond this crisis.

If you’ve been forced to change your route to market, or spotted an opportunity to shift a marketing gear, (Case in point: Jo Wicks and his national daily PE lesson), social media presents instant and highly targeted ways of engaging your audience with the update. Bear in mind these adjustments still need a plan however. Reacting is good, responsive is better. Make sure it has purpose. And don’t drift too far from your brand stronghold.

 

Recalculate

The old rules may now no longer apply and actually this is the perfect opportunity to think differently, change up your game plan and set a new route for your marketing. For marketers, isolation and ‘lock down’ will mean time away from the frontline of marketing, where ideas will start flowing, new ways will be forged, new ideas will be brewing and the status quo will inevitably be challenged. These will ironically become exciting times for marketers.

Use this time to explore how you could connect more effectively with your customers. Do you truly understand who they are and what they need from you? Is your brand’s proposition still relevant, does it need a refresh or a rethink? Does your creative still hit the mark? How healthy are your communications channels, do they deliver and are they still the right ones? And your digital platforms? How hard are they working? While the entire world is on enforced pause, you’ve finally got your strategic and creative thinking time.

 

Above all, Be Observant

This is a significant global event. Change is now inevitable.

Watch your customers behaviours closely, try to understand which ones will leave a lasting legacy. As marketers we are naturally inquisitive people, this is what we do. We look for new patterns and new opportunities in our daily role. Businesses and consumers will now inevitably want to protect themselves going forward, therefore services will change, distribution will shift, supply chain and infrastructure will adapt, as will consumption and attitudes. These are all opportunities for marketers to respond to when the time is right.

 

And in the end….

We will at some point return to some sense of normality, albeit a ‘new normal.’ Invest your time now, observe the changes, be mindful of your customers shifting needs and respond accordingly. As marketers, its what we do.

 

We can help

We may be working from home but we’re still here to help if we can. Whether you just need a sounding board or some straight talking advice on the route forward for your marketing, we’d like to help. Theres no obligation, no fee, just a chat and some genuine actionable advice. Drop us a line at hello@workhousemarketing.com and we’ll line up the right specialist to talk it through.
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