Guest Blog: Ann Gurnell, Marketing Director at Ideas Group
Just think back to the weekend of March 21.
This may have been your household to do list:
A typical mixture of family activities and planning – trips to the supermarket, booking a celebratory meal out and looking into options to change the car…. Just every day stuff.
Roll forward just one week: March 28
How different the world had become. Nothing we thought was normal was possible and we had no idea of when or how we’d be able to do any of those things again in quite the same way.
We all know how that has affected businesses of all shapes and sizes across so many sectors and not just those tourism and hospitality, culture and the arts. Small organisations and huge corporations, public bodies, schools and transport and the thousands of SMEs and independent businesses that underpin our economy – especially here in York.
As we slowly unlock what does it mean for us? As consumers and also as businesses.
At home and at work, we are living with different, constantly changing contexts and I wonder what brands and companies might feature on our lists now – and importantly, why?
We might again be thinking about changing the car or selling the house
We may be planning a holiday
We’re going into the city or our local community shops, cafes and pubs
Booking a hair appointment!
But who with?
Those businesses who have kept in touch with us.
They may or may not be the same ones as we went to before but undoubtedly it will be the ones with whom we feel confident, connected and who understand what we need.
This is true for both B2C and B2B.
People are looking for brands and businesses they can trust, especially if you haven’t been able to visit, shop, or meet face to face for a while? Through keeping in touch, through keeping your brand alive, through… well, marketing. The activities that reach out to your customers and stakeholders, engage and enable them to choose your products or services rather than someone else’s.
So NOW is the time to be looking at your marketing – strategically and tactically.
Being proactive and reaching out to customers old and new.
Thinking about who needs you and your business – Now.
Listening to what they need – Now.
Prioritising precious budgets
Mixing strategic thinking with creative ideas to enable you to be relevant and visible.
Getting yourself ahead of your competitors and creating those loyal relationships, advocates and stakeholders for your future business.
There are some wonderful examples – large and small:
Love them or not, Amazon didn’t stop marketing in the 2008 recession and came through it as the powerful dominant force that we see today. They may be huge but the same principles apply for even a sole practitioner.
Closer to home, Grays Court, Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, City Cruises and York’s Chocolate Story in York have all kept in touch with their markets and adapted their businesses to maximise awareness that they are still here, now open and operating safely – and bringing in vital cash flow.
Hudson Quarter has reached out to new markets and reinforced relationships with existing ones as the development builds to completion next year.
Stryker is balancing tactical sales support with 2021 planning.
They are all looking for ways to lead and transform their business. Working on their marketing strategies and plans for the future as well as the now: Looking for the opportunities, developing new ideas to help them stand out, preparing the business and building the relationships that will underpin their long term sustainability.
Listening and talking to their customers – old and new
Updating their websites and marketing collateral
Developing new products and campaigns
Working with partners to combine precious budgets
Inspired by thinking differently and great ideas.
This advice is being echoed through marketing leaders:
“… marketers cannot afford to fall into the same cautious mindset as consumers at the moment — in doing so, they will forego invaluable opportunities.” Sanchit Jain, media and technology analyst, The Drum 14/08/20
Scott McKenzie, global intelligence leader at Nielsen, recommends using your brands to guide and support customers through the challenges:
“There’s a risk that brands will want to adopt a “wait and see” attitude before committing to supporting products in a big way… consumers are looking for guidance (via the messaging in advertising, promotion etc) that helps them make smart choices when they feel increasingly pressured financially. Additionally, those who innovate in tough times inevitably come out much further in front when things get better.”
So, here are some good questions to ask yourself:
Be endlessly curious about your customers:
Who were they, who are they at this moment and who could they be in a year’s time?
What do they need/want from you and your company?
Do you need to find different customers or to offer something different? Or both?
How strong is your brand? (Not the logo)
What does your brand stand for and what makes you special and will inspire them to choose you rather than a competitor?
Are you planning your marketing?
What’s your business strategy and plan?
Now: Do you need short term cash flow from certain markets and for products and services you can deliver now
The future: Who will be priority markets for the rest of 2020 and and for 2021?
Do you need fresh ideas and inspiration to think differently?
Plus some simple thoughts about things we can all do:
Be strategic: If you need to do less, do it better by prioritising spend where it can make the most difference strategically or financially, or both
Have brand clarity: For all marketing to be effective – especially with digital – you need clear vision, values and brand messages to ensure you reach the best audiences to get engagement and spend
Be distinct and brave: disruptive and inspiring ideas often come from looking for opportunities and new approaches – AirBNB came out of the last recession and Disney out of the great depression of the 1920s – so ideation can spark incredible future success
Be agile: don’t become bogged down in process and bureaucracy. Empower and enable your teams, products and brands to act to keep relationships alive – Now.
Investing time and/or precious budgets wisely in your marketing will undoubtedly reap return for you and your teams – now and beyond.
We’re of course here to help – inspiring and transforming businesses and brands; helping you keep your products and services relevant and in touch with your customers – B2B and B2C and supporting you to develop those cut through ideas to survive and thrive whatever the circumstances.
We’re always here to listen and support:
Just call or email