As the Coronavirus lockdown begins to ease, albeit at different paces, across the world, marketers are beginning to plan their next steps and how to begin engaging with customers again. Here, Wavemaker’s Global Client President, Anna Hickey, maps out six hard-earned lessons from the crisis that brands can apply to build a successful future.
Test your way to a new baseline
Last year’s baseline is irrelevant. What you think you know about how consumers respond to your marketing is likely to be false. People are facing things that they’ve never had to face before – even something as mundane as their commute to work will look different. Be prepared to reset your levels of reach, response and engagement. Treat your back-to-market strategies like a series of experiments. Test and trial, continuously adapt, keep budgets and activations flexible between marketing channels, and learn fast about what the new baseline looks like.
Deploy your hard-won agility
If we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned to adapt, as people and as marketers. The open minds and willingness to change cultivated during the crisis will be invaluable assets in the months ahead. Be flexible and agile with decisions about media channel, creative, messaging, moments and phasing, and look to automated deployment, localisation and other agile means to enable a truly reactive approach.
Build a rock-solid base
All that agility requires steely underpinning, and it remains important to have a plan and fix what we can. Many of the foundational rules of marketing and purchase behaviour still apply. Strike a balance between controlling the known knowns, and planning for the known unknowns, with upfront vendor commitment, solid measurement frameworks and a clear view on planning parameters. It’s about fixing the new baseline and keeping your options open to maximise value and return in a world of shifting contexts.
Empathise and earn your place
What is important to people has changed; so brands need to fight harder to win consumers’ attention, preference and hard-earned money. Being able to meet up with more than one friend will feel like a huge priority; how and where that get-together takes place will kickstart a whole new process of consideration. Just because your brand was high on the list of priorities before, doesn’t mean it still is. Earn your place.
Virtual is reality
In a world where virtual has been the only reality, consumers now expect new levels of online experience. We can’t rely on physical retail or physical contact or physical experiences, so every marketer needs to leverage new routes to commerce, create new virtual engagements and optimise all digital channels. This has raised the bar hugely for digital communications – in particular for the level of personalisation people now expect from your brand’s content, with its knock-on effect on how this content is built out and deployed. Increasing sophistication among all audience groups, with advancing tech driving the convergence of digital channels (virtual events + personalisation + ecommerce in one hit), sets a gold standard for us all.
A strong brand is still queen
In a world of restricted choice and infinite time, where fear and uncertainty reigns, consumers are looking for reassurance from brands and from channels. Trust has become a more important driver of choice than ever before. Be wary of planning down a rabbit hole into smaller and ever decreasing circles of precision, where engagement is fractional and too hidden, and remember the power of broadcast engagement, reach in trusted platforms, with trusted partners, and the innate power of a strong brand.
Anna Hickey is a Global Client President at Wavemaker and a member of the Wavemaker Global Leadership team. Previously COO for Wavemaker UK, Anna has over twenty years of experience in the industry, working with big businesses like Maxus, GroupM and Dentsu’s Carat.