Companies need an agency-partner now, more than ever. Typically, even industry powerhouses have small internal marketing departments, some with people wearing multiple hats, and it can seem very overwhelming to evaluate how to proceed forward. Further complicating the climate is what worked pre-pandemic is not going to resonate in the current climate, and even post-COVID-19, there will be an unprecedented “new normal.”
Marketers don’t have to go it alone; agencies already versed in crisis communications, for example, can serve as marketers’ right-hand advisors, i.e. an extension of their internal team. Marketers can successfully navigate uncharted waters to keep brand sales moving in a positive trajectory by leaning on experts for help. Agencies provide discipline-specific expertise, so a marketer’s brand doesn’t become a case study in what NOT to do. Tapping agency experts for strategic guidance, messaging development, creative directions and audience sentiment analysis can provide the foundation that marketers need to build communications programming that resonate with and retain interest from target audiences in a time of global crisis.
This is NOT the time to move away from supporting your brand with marketing tactics. As described in this article from The Marketing Insider, historically brands that have cut marketing spend in times of crisis saw significant sales decreases in comparison to brands who kept the “creative lights on,” and subsequently saw exceptionally positive sales increases. A few things to consider together with your agency partner(s) to develop strong, effective communications plans:
Re-evaluating Your Marketing Mix: Now more than ever, brand managers need to work with their agencies to assess their current strategies and determine if they still align with the overall goal of remaining relevant. To accomplish this, companies need a proactive, authentic and distinguishing narrative that is aligned with stakeholders. Be mindful to cost effective techniques that meet your audience where they are. Now might be the time to put a pin in out-of-home techniques, while shaking things up with hyper-targeted, digital content could be an alternative. For more tips on digital content during Covid-19, check out our previous blog, The New Norm: Shifting Consumer Engagement to Digital.
Getting an Outside Perspective: Tapping into communications expertise across many verticals via agency partners leads to a fuller arsenal of best practices and creative concepts that can set companies apart by stretching beyond specific industry norms. The more minds, the better, to delve deep into what a brand stands for and how to communicate in a sensitive way to audiences in a “new normal.”
Remembering Transparency is the Name of the Game: Communication, both internally and externally, is no longer a courtesy, but rather a necessity. On an internal level, companies must remember that employees quickly become your biggest advocates or toughest critics, making it essential to instill confidence in your brand’s plan by disseminating it openly and honestly across all channels. Work alongside your agency to strategically and purposefully shift your internal communications, keeping in mind consistent messaging. We’re starting to see companies like Away and Minted being more transparent than ever, all while making tough decisions about salaries and benefits. This technique helps strengthen brand loyalty – something essential to success in a post-COVID-19 environment.
Thinking Short Term: As brands continue to navigate the new norm, now is the time to focus on quick, actionable goals. With agency assistance and “all hands on deck,” this can easily be done. While marketing professionals normally prefer to think about the long-term game, there is far too much uncertainty to know what our day-to-day habits will look like in a few weeks, let alone a few months.Bringing it back to our first tip, re-evaluate plans, techniques and tactics OFTEN to ensure you’re meeting immediate needs. There is no simple roadmap or easy wins; all we suggest is to lean on experts for counsel and work together to chart the course.