How current events are changing the marketing landscape and the operational systems are in need of critical review.
The rapid pace of change over the last few months may be giving some businesses whiplash, especially in the operations and marketing departments. What worked before doesn’t work now. Marketing messaging which worked well before, no longer resonates with the audience and can feel hollow during a time of crisis. ‘Business as usual’ is simply not an option amidst both a global pandemic and nation-wide protests against police brutality.
Employees are concerned they may get furloughed. Operations teams are just trying to hold the fort down; crunching numbers to see if they can keep afloat until we are out of the turmoil. Whispers of doom and gloom ripple throughout organizations.
The conversation with customers has shifted from selling to how they may support them through this crisis and hope not to lose large accounts. Staying true to your business’ “Culture Code” has become more important than ever. Consumer attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing habits are changing—and many of these new outlooks are here to stay. A new report by the Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. gross domestic product will lose nearly $16 trillion over the next decade because of the pandemic. Here are a few ways businesses can update their messaging to address the current state of the world.
1. Stay Nimble
Events and conferences are being canceled. Employee cutbacks require restructuring in the workforce to complete tasks. Budgets need to be reevaluated and updated. Surveys may be needed to acquire changing customer information to move forward.
Companies of all sizes will need to be flexible and move faster in order to adapt to the new world after COVID-19. Those who fail to pivot and adjust will face challenges and may struggle to stay in business.
2. Following New Mandates & Media
Obtaining information may be easier than ever but obtaining accurate information can take a little more effort. While job losses and stay-at-home orders have impacted how people spend their money, the recent protests are also having a serious impact on where people are consuming services and products, and people are beginning to prefer companies that reflect their values.
3. Be Authentic
An insincere or poorly thought out marketing strategy aimed at social justice can easily backfire. This infamously tone-deaf 2017 ad for Pepsi is a prime example. Customers can tell when advertising is less than genuine, so don’t make a statement just to be relevant. How can your marketing reflect both your company’s values and the cause at hand? Where do the two intersect?
Companies like Ben and Jerry’s have done a great job of taking a stand against police brutality while staying in line with their convictions. And many companies like Outdoor Research are converting manufacturing facilities to produce Personal Protective Equipment for the medical community in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Another good example is Nike, which tailored their COVID-19 message to their efforts, unveiling an effort encouraging people to ‘play inside’ during social-distancing. The campaign was a good addition to the company’s donation of $15 million towards COVID-19 efforts. Which brings up our next point…
It’s time to reflect on the situation and look at your business with a new perspective. Since customers are stressed and employees are taking on more duties with massive layoffs, the leadership team will need to decide on which directions to take both short-term and long-term. This is not the time to be stagnant and “wait and see” how things will turn out. The time to make adjustments are now. The “Business-As-Usual” management style will not work in this market.
Major brands can have a lot of sway over public opinion. According to Forbes contributor Holly Larson, “Companies that decades ago would have maintained a studied silence are now weighing in hard on issues ranging from gun violence to immigration and free speech, and they’re changing their strategy (marketing, sales, and lobbying) to match.”
Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx, stepped in early with a $5 Million donation to support female entrepreneurs with The Red Backpack Fund.
While aligning your company’s advertising with worthy causes during a time of crisis is a good place to start, scaling back major advertising and putting that money towards donations can be a worthy effort. It is also a good way to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak, and show your customers you’re more than just talk. A few charities to look into…
For guidance on how your organization may pivot or fully restructure after a crisis, contact an OUTRIGGER Business Advisor for a Free Strategy Session.