Are we going back to normal? The news on phased, state-mandated openings suggests otherwise, and uncertainty is the new normal.
We’re going to be going back and forth between social isolation and a new state of social interaction with certain physical limitations. Consumers will fluctuate between staying at home and redefining what going out means, governed by their perception of what’s safe.
I’ve been a global marketing executive for 15 years, and I’ve worked with and for dozens of iconic brands. Big companies cannot easily alter their marketing strategy and plan to allow for such polarizing and close to real-time shifts in consumer habits. On top of that, Covid-19 has become a trend accelerator. Brands are expected to step up, and the narrative on big data is shifting as tech companies unite efforts for the greater good. Cam-to-cam has become the new face-to-face, and streaming is on hyperdrive as businesses try to retain customers with ecommerce exploding.
Your team might still be focused on responding to those trends with creative asset agility, change in the tone and type of your communications and shifting more investment to performance media. But accelerated trends and instant shifts in behavior require rapid pivots to fundamental strategy rather than the gradual change that corporations are typically accustomed to. Taking a leap is the new step.
So, how do you prepare to better anticipate and execute in such a volatile environment?
Focus on the customer journey
For CPG and retailers, the shopper journey has become significantly more digitally focused. Clearly design your customer journeys and map those back to behaviors between cohorts. It is important to understand what the new journey looks like, as this will allow you to quickly pivot between customer states without compromising your core strategy and tactics.
Reimagine your digital experiences
If you’re in retail or entertainment, use technology to provide tangible value to your customers because physical experiences now have imposed limitations. Function and convenience should always trump flashy activations. Live experiences need to be reinvented to build loyalty and allow for monetization over ephemeral engagement.
Optimize your marketing tech stack
Don’t overthink it, especially if you’re a traditional brand in auto, fast-food or consumer goods. Focus on areas that can be easily changed and show immediate ROI. In this ecommerce boom, testing and optimizing is more important than scale. Consider rapid testing, faster approaches to measurement and analytics and nimble personalization tools. Focus on automation to free up time for strategy; DTC brands have long benefitted from this approach.
Rethink the distribution of human capital
This is particularly relevant if you’re a global company. We’re entering an unprecedented era of accelerated demand for personalization. Seize the opportunity to outperform your competitors and drive growth.
Use the ICE score framework (ICE = Impact x Confidence x Ease) to prioritize tasks and focus on what has the most impact to your bottom line. The higher the ICE score, the higher the likelihood those tasks need to be tightly orchestrated between your internal teams and your agency.
Reconfigure your agency teams to foster greater agility and speed to market. Make sure that specialists in your staffing plan are focused on the high-impact tasks and channel experts can quickly pivot to new approaches and tactics. It’s a prime opportunity to reorient any not fully utilized FTEs to high-impact tasks, making sure you’re structured to act on insights as close to real-time as possible.
Fix any gaps in your data infrastructure and strategy
Internal disconnects and contradicting agendas create gaps in your short- and long-term vision on data. Given the dynamic nature of consumer behavior in this environment, it’s now more pressing than ever to have a strong data backbone that enables you to have a complete view of your customer and the ability to identify trends so speedy action can be taken.
Focus on simplified ways of working
I’m sure you have been battling silos and cumbersome internal processes that have known bottlenecks, especially if you’re a global brand in travel, QSR, financial services or electronics. The current environment will magnify any imperfections or obstacles in your way. Take the time to optimize now, and it will pay significant dividends in the near future. Ultimately, it could be the sole differentiator between a rapidly growing brand versus a lagging brand.
History is being written in real-time, and as a marketer, you need to mobilize and adopt a growth-hacking mindset as this shift is happening. Focusing on the above suggestions will have an exponential effect. In some cases, it will decide whether or not your brand survives or thrives in a post-Covid-19 world.
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