It’s Not Just a Pandemic, It’s a Full-Fledged Reset That Marketers Must Embrace

Your future depends on how you handle trust, values and action

Pandemic. Lock down. Work at home. Rollercoaster economy. Social upheaval. Contact-free shopping. Social distance. Masks. Remember when these terms weren’t part of our everyday vocabulary?

Take a moment and think back to the beginning of 2020. Back to when “coronavirus” was a phrase just below the surface of most of our consciousness and “pandemic” was something that happened in movies and TV.

Perhaps when this all began back in March, you started to think about how you would respond as a marketer. What might you have to do differently? How would you rearrange your business priorities in the weeks ahead when consumer focus was locked onto social distancing, masks and sheltering from home? Weeks, maybe months, of some degree of uncertainty seemed assured. Certainly, this virus would be handled and life would be back to normal.

But, it is now clear that this is not busines as usual at all. This crisis is truly different and far more fundamental. This is a distinct change, an inflection point, a shift from one time to another.

This is “The Reset.”

What has emerged from the ongoing crises—pandemic, economic uncertainty, global political tensions, impending U.S. elections, social unrest—is unprecedented and fundamentally rewrites many of the rules and beliefs that have carried us to this point. The Reset impacts every sector of society, every individual, every business and institution, and every nation. Some will emerge with newfound strengths and capabilities; some will not emerge at all.

Embracing The Reset

For marketers, The Reset manifests itself in several important ways: trust, values and action. Understanding each is a requirement as we build our plans. Marketers must move from an endless reactive stance to a definitive proactive one.

The successful marketer in the future will keep a close eye on rapid change, as well as the newly established social norms—all of which are intertwined with the key elements of The Reset.

The Trust Reset represents the lens through which marketers must think about every engagement they create, from digital to physical. Consumers around the globe have been at the center of an unprecedented and unexpected shift in how they live, work and play. Trust in brands, governments, public institutions and even other people has evaporated.

The Values Reset is the other side of trust. As consumers and businesses have their trust eroded, they also are having their values rewritten. Months of isolation have created an opportunity for individuals and families to evaluate things they have long valued. From questioning the need for certain types of clothing (who really wants to wear a jacket and tie on a video call?) to realizing that they can bake their own bread instead of purchasing it, simple values are shifting.

The Action Reset is the structure under which marketers—and society overall—will begin to write the playbook for the future. Action here means the mechanisms, tools, and protocols of engagement among people, businesses, and social institutions. It is ultimately where marketing must lead in creating and embracing new channels, new tempos and new ideals.

The Reset presents significant challenges and opportunities for marketers to review and rewrite their playbooks. Winning in the world after ongoing crises and seismic shifts in consumer expectations requires careful planning, deep understanding of customers and revolutionary thinking in the use of digital marketing tools. Marketers must step up now and build new best practices quickly if they want their brands to survive and thrive in the new world.

As CMO of marketing technology company Acoustic, Norman Guadagno has been deeply involved in building an organization under the unique circumstances of the global coronavirus pandemic, and in creating a brand that directly challenges the incumbent players in the space. Previously, as SVP of marketing for Carbonite, he helped build and manage one of the industry’s most productive and efficient digital marketing teams.