To talk about marketing is to talk about strategy. And talking about strategy is talking about planning. But how can we plan when we are surrounded by so much uncertainty?
First of all, it is important to accept uncertainty as a new business variable, a foregone conclusion, which is neither good nor bad, just a new feature, with increased risks, but also opportunities and learnings.
Is it possible to plan the unknown? Perhaps not, but it is possible to become agile and increase internal resilience by creating management tools prepared to make simulations and create change.
In times of uncertainty, in life as in brand strategy, the proven formula stands: protect yourself more, isolate yourself for a while if you need to rethink your approach, and come out with due caution. And as brands started coming out again, we began to glimpse the opportunities created by the challenging times we are living in: new ways of connecting, which allowed us to discover new ways of interacting with colleagues, customers, partners and the outside world. If there were any doubts about the importance of digital technologies for society, this pandemic has put an end to them.
Even with the media saturated with news on today’s main topic, digital technologies became the only available channel for brands to stay active. So, let’s make the most of it!
One of the advantages of digital technologies is real-time presence. It allows us to assess needs and be flexible to adapt where necessary. And when tomorrow’s forecast looks even more sombre, every day is a day for “listening to the customer” and implement. Proactivity and reinvention have never been more relevant.
Another great advantage is the huge communication potential of this channel, which brings with it a series of challenges but also possibilities. With regard to communication, companies adopted different approaches: some remained in business-as-usual mode, keeping their communication unchanged; others drastically changed their strategy, focusing on COVID-19; others decided to reduce the communication flow during this period; others adapted and integrated new ways of presenting themselves, which forced them to better understand their place in this new world. What is the best strategy? There is not just one single good strategy, but powerful takeaways have emerged:
- It is crucial to listen carefully to people’s concerns, not just from a commercial or sales perspective, but to understand what affects them most. It’s time to think about how to contribute, it’s time for service, not just self-promotion.
- When it comes to B2B communication, digital technologies have shown that one-way communications are over: companies are now required to interact much more closely and permanently with their ecosystem. Customers and partners are looking for knowledge, they want to know how to improve their skills and what to do in challenging times, and companies need to show them how to navigate this new world.
- People are far more alert and therefore companies will be under greater scrutiny: are they promoting some kind of positive action, are they giving any real contribution, do they implement sustainable measures, what messages are they conveying, how do they behave towards employees? Now more than ever a responsible strategy is essential to consolidate the desired positioning of companies.
- Authenticity is the current watchword for how companies need to present themselves. There has to be total alignment between what companies say, what they do and ultimately what they really are.
- Omnichannel communication, a much-talked-about marketing expression, enabling a personalised, assertive and coherent message across all channels, must now be put into practice with a focus on brand transparency and authenticity, and serving concrete purposes for society.
Taking into account all the learnings, now is the time to prepare for the next challenges, supporting the acceleration of digitalisation with a strategy of sustainability and responsibility at various levels: economic, social and environmental.
Now is the time to take responsibility for our actions, to incorporate the best practices and benefits of this new digital world. Above all, now is the time to recognise that, as companies, we have a responsibility to set a new course for the future, and to advocate the changes we see as positive. This seems to be the new superpower of Communication: advocating the good, never forgetting the purpose of each brand and its impact on the World.
Raquel Valente and Marta Furtado,
BORA – Full Service Marketing Agency