We are living in a time where uncertainty has become the new normal. What presents itself at noon might be entirely different two hours later. You may be thinking that COVID-19 is to blame but it’s only a fraction of the reason.
As marketers, we are faced with the enormous task of keeping our brand visible in the age of digital. A successful marketer has the ability to adjust their strategy in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
The current noise is directed to a global pandemic, where some brands are struggling to keep their heads above water. Layer into that the anxiety felt by people across the globe and the economic ramifications of the recent turmoil and now you have the formula for a few sleepless nights, endless hours and a “needle in the haystack” scenario.
Now more than ever, marketers need to be prepared to react to such change and uncertainty.
My idea for this article came together as I read this recent Crunchbase story around the Black Swan. It talks about what precautions leaders must take in order to come out the other end of this stronger than before. I like to call this “preparing for the rebound.”
The article addressed financial steps needed in order to weather the storm, but as a marketer, I focused on one particular element of this story: where “raising the return on marketing investment” becomes a strategic approach companies must include in their recession planning.
I love this concept. It’s more than just being there for our customers and community. It’s forecasting what problems they will face before they face them. It’s recognizing that when your customer is in a pinch, marketing should be their number one support to help them.
Part of me sits back and says – here we go again – it’s 2008 all over. Will we be asked to tilt the scales and provide brands with a set of expectations that are too difficult to meet? Will this dilute the value of our programs and how far marketing has come to prove its value to the c-suite? Will we sacrifice too much strategy for the tactical execution?
Based on the value of customer experiences and overall growth impact that marketing clearly has on the business, I lean towards no. Some might say yes and back down, but to me it’s time for marketing to step up to the plate.
Expectations will drive success, and in times like this it’s the expectations we set for ourselves that matter most. We need to rise to the opportunity and do our part by throwing out the ROI of yesterday. 39% of marketers say proving the ROI of their marketing activities is their top marketing challenge. Let’s be clear though – I’m not referring to the ROI of your content, or what return you’re seeing on paid initiatives. I’m talking big picture.
Let’s look at PAN for example. As an agency, we provide support to B2B brands through content, social, earned media and everything in between. Sure, we’re tasked with measuring the impact of each of these programs individually through our PANoptic measurement program. But when it boils down to making cuts during times of uncertainty, it’s the value of our entire program that truly matters.
In times of challenge, we must come together and unite around the common good of the brand. Rather than focusing so much on the annual program, take a “by the day” or even hourly approach.
If that means stretching beyond our limits, typical budgets or activities – so be it. Have conversations with your team, your C-Suite, or other departments to recognize that resources are going to be stretched thin, and that’s OK. It’s our way of showing support and letting our “partners in brand” know we are in this for the long haul.
And while the pressure of these adjustments may feel like it’s weighing heavily, I want to make sure we don’t lose the value of what brought us (marketing) here today: Partnership, creativity, transparency, accountability and most importantly, empathy.
Go that extra mile to show your love for the brand. Do YOUR part and support your team in ways that extend beyond your typical responsibilities. Make adjustments that address the current COVID-19 landscape, while remaining optimistic about the future where positive news wins out and business begins to drive happiness again.
As expectations shift, remember that we are playing a critical role in the digital era. Today, content, employees and customer are one, and experience fuels narrative. Marketers are now largely responsible for driving customer experiences from the point of inception to loyalty. Don’t lose sight of that value and continue to own that opportunity.
At PAN, we started our business 25 years ago, built off of strictly PR and earned media. Since then, we’ve evolved to take CX and digital experience head on. Why? We love the chase of the story, the challenges of the data and the impact we can drive on sales, revenue and customer experience.
We truly feel we’ve found the perfect formula for adding undeniable value to any business.
As the experience economy moves forward, remember that marketing should be in the front seat. We need to come together as a team – as an industry – to continue owning this responsibility in a time when we’re needed the most.
If I had to choose one piece of advice to share with you coming out of this article it would be this: Now is the time to deliver. Just when you think you’ve met expectations, find a way to surpass them. It’s time to step up to the plate and show our partners why we are all in this together. Time will tell – but I’m betting that we can reinvent marketing like never before.