April 6, 2020
What planning must you do now for the inevitable new normal
It’s frantic busy. Every marketing department and agency is resettling and refocusing. Spinning multiple plates as usual!
Last week, the below diagram was shared with me on the Drum Network Slack channel. I loved it – it summed up every conversation I have had over the last three weeks. We have moved from shock to frustration (maybe anger and fear) into acceptance. Now though, if we want to get our brands back on track, we need to start rebuilding.
Now is the time to look up at the mid and long term, where are we heading with our marketing and how are we going to get there.
The pandemic is poised to change us as a society forever and we’re seeing the signals already. The economy and technology will change alongside a redefining of a society that will also change the role of brands. You cannot wait for this to be over to define how your company will fit into these changes, or you’ll let others steal a march on you.
Of course, exactly how this plays out is uncertain. But having spent 16 years in social in an ever-changing landscape, I am keen to share with you some of the ways you can think ahead and plan
There are three areas to focus on to ensure considered planning
- The macro trend and signals
- Innovations and disruption
- The more things change, the more they stay the same
Let’s go through these:
Macro trends and signals
Society is always changing. That is normal. Already climate change, organisation values, work life balance and so on were changing the way we thought and behaved as a society. Some of these fundamental changes are accelerating through the pandemic and will appear stronger when we are out the other side:
- Trust – Trust in Brands was already in decline before the pandemic. Our audiences are even more sceptical, sensitive and questioning. As Ashley Friedlein, Founder of Guild and Econsultancy, said in his 2020 trends, “for marketers, and brands, [trust] is critical and the battle of the next decade will be about (re)gaining trust with customers. Coming up with a new ‘purpose’, touting your ‘values’, claiming ‘authenticity’ and ‘transparency’ alone won’t cut it.” Our plans need to look how we create a purpose that builds or rebuilds trust.
- There was an increasing desire for experiences [over acquisition]. This is now accompanied by a need for human interaction from brands and their requirement for an emotional connection in marketing.
- I will add one other accelerating trend. Although not obvious before, I think it will grow from our feelings of restriction. And that is a longing for comfort in products and services. Possibly reflected in nostalgia, or affordable luxury. Our marketing will need to be more real and genuine than anything before.
Oh the signals of change are surfacing with rapidity:
- Facebook claims it’s seen a 70% increase in time spent across all its apps and group calls are up 1000%
- Insta and Facebook Live views have doubled
- More importantly WhatsApp has seen a 40% increase in usage – in Spain it is up 76%. The dark social are fired up and brands need to figure out how to use them
Social is the go to channel (after news) and it is likely to mean more user’s stay with it as an essential way to communicate.
Innovation and disruption in social is already starting
New formats bring greater functionality to all platforms from immediate subtitles on lives to new trend summaries on Pinterest, and new playlists and series on Facebook video.
Social channels aren’t standing still when it comes to disruptive ideas. Snap’s social distancing filter and Facebook’s deal with Plessey for VR are all steps forward in AR and VR that will speed into reality quickly.
And it goes on. Rumour has it, YouTube is looking at a rival to Tik Tok, and new players are grabbing some of the limelight too – think Houseparty.
Not everything is changing
Finally, understand that some things will not change. When this is over, birthdays will be celebrated, we’ll go out to dinner, we’ll meet friends, we’ll buy clothes, we’ll watch the latest reality show. Heck we’ll still have Christmas!
So now is the time to look at the social data across the last 18 months. Decide what peaks and themes are likely to stay or grow and which may fall by the wayside. Consider the relevant sector specific conversations and look for the bubbles of chatter that are likely to be repeated.
Pay attention to the changing tone and what matters most to your customers, see if recent events have changed things and what has stayed the same.
Then start planning your future, to be in the right place today
The idea is that you understand your audience attitude and value, their interests and where they are playing and what’s grabbing attention. You look for the things that continue and the stuff that will definitely change. You map out what your audience wants, needs and desires.
- Then you plan your brand’s role in it. Your ‘new normal’ purpose.
- Your messaging is going to need to be robust and thought through.
- Scenario plan for different outcomes. Allow your team time to tweak and prepare content and comms that will flex in any given situation. Design and repurpose your skill set for agility. The brands that move fast get to own the consumer mindset first.
Thinking about this now, will ensure you are consistent in your comms. That is what will build trust and confidence in your brand. Take the time to consider that what you are saying today, will be the same as what you will say tomorrow. Be a brand that communicates coherently.
Plan now for a better future.