In a crisis, what’s always first to go?
When times are tough and the very survival of a business appears to be at stake, what do people look to cut? All too often, it’s the marketing budget. Marketing of all things! I do find this unbelievable, because there’s not much more important in business right now, than marketing.
As a marketing person, you’d probably expect me to say all this, but ask yourself – what do we need when our business is threatened? We need more business. So we need marketing. When budgets eventually return, you need to make sure you’re at the forefront of your customers’ minds. A quiet voice is not going to deliver that for you.
There are always those who say they don’t need marketing because their business comes from ‘word of mouth’. Yes, to some extent I get that. But what is ‘word of mouth’ itself, other than something your business has created? As such it needs feeding – so look after it with good marketing. I’m pleased – and relieved – to say that all my current clients are among those who have recognised the value of retaining and bolstering their marketing in this current time of crisis.
Everything, including marketing, has a use-by date
There is genuine delight to be taken in things that are fresh and squeaky-clean. A new website, new marketing collateral with strong and striking visuals and messages that are bang-on. When these start to work for us and we get into our marketing stride, our faith in them is further strengthened. But as with all things in life, over time, small, incremental changes cause subtle, imperceptible shifts in our landscape which go largely unrecognised, until, gradually…. we begin to become aware of gaps between back then and now, gaps which we suspect need addressing – at some point in the future.
Now is the perfect time to fix what needs fixing
When something as seismic as a coronavirus pandemic shakes our world, we need quick fixes as we battle to shore things up. After which, we would be well advised to turn on the lights and take a good, analytical look at our marketing operation in its entirety.
Are there concerns about the direction our marketing has been heading? Is there a sense that marketing and sales are not properly aligned? Or maybe a general feeling that outmoded or outdated marketing materials still being deployed are symptomatic of something else? It’s quite likely that you are no longer describing your compelling advantage clearly or succinctly.
A very good place to start…
The beginning. What better place to start than with the question – who are we? What kind of personality has our organisation developed over time? What do these traits imply about what we do and how we do it? How are we different from those who compete against us? What is it that makes us compelling? What does this imply about our values? Do our values run through everything we do? If not, what would it be like if they did? Do our values inform how we communicate – internally and externally? Do our values inform our corporate words and visuals, including our logo and straplines?
Addressing all of this requires dedication and resource, but the potential rewards are huge – and now is the perfect opportunity to get started.
Doing it right, and reaping the rewards
As I’ve said in previous social media posts, clients generally come to me with an identified communications need, but even though there are often associated issues, I rarely get the chance to address them.
So when my client Idea Group came to me a couple of years ago, and I was presented with just such an opportunity, it’s fair to say I jumped at it. This business which had, over time, developed from a pure consultancy to a business systems house, was recognising that its existing marketing no longer reflected the business that it had become. The directors’ willingness to challenge and question everything gave us great scope to drill down together and then build from the ground up. The new brand book that we developed is now enabling the business to develop marketing which matches product offerings to its identified target markets.
If you’re thinking that this might be the time to tread a similar path – and I would, of course recommend it – I would love to talk to you about how I may be able to help, so please get in touch.
In the midst of great uncertainty, there are choices to be made. Investing in marketing is a sane choice. Those who make this choice are giving themselves every chance to succeed and prosper when this is all over.