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What marketing should we be doing right now?

What marketing should we be doing right now?

There’s a famous quote (which may or may not be a Chinese proverb) that says: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.’ What it’s basically saying is if you want success in the future, you should take action now.

Marketing is taking a bit of a battering at the moment, and we all know that when times get tough, it’s often the first budget that gets cut. But should it be?

I would argue that actually marketing is just as important and relevant today as it always is. And just as it always should be, it needs to be thoughtful, helpful and constructive. We’ve seen some brilliant (and terrible) marketing over these last few weird weeks where more has changed, more quickly than I think any of us have seen in our lifetime!

So, what sort of marketing should we be doing right now?

Brand marketing and communication

Quite rightly, brands have been wary about seeming to profit from the crisis and so some have been more reticent in their communications, keeping a low profile and even stopping activity altogether. But in a recent article from B2B Marketing, Sam Tidswell-Norrish, CMO at Dun and Bradstreet said ‘We all know that marketing budgets are often the first to be reviewed when times get tough, but conversely this could be a situation where marketing professionals can step up, demonstrate creativity and play a key role in helping their organisation weather the storm.’

Some brands have taken the opportunity to show what they stand for and externalise their purpose and demonstrate the values that the company actually stands for. For example – Pret a Manger gave free drinks and discounts on food to NHS staff, and many shops and restaurants are offering discounts for NHS workers. Brewdog started manufacturing hand sanitiser and Huit, a small Welsh jeans manufacturer is going to start making gowns for the NHS. There’s a good article from The Drum about brands’ responses here.

Supporting your sales people

These days are tough for everyone, but the coming weeks and months could be even tougher. So while it may seem not very PC to talk about wanting to stay in business right now, we also have to act now to save as many jobs as we can, and do what we can to protect ourselves, our families and our economy from the even tougher times that may be coming.

Personally, I’m doing what I can to support my local businesses – those that are running takeaway or delivery services and even down to my yoga teacher who is running classes on Zoom! But for larger businesses and going back to my tree quote at the beginning of this article, we need to support our sales teams and help them to at least maintain a pipeline so that when the immediate crisis is over, we all have work to do. This is where ABM can still help, and here’s the reasons why:

1.     Lack of time is often a reason for not getting started on ABM. But now is an ideal time to engage with sales teams and get the benefit of their insights on their customers and your markets and build a plan for the future. In these uncertain times what can you do to connect with and reassure your customers? What can you learn from how businesses are reacting and how can you make your communications more personal and relevant? (I think we’re all sick of those emails from every business you’ve ever dealt with about what they’re doing to protect people right now. It’s like GDPR all over again!).

2.     Can you spend this time researching your customers – perhaps directly by asking them what they would like to see from you right now? Or making sure you understand if their business has been hit hard by the current crisis and letting them know you are in their corner. Even just an email checking in to see how they are doing on a human level can be helpful. Fluxx, an innovation consultancy are recruiting people to participate in what they are calling the ‘Biggest working from home experiment’ to see what can be learned and used to improve the future post coronavirus.

Looking after your customers and staff

It now feels more normal to let customers see your human side. Kids and dogs on conference calls are now a reason to smile rather than wince. This time has reminded us we’re all human, we’re all having to cope not only with work (if we’re lucky enough to have it), but looking after our families, pets, elderly relatives and friends who are self-isolating as well. Plus trying to keep our respective chins up without resorting (too much) to Netflix and alcohol!

Some great examples I’ve seen are DiversiTech Hub who are running online STEM sessions for kids, Palo Alto Networks whose CEO announcedthere would be no Covid-19 job losses and that he was foregoing his salary to help the business, and Avvio who have launched a Digital Academy to help hoteliers upskill and protect their businesses at a super difficult time for the hospitality industry. Even better, you don’t have to be one of their customers to use the system. Lastly, Sweaty Betty is offering 20% of all things yoga. And that can never be a bad thing.

If you’d like to catch up over a virtual coffee, chat about anything marketing related or just need to escape from the kids and the pets for a while, then ping me a message, as probably, so do I!

And the photo at the top of this piece is one I took while walking round my village in the sunshine the other day. In the spirit of being grateful for what we do have – I’m glad spring, and sunshine haven’t been cancelled.

Stay safe and keep well! 🙂

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