Opportunity is not a dirty word
Adapting to new situations and communicating the right messages can ensure you stay front of mind for your customers.
The last week has been strangely surreal. When #stayhome started it felt like all the gravity had been sucked out of the world. For a moment we held our collective breaths, winded by events, and it felt like we’d been transported into a surreal parallel universe. But we hadn’t. It was real. It is real.
Then we started talking again. We started analysing where we were, what we need to do and where we needed to be, to be safe. And, an action plan of sorts started to emerge to create a new normal. There is nothing quite like a common purpose to motivate a community to act, especially a community under threat.
Business adapts to the new normal
Businesses, shocked by the speed and ferocity of events, seemed to pause, but only fleetingly and industries started to reach out to explain their new approach, intentions and thinking in dealing with the crisis. People who could, went home, people got online, people communicated and on we went. On we go. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Zoom, BlueJeans, Skype, Teams – all powered up enabling communities to adapt to the new normal. But what does that mean for B2B marketing communications and its sibling, PR?
Sage advice has appeared on LinkedIn advising us not to use the global pandemic, COVID-19, as a marketing or PR opportunity, that such an approach would be inappropriate, unforgivable and would reflect badly on our brands. My perspective is somewhat different. Any major change in market circumstance calls for reflection, refocus and engagement; while any major challenges in my supply chain require empathy, kindness and consideration.
Inaction is a missed opportunity
There is, after all, a difference between exploiting something for commercial gain and using a situation as an opportunity to improve how you make your customers’ lives better. If remote working and this new sense of community means we can be more efficient and effective, or we can do something with more joy and satisfaction – then we can offer our customers a better deal as a result. If we remain unchanged and unimproved in the new reality, we have failed to grow, and we have wasted the opportunity presented to us.
Empathy is the glue that binds us together
If, what you should say to whom, when and why are the pillars of your communication strategy, then ‘how you deliver your message’ is welded into the fabric of its entirety. Right now, communicating with empathy and authenticity is critical. Whether your communication strategy is half-formed or fully formed, use this opportunity to improve it, make sure that internally and externally, the language you are using is being projected with certainty and kindness. Make sure you are sending out the right message to the right people in a way that makes you feel confident and proud. If you get your communication right in a crisis you will gain significant competitive advantage and build brand loyalty – simply from doing the right thing.
Strong leadership is more essential than ever in crisis mode
This is a huge opportunity for marketing communications because the people you work with (internally and externally) are expecting change and looking for strong leadership. This is your opportunity to provide exactly that. While I nod my head with respect to Lady Luck acknowledging that some business leaders might do everything right and still be knocked down by this virus, I maintain that both in the medium and long-term, business success will depend on the quality of its leadership. I am not talking about tactical leadership, the tick box type of leadership which allows or enables us to work from home and try to ‘carry on as normal’. I am talking about strategic leadership which continues to pursue its vision, embrace change, adapt its comms and thereby provide a sense of certainty and security to its business community – its staff, customers and supply chain.
The coming months will reveal heroism, bravery, fear and sorrow on an unprecedented scale in recent times. It will also reveal outstanding leadership in the commercial world.
I hope Lady Luck smiles on you and your families.