What To Do Now?

How to navigate the Covid-19 long- and short-term game

Advice abounds right now … and we surely all need it, as the impacts of the Covid-19 fallout become evident to businesses and brands around the world.  So, while for many leaders, now is the time to pause and consider the options, it’s the long- and short-term decisions that they make that will make the difference.  So, what are the most prudent moves that leaders can make to future-proof their businesses? Certainly, they need to urgently identify those critical drivers that will support day to day operations and then they need to have swift recovery plans in place post the crisis.

One of these business drivers is marketing although currently, for many, this feels wrong, even wasteful. However, companies still need to communicate with their customers in these tough times in order to minimize the impact on the business. Now is the time to adopt a short- and long-term game plan to guide your communication to support immediate needs and build brand reputation in a time of crisis.

For trading companies, the sales drive may be effectively supported online with tactical campaigns.  These campaigns could, for example, demonstrate how certain critical products and services can assist companies and their employees in working remotely, or how non-working people can keep calm, busy, entertained and relaxed in this forced downtime. These campaigns take on a rational approach of addressing needs and providing solutions.  In turn, they will elicit responses which will, ultimately, translate into sales. It is important to ensure communication messages are designed to help, support and inspire customers and to avoid any hard sale backlash. Short-term campaigns would typically run over a few weeks and may easily be measured through sales and online analytics.

While the short-term game makes sense right now for some, it is an excellent time for trading and non-trading companies to build brand reputation online. How a brand responds, behaves and demonstrates its values in tough times says a lot about that brand and how customers perceive that brand. While we know that many online customers are skeptical about brand messaging, now is the time to step up and demonstrate the humanity, humility and integrity of your brand.

But is online the right place to build brand? There are many successful brands that have built their reputations online, but we know many leaders still question the effectiveness of this channel. The reason for this is that traditional online methodologies do not support the basic principles of brand building and the approach to online content development and management needs to be adjusted in order to effectively build your brand online.

To do this, one needs to adopt a long-term game that will support brand perception and assist in business recovery in the future. One needs to shift the approach by developing a brand building framework that supports the flow of content and the media placement and measurement.

We all know creativity is not something that can be reduced to data points and a simple formula. However, developing a framework will assist in making the right creative decisions when developing content. The framework needs to include fame builders, supported by short stories and ‘always on’ distinctive cues. This will enable the brand to be distinctive.  It helps reinforce top of mind awareness. When developing different types of content, it is important to remember that messages need to emotionally connect and build towards a common understanding that supports the brand’s purpose and values.

Having great content is one thing but without the support of media, it is meaningless and vice versa.  There are three very simple principles that guide effective online media buying when building brand:

  • Reach more people than just your followers more frequently
  • Multiply your social media touch points to achieve a compound effect
  • Apply a 60/40 media spend split when allocating budget for long-term and short-term growth strategies.

Lastly, measurement is critical.  It reflects effectiveness and flags when things are not working so well. However, the measurement tools need to be adapted when building a brand online. Current analytics that include followers, engagement and clicks are not accurate for brand measurement as the research by Facebook has shown that they bear no correlation to brand recall, awareness or perception and this means that using traditional analytics as measurement is misguided. Online brand measurement needs to be more long term and could include measurement metrics such as brand lift studies, reach, frequency, Ad recall, ThruPlay and CPM.

So, while we face uncertainty, and we rally against adopting knee-jerk short-termism, it is imperative that we keep sight of the long-term goal and apply it now in our short-term activities.  That kind of messaging and intent will be remembered.  It will resonate and it will hold true as long as leaders also hold true to sustaining and building their businesses and brands. True leaders – the new leaders – will be the ones who rise and take decisive action to support their business now and in the future.

Written by: Michele van Heerden – Matter Advertising

If you need any assistance with messaging during this time, Wired Communications is on standby to help you