One thing we can all agree on is that “business as usual” is a thing of the past.
Disruption across every industry, including our own, has been unprecedented but the needs businesses now have are not new. Brands across all categories still need to drive growth, nurture connections with consumers, and prepare for what is ahead. What has changed, however, is how companies achieve these imperatives amidst the pandemic.
As brands around the world look forward to recovery, here are three things they need to consider as they build their future-proofing roadmaps to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.
One size doesn’t fit all. Nimble local strategies win.
It has never been more important for marketers to keep a pulse on evolving consumer behavior and the impact those behaviors have on marketplaces. Even more important is to ensure local nuance: one size does not fit all, even inside a market.
National advertisers need to form nimble local strategies, and historically locally-focused advertisers may be impacted as local competition stiffens. As businesses begin to re-open and invite consumers back into their physical locations (think travel, hospitality, entertainment sectors to name a few), they must ensure service offerings and messaging take into account shelter-in-place end dates, infection incidences and consumer anxiety levels in specific geographies. Without these considerations, brand messaging risks being tone deaf and consumers will turn to competitors who are more in-tune with their needs and circumstances.
Outcome based solutions more important than ever .
In this time of peak uncertainty, there is no room for waste (or risk). Businesses are under immense pressure to keep pace with consumer behavior that is changing from week to week – first the massive movement to sheltering in place for much of the US population, and now a tentative movement back into public life - one municipality at a time.
Brands need to optimize ad budgets and channel mixes to stay close to their consumers — leaning hard into performance marketing tactics, geo-segmented messaging, CRM and insights that drive dynamic messages. Brands need infrastructure that helps them deliver personalization at scale, maximizes impact and efficiency, and ensure marketing investments are driving business to stay open today.
Smart marketers are looking to outcome-driven solutions that provide marketing and measurement transparency, where conversions with a guaranteed to return an advantage for their businesses at a time when they need it more than ever.
New digital experiences give way to new, deeper insights and impact.
Every aspect of how people work, shop, play, consume media and interact with brands has changed with this pandemic – and each of those interactions rely more and more on digital experiences – giving rise to a greater proliferation of new signals. Within Publicis, Epsilon has seen a 20% increase in digital signals stemming from new behaviors amid shelter in place mandates, and this surge of data creates opportunity for agile marketers to modernize business models and push even more deeply in to digitally-enhanced servicing and ecommerce.
Recovery will not change this reliance on digital -- after months of adjusting to contactless experiences, consumers will not retreat from omni-channel access and convenience. For some companies, this digital-everything reality will be an awakening, and for others, an acceleration. Against this backdrop, the use of data is more important than ever for identifying high-value customers and deeply understanding their new behaviors.
Going forward, brands must be hyper-focused on smart technologies and experience design that puts people at the center. Marketers can lean into AI and machine learning to tackle real time decisioning and optimization, all the while delivering more 1:1 personalized content to consumers. To build this creative, production capabilities need to quickly evolve to become agile, supporting brand messaging in a rapid-response manner as consumer (and advertiser) needs continue to evolve.
It’s clear that things have changed for good - consumers have been so quick to adapt, exhibiting new and replacement behaviors, all driving up the need for digital maturity. How we operate as advertisers and agencies must change as well. Brands poised to perform and prosper will reduce risks in the now, while planning their transformation to digital in preparation for the next new normal.