Making the case for change.
We’re still in the midst of lockdown, adapting to everything that’s changed, and anticipating everything that’s still to come. In this time of uncertainty, providing support and being useful are the order of the day for all brand owners.
We’ve seen businesses looking at where they can help people — from offering free products for front line workers to diverting manufacturing lines to produce much needed supplies.
Rightly so, brands are taking action to support customers and the broader community in the most immediate and impactful way possible, by being useful and valuable.
This is right for now and this moment, but it’s interesting to consider what happens next. When lockdown starts to lift and the pressure on society and individuals eases, will this new brand behaviour stick? Has this crisis given marketing a shunt that will shake things up for good, or will we go back to the way things were beforehand?
I’d like to make the case that we’d all be better off if a shift does happen, and we take the opportunity to plan strategies that expand on current behaviours, with a core focus on creating value for customers, not at the compromise of selling products, but as a new way of doing it.
And here’s why.
Let’s face it, it’s not as though we didn’t know things needed to change before this crisis began. We’ve witnessed an erosion in brand trust and a decline in relevance as traditional advertising strategies have felt bloated and out of step with people’s expectations. Advertising’s been in its own crisis, for a long time.
Secondly, being of value is not a new concept. Connecting your brand with a clear and authentic purpose and using content to create valuable interactions with customers have both been on the rise in recent times, as brands have sought to chip away at the problem around trust and relevance. Although these have often been employed tactically and seen as nice to haves, the blueprint is there.
Finally, and from a purely commercial standpoint, being of value to the people that you want to buy your products makes for a pretty solid commercial strategy. Why? Because we always remember the ones that go out of their way to help us out, and being remembered is what marketing’s all about.
Historically brands have focussed on investing in making products valuable — which is of course very logical, as that’s where they make money — but there hasn’t been a proper application of this principle in marketing.
If the opportunity here is for brands to make a change in their marketing, let’s call it a ‘value-turn’, I think it’s one that should be seized fully. But it requires long set behaviours and beliefs about the role of marketing and how to measure its effectiveness to be broken up and reimagined.
As we look at planning for what comes post-Covid, the disruption we’re facing is the opportunity to make a shift.
At any time of societal adversity, cultural norms evolve, and what is deemed the status quo going forward will not be what it was pre-Covid. No one is exempt from this new outlook, brands included. So now’s the time to adapt and not get left behind.
An enforced pause like this makes it possible to develop new frameworks that replace the legacy models and bring in an age of value in brand marketing.