The year may have come to an end but the impact it made to our life is going to continue. It has dramatically changed the way we live, work, play and learn. Therefore, it's time to gather everything we have learnt and prepare for the year ahead. A few interesting things amongst all the things acquired is the number of new life skills and wisdom people have gathered in the last year. People are now more concerned about Hygiene. Younger generations have learned about savings. People have learned many essential life skills like cooking, dishwashing, cleaning, washing and more. Many have invested their time in acquiring new professional skillsets. That's the brighter side, but on the hind side, people are sleeping a lot less spending more time juggling between home and work activities. Professional time zones have extended. Both school kids and grown-ups are now spending far more time staring at the computer screen than ever. There has been a steep rise in domestic violence, and millions of people feel they are living in prison. Many have been left jobless, and many businesses are out of funds.
The initial phase of fear and panic is no longer prevalent across all societies. Although many restrictions are here to continue, people by and large have somehow managed to adapt to the new way of life. When we look at how marketing has been affected by this, we see some remarkable changes in the receptiveness of the audience, and I am going to capture those here in this article.
The Angry Audience
Pandemic has definitely made people's life more stressful forcing people need to vent their frustration, and in recent times many brands have been their target. Be it the Tanishq ad campaign, the Harpic commercial, and many more, consumers are expressing their strong sentiments on Twitter. In fact, people even complained about how brands can piggyback on a festival for promoting their goods. At the same time, Cadbury's new campaign drawing attention towards the local business has been highly appreciated. I presume that people want their brands to be more authentic and real and do real good for society as against preaching the audience.
The Digital Overload
With most of the other marketing mediums becoming less relevant, every brand (B2B & B2C) (Small & Big) has expedited its efforts on digital branding and visibility. Today we have far too much clutter in the digital space. Brands have quickly learned new ways to do things on digital platforms. As the physical event took a hit, the virtual or digital events have skyrocketed, and many brands have adapted to this new format of engagement. In almost every industry, there is a steep rise in the video content, which has been created just by using a mobile phone. This trend is likely to continue further from here and likely to get bigger. Digital marketing efforts are not only limited to generating leads but also about a superb customer experience in the always-on digital world. Brands have put in efforts to overcome new challenges like, how support can be extended to customers who are currently working from home and require clarity on solutions as in-person sales meeting is no longer allowed? How to be available to the customer beyond the standard operational hours as the customer is up late?
Marketers are wearing multiple hats
As sales meetings go digital, with virtually no in-person meeting, marketing had to step up their game to facilitate sales conversation, do customer services, deliver customer experience, manage partner relationships, learn to operate digital events, rework on their websites to help the customer find what they need and interested, and launch new brands, product lines, and much more. The best part is that everything was done digitally, while the team was working from different locations and time zones. In the last few months, the focus has been about how to support the business. It is not the quantity but the quality of the marketing effort that has been making the real difference.
Do it in-house
Agencies around the world lost many of their accounts, many retainer contracts were cancelled during the last few months, and the mantra has been - DIY. Many marketers found themselves without the support of their agencies forcing them to write, design, and publish their marketing materials on their own besides managing their regular work. At the same time, freelancers, especially in the digital and video development work found themselves fairly occupied with multiple freelance projects from smaller brands. The multinational brands, however, have backed their strategic agency partners and have accelerated their marketing efforts. The 'Do It In-house' logic is here to stay until the economic conditions improve, but I always believe that a business should focus on their core activities and let an agency to focus on theirs.
Technology adoption is a bigger challenge
Like any other profession, marketing also has undergone rapid digital transformation. Today, we have enough marketing technologies, but its adoption is a greater challenge. Although many marketers have acquired skillsets for multiple marketing application, its adoption overall is still limited due to its costs and lack of training and support. This creates a new problem for an organisation which has recently updated to a new technology platform as its productivity will drop dramatically. As a marketer for technology companies, a greater focus on training and customer support is required to drive this adoption.
To sum it up in five points:
- The pandemic has made consumers more agitated and angry, so unless the brand's effort is truly authentic and deep-rooted to their purpose, it will have repercussions across digital platforms.
- Digital is a buzzword; therefore, every business has to contemplate the continuity and operational effectiveness carefully. Brands that have worked upon redefining their customer user journey across the various digital platforms have been rewarded. The spotlight is on customer support and services using digital technology.
- There has been a massive dent in marketing confidence. At a human level, it is a draining and stressful experience for marketers, learning too many things and wearing multiple hats in such short notice is not easy. We know that fear and stress are not good for productivity.
- Doing it in-house is cost-saving, but it is also a risk. Traditionally, an agency saves the learning of a brand over many years, removing the agency also removes the essential learning which an agency has acquired over the years.
- A greater focus for marketing will be on training and development, especially for the B2B organisations. Educating and supporting a customer through the digital curve is as important as developing new technologies.