With brands retreating from planned marketing campaigns as financial belts have been tightened, or in many cases frozen completely, many feel that a ‘disconnection with customers’ has proven to be the primary obstacle to business recovery.
Crowd, a global creative and performance media agency ,and FSM Brand Communications, an independent communications agency, have launched the #StopDistancingYourself campaign, helping brands reconnect with their customers after the last six months of marketing inactivity. Crowd and FSM interviewed clients across the Middle East, Europe and North America about the current pressures and concerns impacting their businesses and how these can be addressed.
The market research revealed how the pandemic has affected business behaviour, impacted marketing capacity and helped define how owners and managers are approaching their route back to business recovery.
Jamie Sergeant, Global CEO, Crowd said, “The impact of COVID-19 is far wider reaching than simply curtailing day to day business activity and cash flow. A deeper and, arguably, greater longer-term impact will be the breaking of a brand’s connection with its customers. Losing contact with your customers risks losing them to a competitor.
“We’ve seen our clients across the spectrum being hit hard by the pandemic. Everyone has had to make some tough decisions in their businesses to protect their employees, manage working from home and, of course, to make sure that they are in a position to re-engage with their customers. But there have also been some who have gone on the front foot and found a new way forward and grown their business. We hope through these insights and by providing this free support we can help the business community move forward with confidence.”
According to FSM and Crowd’s sector research, over two-thirds of C-Suite and Senior Marketing executives reported that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their business with 40 per cent of those polled saying that “disconnection with customers” was a major concern six months into the global phase of the pandemic.
The #StopDistancingYourself campaign is designed to help brand owners restart their marketing activities via a free 30 minute, no obligation, consultation that reviews existing and/or paused digital and communications plans. Participants will be provided with a road map of effective immediate, and short term, recommendations designed to get sales moving once again.
While conducting the research, Crowd and FSM have already helped brands across key markets in repurposing marketing budgets and creating campaigns focused on their new reality.
In the United Arab Emirates, with over a third of total client responders identifying social isolation as a key challenge during lockdown, mental health has been a key focus area. Using the social isolation themes from the research, Crowd recently delivered a new solution for mental healthcare provider Reset Wellbeing – a company with a mission to improve the approach to mental wellbeing. With the UAE being one of the earliest nations to move into lockdown, it was critical that Crowd helped drive Reset Wellbeing’s mission is to change the approach to mental health in the UAE by offering instant access to support through a new online tool developed by Crowd.
Not all business went into total remission and for some, a creative and strategic approach to reshaped comms was required. Nearly 1 in 5 reported a positive or somewhat positive impact on their business and we’ve helped leverage that opportunity to help brands remain connected to their customers.
In the UK, ExtraAF launched as a new sustainable fashion brand, with a mission to provide ethically sourced and produced clothing without compromising on style or current fashion trends. Initially, the campaign was heavily reliant on Influencer Marketing activities but with reshaped strategic direction, Crowd says it was able to help the brand recruit influencers to model and shoot the collection at home.
With almost 45 per cent of respondents citing employee anxiety as the biggest challenge, for Dorset Mind, Crowd developed a digital mindfulness destination which aims to alleviate some of the mental health issues associated with extended periods of lockdown. Crowd also recently rolled out a digital transformation campaign for Showa Group the global manufacturer of PPE gloves, moving their trade-show-led sales through to a digital first solution. By embracing the transformation to an online-led sales strategy, this helped to keep their PPE getting to market.