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Power Essays 2020: The way forward to the next normal, by Fusion 5’s Avni Ved

by Avni Ved, Media Manager, Fusion 5.

We have always heard, “it’s a fast-moving world”, but now it seems as though the luxury of time has completely disappeared. There’s no denying the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has altered our lives, our mindsets, our routines, and might have altered our behaviour for many more years to come.

Businesses that used to map their overall strategy for months to a year maximum are now racing against time to plan and execute new initiatives within a few days or weeks.

The hastening of this process has been evident across all sectors. Be it healthcare providers moving into telemedicine, restaurants being propelled to offer contactless deliveries, supermarket giants acquainting their client base with online ordering or educational institutions pivoting towards e-learning, the list is endless and has been a thorough learning process for one and all.

Every crisis plays out over three timeframes: Respond, Recover and Thrive. We currently are in the middle of the Recover-Thrive loop. While all organisations and brands are striving to recover (to learn and emerge stronger), thrive is where we will prepare and shape-up for the ‘next normal’.

Operating in the advertising and marketing industries these days has become a tough affair owing to the constant uncertainties and vulnerabilities within the market, ranging through behaviour of the consumer, the client’s business model, economic fluctuations, and so on. Most importantly, our ways of working had been totally disrupted. Today, we stand at a truly unique position.

As agencies, it has become imperative to rethink how to operate and service clients in order to avoid sliding downhill in the year to come. A new modus operandi for the ‘next normal’ is the necessity of the hour, and this re-modelling should be done following a few key mandates as the baseline.

FOLLOW THE CUSTOMER TRAIL

As the world joins forces to contain the current Covid crisis, all businesses are concerned only with consumer optimism. Two foundations of customer loyalty are trust and confidence, and by putting your brand’s customer interests first, this can be the time for your brand to lead.

The new digital consumer is constantly connected, app-native and ever- demanding. Agencies must be able to enable their brands to be perspicacious and light-footed to be able to scale, innovate and stay engaged with their customers. Needs as well as the means to achieve those needs have evolved and are changing rapidly; a deep-rooted understanding of the consumer journey, identifying content that resonates with modelling capabilities, better data interoperability and greater availability of tools and computing infrastructure are closing the chasm between the physical and digital worlds. Using data as a pathway to the consumer’s mindset as well as to access the brand-related conversations will be the enabler to a successful marketing campaign. Jump on the bandwagon, if you haven’t already.

BE PROACTIVE, RATHER THAN REACTIVE

There is no better time to be proactive, and to put that into real action, than now. Only considering the media consumption of a specific target group or consolidating a 360-degree mix for your brand are old-age phenomena now. It’s imperative to wear the ‘Client Hat’ to find unique growth opportunities for your client’s business and constantly keep identifying how you can employ innovative media solutions to tackle these opportunities and win within the marketplace. As an agency, we need to be a one-stop shop for our clients’ dilemmas, be they business growth, boosting sales figures or decoding a market-entry problem. Being proactive will enable one to retain that client’s business to thrive in the upcoming times. We must ensure we constantly monitor the fluctuations within the market space, be it consumer behaviour, competitive activity or market regulations. With that research-oriented mindset, coupled with creative leadership and agile innovative solutions, you surely will add value to your clients’ business, making them always come back to you for more.

That we fail to adapt until the need is critical is as old as humanity. But now that need is upon us, and it is providing the strongest incentive possible to change our brand strategies, our risk perceptions and our fundamental ways of working. Covid-19 has provided an unprecedented learning opportunity, and it might be a fleeting one. Don’t let businesses tell you what they need. Take up the mantle, get ahead of this rapidly shifting landscape and tell them what they will need to be better equipped for the post-crisis recovery and the next crisis (God forbid there never is one).

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