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Adapting your marketing comms in a crisis

To say that the last two weeks of March were a blur is an understatement.


Not only did I have to change my mindset from ‘what’s all this fuss about a virus’ I quickly had to throw my marketing plan out the window, deal with working from home and becoming a teacher to my two children. Not quite the end to the quarter I was expecting – as was the case for us all across the Globe.

When working in marketing you often have to be ‘agile’ – a phrase we have used a lot recently – and adapt to changing business needs. March into April and May was like agility at super-speed. We had to completely change everything we were used to doing and constantly adapt our plans and approach. I am sure we have all seen businesses that have done this well, others not so well and some who have done nothing at all. Whilst there will be opinions on right and wrong approaches, it is likely that everyone has acted with the best intentions.

I am lucky enough to work for a company that was able to keep their people in work. We did have some temporary part-time working arrangements, which largely helped me as for four hours of the day I was a primary school teacher trying to remember how to calculate fractions without a calculator and spell words without auto-correct. It also meant that during my working hours it was like running on a treadmill at the fastest speed possible.

Sitting back and reflecting on the past three months, I have a few take-aways that will last me a lifetime that I thought I would share…

  • Be prepared to de-rail your marketing plan.
    Don’t be scared to completely change course of action if the situation requires it. Almost immediately we stopped all pre-existing marketing and constantly questioned if we were doing the right thing for our customers. Whilst it was hard to focus when building a plan while on the go, it is a learning that will stay with me forever – don’t just continue doing something because that is what you planned.</span
  • Question everything!
    Shall we send our newsletter, shall we tell people how great video is for remote communication, do we look like we are taking advantage of the situation – just some of the questions I asked myself throughout the lockdown period. Sometimes we can get complacent with the work we are doing, especially when you have worked somewhere for a while. Sitting back and questioning things presents the opportunity to ensure you are as on-point as possible.</span
  • Think about tone of voice.
    This is another area we spent a lot of time trying to get right. Let’s face it, the situation as a whole was tough, however we wanted to inject as much positivity and be forward-looking as much as possible, rather than the doom and gloom of the situation. Yes it meant a fair amount of re-works of content, social posts, subject lines etc. but it was worth it to have the right approach.
  • Keep talking.
    For those who know me, it is something I do a lot of at the best of times. However by this I mean keep talking with your team, your peers and friends. I have to say our marketing team has talked more than ever before in the last three months, even though we are no longer physically located together in an office. Has it helped build the team dynamics? I hope so, otherwise I have been doing something wrong.
  • Track results and analyse.
    Goes without saying but worth a reminder.
  • Think about long term partnerships with agencies.
    We are no different to a lot of businesses, with lockdown and not charging our customers came a big cost-saving drive across the business. We cut back on everything we could, but kept a couple of key agencies on board. Without them we would not have been as effective and it was a pleasure to reinstate standard terms of business in June and know we have built some solid, long term partnerships in the process.

I know everyone will have their own lockdown memories and lessons they will keep with them forever. This being my first foray into blogging I hope you will find some gems of wisdom, and if not some notes of recognition.