IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Forging a New Path on the Road to Recovery

Sithembile Ntombela

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the economic shutdowns resulted in a severe blow to people, organisations and brands alike. Undoubtedly, this impacted the spending power and freedom consumers once had. The uncertain futures require us to begin the process of sense-making and learning to paddle with what we have.

 

Focus on the brand vision and brand promise

No matter what the storm is, marketers must remain steadfast on the brand promise and vision. Often, during trying times brand managers and marketers go into a panic mode and start to fiddle with brand propositions, positioning and even brand essence when it this is not necessarily the solution. As we move to recovery in many parts of the world, aligning your brand to the circumstances presented by the pandemic is crucial. Find ways for your brand or organisation to be purposeful and see how to respond to the aftermath of the pandemic in a way that is relevant and yet consistent to the brand proposition.

Be resolute and opt to introduce new mechanisms and tools that are aligned with the brand vision and positioning whilst remaining relevant and responsive to the challenges.

 

Trust your brand even if it doesn’t make sense

It takes a long time to build strong, sustainable brands and panic shouldn’t be in the vocabulary of strong brands however changing the game plan or strategy is the safest approach.

Trust your brand to see you through the tough times. Bring added value into the equation, be reliable and consistent that way customers will find many reasons to continue buying your brand. No pandemic formed against you shall prosper when you get these “brand trust” basics right.

Remember without trust and faith in your brand, it is impossible to see greatness and the future.

 

See the supernatural in all situations

Ever heard of a saying that tough times give birth to new solutions? When the going gets tough, the tough gets going? This is the attitude to keep in mind, even after the pandemic passes. The work is only getting started.

The mind can overcome any challenge and this is true when one considers the fact that there is also a mindset that is able to invent new solutions during a storm and mindset that can invent new solutions in the era of the new norm.

The truth of the matter is that things are not the same, more people are working remotely, consumer spending continues to drop, consumers look for solutions and quality at reasonable prices. It’s inevitable that change in behaviour will definitely have an impact on how consumers use certain products and services. There is certainly a new way of doing things which means there is in an opportunity for supernatural innovation that delivers on the brand promise whilst addressing or seeking to fulfil the changing needs.

The big question is: what solutions, what innovation? will marketers and CMO’s bring forth in line with this new norm?

 

Surround yourself with consumers, customers and stakeholders committed to the same goal/vision

In life when you want to win, you surround yourself with successful people, visionaries. Similarly, marketers ought to learn from each other. The days of trying to be a loner because of fear of information sharing or information loss are over. Marketers must champion thought provoking conversations that seek to provide consumer and customer focused solutions. In fact, I believe best marketers are born from having honest and thought provoking dialogue instead of independently trying to make sense of research

Be a champion of your customers, know and understand their brand/business value propositions, start now.

The pandemic has taught us a lesson that we are all equal before Mother Nature and we primarily depend on each other for survival and growth. This reinforces the belief that we(as marketers and CMO’s) need to rise above all man-made differences, prejudices, and barriers and come up with solutions for the world.

 

Keep putting one step in front of the other consistently to make progress.

Keep walking, one step at time. Reflect, review and re-adjust will be a new way of doing things for at least 5 years to come. Not only is it the battle of commercial brands, it is the battle of economies. The World Bank estimates that it may take years for economies to recover provided policy makers move decisively to tame the pandemic and implement investment-enhancing reforms. It will be through these investment enhancing reforms and policies that potential will be realised.

CMO’s now more than ever must adopt a bigger picture thinking and not be obsessed about category dynamics their brands operate in. Marketers have to be agile and have a thorough understanding of what the consumers, customers need, how to respond to crisis and be able to think a step ahead to unpack new solutions that goes beyond a sale transaction.

A curious mind is the one that constantly seek solutions and is always a step ahead to unforeseen challenges such as global warming and climate change.

Since consistent, faithful steps ultimately lead to victory, eventually every step you take will result in something worthwhile for your brand and organisation respectively.

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