Times They Are A-Changin’

I can quite confidently tell you that before the beginning of 2020, “unprecedented” was not a word I would have considered, let alone relied on in conversational situations. Yet here I am, repeatedly standing in the well-spaced supermarket entry queues throwing it around like it was the newest, semi-shouted version of The Weather Chat. From small talk to work, we all rely on a safe and common language. Weather. Sport. Unprecedented. Which got me thinking. Before the March 23 lockdown pushed pause on the economy, the world was buying and selling in recognisable, expected ways. We had our common language: Buy, Sell, Improve. Now though? Those familiar, reliable approaches have changed in order to prioritise more customer-centric messages over product- or service-centric comms. With the impact and implications of the lockdown likely being felt for months, we are at a point where the changes wrought over the past six weeks is likely to become ‘The New Norm’.

The New Norm

There has been a monumental shift in operations for those businesses able to continue running. In fact, the lockdown has been a digital coming of age for our industry with how we communicate internally and externally.  The types of social media messaging previously used to hard sell are, quite rightly in this environment, insensitive when the country’s priorities have moved so dramatically.

Aside from the tone, there has been an even more fundamental shift in how we utilise Social Media. Businesses have been forced to acknowledge and utilise social media in ways they weren’t before. It’s not there just as a White Noise generator. It’s not just another platform to replicate the standard to-print marketing approaches. It’s not something to use just because “we probably should be seen to”. Social Media Marketing requires a nuanced, empathetic approach that understands and takes into consideration UX and more than a small understanding of Nudge theory. We only have two or three seconds in which to get our message across in the images and text we choose so those messages must be concise, impactful, sophisticated and supportive.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Our customers are overwhelmed and oversaturated with digital information – how are you going to cut through? You can only do that by knowing your customer – what they want? what is stopping them from getting what they want? what they fear? – and then speak directly to those fears and desires whilst ensuring they feel like the centre of the narrative. These seem like simple questions and yet the answers to them give us the focus and clarity to communicate and market effectively. And now, more than ever, we need to make sure that we have asked these questions. The answers we had before lockdown will undoubtedly have changed and we need to know how they have changed because that means every message we had planned will need to change, too. These questions are part of the Brouha Brand Audit which can be implemented wherever you are, in whatever situation your business is in, and will provide the foundation to everything you choose to do moving forward in whatever the post-COVID landscape looks like.

I cannot see a situation where we go back to the way we were. Our comms, our offices (and I daresay the lower half of our office attire) have all changed in a potentially permanent way. That permanence isn’t necessarily a bad thing and although there are no tealeaves that give us the What Next answers with any precision, what we can do is objectively look at how we have adapted under pressure and apply that to whatever the post-lockdown, post-COVID world of Marketing looks like. What does your New Norm look like? Let Brouha help build your Brouha Brand Audit and we’ll find out together.