How can agencies emerge more strongly out of the ongoing Covid-19 chaos?
The pandemic is forcing brands to relook into business strategies and pushing them to go digital and procure services of freelancers. On the other hand, it’s also reducing their marketing budgets due to uncertain market conditions.
Amidst the growing economic turmoil, with major events being canceled, ad spends being slashed, the question arises… Where do agencies stand and are we all out of options?
To answer this let us go back to our childhood where we have all grown up internalizing‘ life is how you see it’ aka the glass half full and empty theorem.
While I agree at present, in this chaos, most of us are struggling to visualize the glass half full. Yet, it is not the time to give up, there is a silver lining.
As rightly said by someone, chaos is not a pit it’s a ladder. A ladder to climb and discover new opportunities, new ways of thinking, and working beyond our comfort zone. Since we are already accustomed to being on our toes, we are bound to thrive in this scenario.
It is time to evolve and show some incredible creativity. Time to shift strategies, change product lines & services, and overall business operations, in order to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is an assembled list of things that you can do right now to counter the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and sustain business growth.
1. Save the Client to Save the Business: Both agencies and brands are on the same team fighting against the common enemy: time and unknown variables. Hence work like a team with your client. It isn’t just surviving as agencies and keeping jobs, it’s about helping the clients survive as well. With brands scaling back their marketing spends and efforts due to the fear of uncertainty, it is important for agencies to explain why quarantining your marketing efforts in times like these is not the right strategy. With some ingenuity and the right strategy, your brand can come out stronger than ever. Brainstorm with your clients and explore alternate options for campaigns, budgets, and suggest how they should adjust their messaging. Consolidate and restrict their spending to activities that yield maximum ROI with minimum budget.
2. Be Flexible and Understanding: There is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over all of us. Accept the fact that you will have last minutes changes, budget cuts, launch cancellations, delays in decisions and payments, etc. Keep your communication lines open and be more fluid in your approach.
3. Don’t Be a Fearmonger: This global pandemic is scary and stressful for everyone. It calls for everyone to be supportive and be there for one another instead of taking advantage of the situation. Delay your plans and discussions on increasing your retainer/project/campaign fee. It may be tempting to increase the price and earn a quick buck but be wary, in the long term, clients will hold a grudge against you. Proactively discuss this with your client so that they are relieved.
4. Expand Your Service Offerings and Explore Different Service Avenues: When in Rome do as the Romans do. Adapt quickly to the changing times. The new normal requires new strategies to survive. While hard selling is something that nobody is considering at present, you can consolidate different strategies and create a campaign that amplifies brand reach and increases goodwill. Here are a few quick strategies that will benefit you during these times.
a) WhatsApp Marketing: Currently, WhatsApp user base is estimated to be around 250-300 million people in India. Making it the undisputed messenger-marketing leader. With an exponential rise in mobile content consumption, WhatsApp marketing can be a big gamechanger for brands.
b) Video Marketing: Video marketing must be a crucial part of your outreach and campaign efforts, especially your social strategy. A video with the right message and platform can bring huge traction to your brand. It is not always about how much you spend on making a video. More importantly, it is about choosing the right content and platform for it. If you are not investing in building video marketing strategies you definitely need some catching up to do.
c) Invest in AI and Data Analytics: Brands have limited budgets at present. Hence it is important to utilize that budget in targeting the right TG instead of going all out. Invest in data analytics and AI to make targeting more precise and accurate so that it yields greater results.
d) Expand Your Geographies: The current situation has pushed many offline businesses online. Hence there is an upsurge in requests for going digital from businesses across categories. More so from non-metros which were earlier reluctant to move online. It is a good idea to expand your horizons and look out for opportunities in different markets.
5. Communicate Proactively: In these times, your clients will appreciate it, if you proactively keep them updated about the latest trends, what competition is up to and how they can re-think their marketing strategies to stay on course.
6. Invest in Your Own Brand and Marketing: Nobody knows better than us (agencies) the value of branding and marketing. While we give our blood and sweat to promote brands and strengthen their value in the market, it is important we invest in building our own brand. It may not yield immediate benefits but your continued efforts to create valuable content now will help you in the longer term.
7. Support Your Employees: Employees are your biggest assets, never take them for granted. Clients will come and go but your team will always be there for you. There is an uncertainty that is looming over us and the constant news of businesses shutting down has led to increased anxiety levels among people. Hence it is important to be patient and empathetic during this time. Help and support your employees, through this difficult time. They will always appreciate and remember your support.
8. Invest in Building Relationships: Relationships are the foundation of everything, be it your clients, employees, influencers, or anyone you work for. Invest in building stronger relationships with them by working together, sharing advice, lending a helping hand and supporting them.
We are not certain when things will become normal and what lies on the other side of this chaos, but we can definitely redesign our strategies and work actively with our clients to sail through this smoothly. We are all in the same boat, the idea is to work together in pursuit of success even if it is in small amounts and means letting go of immediate gains.