Be prepared


I know. No-one could be fully prepared for what hit us this year, but 2020 highlighted the need to consider the many factors that should make us rethink our marketing.

I, mostly unsuccessfully, try to avoid jargon and buzzwords but ‘pivot’ has re-entered the vernacular this year with a hard-hitting wallop. Lots of us have had to try a new direction in our businesses. For many of us, only a little, but some have needed to make significant changes.

In some cases, a change to the environment in which our business operates means we need to look at different channels to reach new audiences.

We can be certain that 2020 has seen businesses embrace digital marketing even more rapidly than in recent years. The inability to connect face-to-face, even if only for a comparatively short time here in New Zealand, forced businesses to reassess how they could connect in other ways.

But it’s worth reminding ourselves that a global pandemic isn’t the only event that can rock our boats.

There are countless changes happening around us all the time that we need to be able to adapt our marketing efforts to face.

The challenges of new competition, or a competitor introducing a tantalising new product or service, can push us to tell our own story in a different way or to highlight a previously under-told message.

The Waikato is apparently becoming an increasingly popular home for New Zealand businesses, and expat Kiwis are returning home and setting up here too. So, making sure that we stand out and can be clear about our offer in this ever more competitive environment could be something for which we all need to be prepared.

Faced by any need to change tack, we can be reviewing the range of media options that are genuinely feasible for the people we want to reach.

If a decent proportion of your audience are high consumers of social media, stay on social media. If your audience is stuck in the daily commute, perhaps bus backs and billboards are still a viable option too. And equally, if you know that many of your audience enjoys their local community newspaper or specialist publication, use those vehicles to tell your story.

If you’re struggling to stand out amongst the crowd in one place, maybe it’s time to consider where else your audience might be able to see you more clearly.

Fractures in supply chains have seen many businesses need to reconsider their product range or manage expectations about speed of delivery. These problems aren’t unique to a pandemic and can happen, albeit on a more localised scale, any time. But 2020 will hopefully have taught us to be prepared for these changes, including how our marketing and communications can keep customers happy when we can’t serve them as we’d like.

Sadly, many businesses have reduced income, as consumers cautiously tighten their belts.

Although, in theory, a time when you need more customers should really mean you reach out to potential customers more, the harsh reality is that some have had to cut marketing budgets.

But, as the world has seen many times before, it’s not just pandemics that force financial downturns that mean we have to make our money go further. Particularly in small businesses (and that’s a lot of us, right?) we regularly face bumps along the road that make us adjust our marketing spending, even if only for a short period.

There are times we have to be prepared to step back and rewrite whatever old rule book we followed and, if we’re up for it, be braver and think creatively.

It might be as simple as switching from talking about ourselves to telling our story through our clients’ eyes. Or it might be change in the tone of voice we use, or a striking new look.

When you need help to get out of a hole, you might only need to put your hand up to get someone’s attention. But if you’re in a crowd or the hole is deep, be prepared to wave both arms, shout or sing, otherwise you’re simply waiting for the crowd to clear in the hope someone will find you. Whatever the medium, changes in our marketing hinge on the power of the big idea, the clarity of the message and the way that our stories are told.

As our world changes around us, it emphasises that we can’t necessarily do things as we always have done them. And in some cases, it might purely mean we do the same, but need to be prepared to do it differently.


About Author

Vicki Jones

Vicki Jones is director of Dugmore Jones, Hamilton-based marketing management consultancy. Email vicki@dugmorejones.co.nz