Louisa Kraitzick, Senior Partner

‘Constant change’, ‘unprecedented times’ and other jargon

How comms and marketing needs to respond to the change to alert level three.

Even though it’s true, I’m sick of reading articles about how we live in unprecedented times. We all know it. For the last six weeks, change has been the only constant for all of Pead’s clients. They, like the best of New Zealand’s businesses, are adapting at pace.  

Whether it’s next week or beyond, we now know alert level three will focus on enabling safe economic activity to get up and running again. It means we will have more freedom, but ultimately the same distance.

As a result, Kiwis’ expectations of how companies should operate and consumer behaviour will change all over again. 

Protect Your Reputation

Expect the public, customers, stakeholders and even potentially government to want answers about how you are operating during alert level three. Expect to be asked about still working from home, how you are social distancing your staff or what contact tracing mechanisms you have in place.

Transparency will be key. Make sure you document information in your reactive comms plan so it’s easy to give to targets. If you don’t have a reactive comms plan, get one. You will need it in alert levels one and two as well.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if executive remuneration comes under the microscope again for our corporate clients. Businesses leaders paved the way for her, but the Prime Minister’s 20% pay cut sets the tone for the whole country. So make sure your actions pass the ‘front of the newspaper’ test.

Rethink Your Targeting

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your sales funnel will behave like it did before COVID-19.

This pandemic will fundamentally shift core customer behaviour and your usual target audience demographics may need to change, or be deepened, as a result.

It might be less about targeting over 55s that skew female and more about targeting the “impacted optimistic” - the people who are optimistic about their long-term future, but less confident about maintaining their standard of living in the short term.

Whatever your target demographics, now's the time to review these, and assess whether there are new audiences we should be targeting.

Build Your Brand

Irrespective of your category and your targets, the competition will be fierce to get people to spend with you.

Price promotion will play a strong part in many categories. But we must win hearts and minds to give people compelling reasons to spend their money with you.

For most, ‘battening-down the hatches’ will be counter-productive. We only have to look back at the GFC to understand the impact of this behaviour.

Harvard Business School and the Kellogg School of Management examined the performance of almost 5,000 companies before, during and after the 2008 recession. I implore you to read their article as it’s full of gems. But I will highlight one of my main outtakes:

Only 9% of researched businesses managed to deliver growth within two years of the recession. What set them apart? They did not exercise deep cost-cutting. Instead, they implemented both defensive and offensive strategies to keep existing customers and identify new ones.

The way your customers behave will change as a result of this pandemic. But they still won’t be purely rational beings. Throughout this period, we need to ensure we don’t cut all the activity that’s built brand love in the past. Instead, we need to adapt it to this new world order.

Percentage of researched businesses managed to deliver growth within two years of the recession.


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