Opinion: A month of unprecedented change – average is over, visibility is key. Be seen and be heard.

We hope you and your families are well. It has been 4 weeks since we started working from home under lockdown and I think most businesses will agree it’s been a challenging and tough, if not different, month. The way we live and work has changed significantly during this unprecedented situation, and we’ve all had to adapt quickly, not by choice – responding to closures and changes to business. This was not the 2020 strategy.

Anyhow, we are where we are; COVID-19 is a pandemic of grand scale and we have a unified goal to beat this virus, save lives and return to normality as soon as possible. Health is the ultimate wealth – we have become grateful and appreciate more than ever what really matters. As a community we have come closer together, albeit further apart. We’ve even started to bang saucepans on a Thursday evening as a sign of huge appreciation to our wonderful keyworkers.

It goes without saying that we have seen a rapid change in working practices with many business premises closing and where possible businesses continuing to operate from home. The digital revolution has been forced upon many who would never have dreamt of a Zoom call but have happily embraced it. The way we have adapted to change will change the way we work forever.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has hit all businesses hard and on the marketing frontline, it’s no different. Marketing’s biggest agencies have yet to feel the full impact of the Coronavirus downturn but have warned of tough times ahead with big budgets being slashed. Due to the large overheads, fixed outgoings and perhaps the inability to adapt quickly, one recent report suggests 85% of creative agencies have indicated they will run out of money by June. The model cannot withstand the downward pressures that SMEs and indeed larger businesses face, yet the good times will return.

The Government support packages will help certain qualifying businesses in the short-term but ultimately how we act during this period will determine how our businesses are shaped in the future. This is not a time to sell – it’s a time to excel and we want to help you the best we can.

Our top tips on maintaining a brand presence during COVID-19

There are a lot of positive things you can do to keep your brand visible and relevant online through this unprecedented and difficult time. Even if your business has had to temporarily close, don’t let your customers forget you.

Yes you may have understandably slashed your advertising budget, with high street footfall down 84% – but there has arguably never been a more important time for your brand to seen, and indeed shine. Uncertainty and isolation makes it more important than ever for your brand to be seen, heard and to listen. Don’t neglect the important day to day objectives of brand awareness, insightful communication, engagement and ongoing client loyalty building. Increase your online presence now so that when normality resumes, your brand is stronger than ever.

Your digital presence is your shopfront… for now! On screen, on mobile, on message.

With people confined to their homes, reports show that social media activity has increased by 50%! Your brand is just another scroll away and social media platforms have become a part of every day life for all ages. Focus on growing your audience by mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and dare I say good old fashioned email. It’s important to remember every business has a story but above all be relevant to your audience, developing clear communication channels.

Time critical communications

Tomorrow is too late! This is a ‘whatever it takes’ moment in time and speed of delivery right now is key. The speed of an ever-changing pandemic like this has meant we have worked on so many urgent communications for clients in the past month, that in truth, were out of date within days of sending – but equally were very important on the day. As an independent flexible business we are able to move quickly and adapt to client needs – dropping tasks there and then to assist.

Reputation is key

Do the right thing – now. This isn’t an opportunity to sell – it’s an opportunity to excel. The insurance industry for one has been widely criticised for business interruption claims being declined. Large brands who have requested Government bailouts face reputational damage. Multi-millionaires have furloughed their workforce. Right or wrong, people will form an opinion. On a smaller localised scale our recommendation would be to look at how your business is perceived from the customers point of view and think about how you can best support them through this unprecedented period – which let’s be honest, none of us have ever experienced. A proactive approach gives you a chance to shine. How can you be proactive to help them now which may be fruitful in the future?

Be prepared for when this is all over

We are working with many clients, not only on their ongoing communications but also the months ahead for when people are allowed to venture out again. Our view is that planning ahead now could put clients in a much better prepared position in the medium term, whether that be a change to promotional channels or an increase in content creation.

Now is perhaps a time like no other for businesses to look at what they can offer online. Take Primark as an example. They have been hit on a large scale from a lack of online presence with monthly sales going from £650m to £0. Fortunately in the UK they have been able to furloughed their staff, but that’s not the case globally.

These times are unusual, but we’re doing everything we can to make it feel ‘business as usual’

Amongst all the great unknowns I really believe now is a chance for entrepreneurial businesses to shine. It is timely to remind ourselves, Brand Brown was born as an idea as far back as the financial crash in 2007 where we noticed a lot of small to medium sized businesses didn’t need full time marketing staff as well as agencies for design and web site management. Our strategy today is no different – a proven support model working as part of your team.

We are here for all our clients, fully committed to supporting their communications strategy 7 days a week. The marketing businesses that make it through this will be the ones that adapt quickly, compromise and adjust to the needs of their clients – not themselves. Even if you are not a Brand Brown client and would like advice on how to best communicate and market your business during this time please feel free to get in touch.

We may be working remotely – but rest assured, we will continue to do our very best to help you through this challenging time. Our experienced team are here to support your business communications, creative and design requirements, when you need it most.

Thank you for your continued support, and we wish you the best of health.

Robert Brown is founder of Brand Brown Ltd – an independent marketing agency based in Mayfair, London. (Currently South West London working from home until further notice, but very much open for business!)
Brand Brown Ltd. 020 3675 2424
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