Authored by: Stephné du Toit, Content Manager at At that Point
By now, we have all settled into our makeshift offices at home. We have become experts at distance communication with the help of Zoom, Teams and Skype meetings, among others. We had to “adapt or die” as they say.
To adapt and not die in this new normal, we need to change our approach to marketing and communications. This means that we need to adjust our resources, communication plans and our budget over the short- and long term. Our customers’ behaviours have changed dramatically as in-person meetings, events and workshops had to be revised and replaced with other channels to reach our potential customers.
For the companies that have made the leap before COVID-19 to digital environments and leaving traditional communication channels behind, riding through this pandemic storm was much easier than for others and minimised the disruption throughout their businesses. However, many companies, services and even sections in the entertainment industry that were not prepared for the shift, sadly did not make it past this pandemic.
If you are still willing to adapt and swing this boat around to higher ground, we can recommend a few strategies to consider when you are adjusting your communications and marketing plan:
With smartphones in almost every customer’s hands these days, your target audience can be reached by a click of a button, or rather by pressing play on a video.
Videos can be shared across multiple platforms, are easy to grasp and visually entertaining. Start off simple, use existing clips from your webinars or past event presentations and share them with your customers. Not only do you create awareness of your brand but, you also educate and provide trusted content to your audience.
There are various free video editing tools online to transform a modest five minute interview into a cost effective visual communication tool.
2. Webinars and Virtual Events
Even schools and Universities are now almost 100% dependent on webinars and virtual classrooms. So why should your company stay behind? This communication channel can never replace face-to-face interactions, but the recent boom in virtual platforms have created many opportunities to engage with other delegates - all in the safety of your home office.
3. Social Media
Communicating through social media platforms gives you the opportunity to engage with your target audience in more than one way.
4. Content Marketing
In an article titled “How To Positively Communicate With Your Audience Amidst A Pandemic”, Jagruti Bhargav, asked various marketers what content they create and post to their target market. The unanimous answer was content that is positive, hopeful, and helpful.
This is a good read as to learn how messages should be structured and filled with empathy, because we are in this together, helping each other - survive, grow and shine.
5. Lead Fostering
Stay in contact with your potential customers, especially during this period of economic adversity. Respect the threats to their lives and livelihoods that have altered their priorities and preferences.
This can be achieved by sharing thought leader content and other valuable information through previously paid for webinars and downloadable content.
Assure your potential consumers that your company’s values will remain unchanged, by clearly unpacking your values propositions.
For a further read on how other companies have adjusted their communication and marketing strategies and get inspiration to help your company adapt, rather than die, I recommend reading How business adapted - COVID-19 case studies by Derek du Preez.
Authored by; Rosa-Mari Le Roux, Content Manager at At that Point
They say, “If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” However, with an effective communication and marketing strategy in place, nothing would be left until the last minute.
Your strategy should serve as a road map for your business to effectively communicate a tailored message via the right channels to reach your desired audience.
My article will feature important elements to keep in mind when creating a marketing and communication strategy for your business.
What is the point of doing business if you don’t have a clear idea of who your customers are and what they want?
Consumer insights are crucial for creating a targeted message and this valuable information can be gathered through surveys, questionnaires or interviews.
Get to know your audience’s characteristics and familiarise yourself with what they read, listen to and watch. This will help you formulate your communication plan and customise your products so that it caters specifically to their desires, which should lead to better sales and happy customers.
Don’t beat around the bush
It is crucial to define your message, ensure that it is clear, consistent and recognisable. Keep these key points in mind when formulating your message:
- Brand Identity: Your customers should be familiar with your brand identity, which must be noticeable in all marketing material and platforms. Your reader should always know it is your message.
- Consistency is key: All communication and messaging should be consistent. Your company message should be communicated throughout every department within the business.
- King of creativity: Be creative and unique with your ideas and messages. This will set you apart from the rest.
Choose the right channels
The easiest way to reach your existing audience, is to use channels where your consumers are already active, such as social media.
The message that you intend to communicate should be the driving force to determine which channels you use. For instance, using video content on social media platforms rather than emails.
Fortunately, there are many platforms that you can use to get in contact with your potential customer. If you know your audience, as suggested earlier, you will have a better idea on which channels you will have the most success in reaching customers.
Importantly, whatever marketing channel you choose should have the same brand perception as yours. Remember “consistency is key”
Keep your enemies close
Lastly, know who your competitors are and what they are up to. They are probably keeping an eye on you too. The harder it is for other to duplicate what sets you apart, the better. Keep your competitors in mind when creating your strategy. This will always keep you one step ahead.
To communicate without a strategy, is like walking in total darkness. You never know what might be lurking around the corner. Your strategy is your road map, your source of light, if you will.
Authored by: Idéle Prinsloo, Agency Lead, At That Point
Determining your business’ marketing and communications objectives for 2020 is central to any success you might achieve, however you run an extremely high risk of failing if your execution plan does not make provision for the important consumer and marketing trends predicted for the year ahead.
Rather than taking a “head-in-the-sand” approach, use these trends as your starting point to plan your products, services, campaigns etc. This enables you to devise an effective approach that actually “speaks to the people”. According to Trend Watching there are five main consumer trends that companies need to pay serious attention to in 2020, to ensure their relevance in an increasingly competitive environment.
Instead of feeling threatened, these should be regarded as promising business opportunities.
With the above in mind, set up your next internal brainstorming meeting and discuss how you can get onto the proverbial “wagon” to reap the benefits of being in sync with your customers.
Marketing Trends in 2020
To give your company a further advantage, supplement your customer trend-focussed communication and marketing approach by ensuring you consider the below marketing trends that Forbes has identified for 2020:
There are only so many hours in every day, and making time for marketing is usually on the bottom of the list for many SME owners. And when they do find time for marketing, or a lack of sales demands attention to marketing, many make the mistake of thinking that all marketing activities are expensive and can only be done by experts.
I have good news! The most difficult part about marketing truly is making time for it every single day. The rest is quite easy once you get started.
Once you've made a commitment to steadily growing your business through ongoing marketing activities, finding time will never be a problem again.
If you need help creating a marketing plan, or figuring out what this marketing thing actually is, let us know.
If they don't know what you have to sell, they won't know that they can buy. Realise the importance and value of marketing - the link between your products/services and you customers.
Read about marketing. The more you know, the easier it will get. Subscribe to marketing newsletters, follow marketing feeds on social media. You don't have to read (or do) everything, but it will be a regular reminder to make time for marketing.
Invest time and thought into an annual plan, and then just work the plan, rather than thinking from scratch everytime you remember to make time for marketing.
It is always quicker to work according to an existing plan, rather than having to figure out what to do every time you remember to do marketing.
Create monthly, weekly, and daily routines that are realistic and easy to stick to. Don't try to do too much at the start; give yourself time to get used to making time for marketing first.
Remember your marketing plan wherever you are. You can find content, stories, photo and video inspiration, recommendations and other wonderful content everywhere - you just need to remember to look, listen, and ask.
Think your marketing department won’t be affected by the launch of the Apple Watch earlier this week? Think again.
The impact of wearable technology will impact far more than just fashion and digital design trends. Even if the adoption rate isn’t as high as is predicted, the trend that will soon cause a flurry of frantic activity in marketing offices around the world is the impending change in information consumption.
Both studies based on formal research and those based on pure observation have proven that information consumption trends have changed significantly in a short period of time.
These days the most popular written pieces tend to be those divided by sub-headings, as it helps readers who have learned the skill of consuming short bytes of information at lightning speeds, to stick to longer form content. Even the decision on whether or not to read the full written piece is sometimes based on the value of information received from reading only the subheadings.
Long form content, although making a comeback this year, will always have a place, as people have an innate need to gather information. It is the format and length of lure that leads to informational long form pieces that has and will continue changing.
Major shakeups in the recent past for content creators (writers, marketers, PR professionals, journalists, videographers etc) include:
- Email, which required a less formal approach than handwritten letters and allowed for more visually striking communication
- SMS, which negated spelling and grammar to force sales messages into 160 characters
- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc which forced everyone to acknowledge the importance of social relationships in communication
- Twitter, which brought the # back to life, made @ buttons on devices wear out quicker than ever, and chopped messages length to a tidy 140 characters.
Wearable technology, whether it is a smart watch or smart set of eyewear, has brought about a new disruption. With tiny screens, room for only a single message, adapted scrolling functionality, wearable technology demands extreme brevity like no tool before it.
For content creators, who spend countless hours producing perfectly poised materials, the looming change in information consumption is a scary business. What many clients don’t realise is that it takes the same amount of time, if not longer, to create a piece of content that is suitable for the brevity demanded by developing mobile technologies, than a longer piece suitable for print or computer.
Content creators need to become skilled in formats suitable for the extreme brevity that is demanded by wearable tech, and will also have to educate their clients on the need for messages in a variety of formats.
- This article was published in the August/September 2014 edition of BusinessBrief -
Many businesses view marketing as a support function rather than part of core business activities. Although true in many instances, this view might jeopardise the success of marketing activities, especially where outsourced service providers play a key role.
As much as the focus of marketing activities shouldn’t be “just getting it done”, the focus of outsourcing the marketing function shouldn’t be to “make the problem go away”.
In general, outsourcing is intended to add either time of expertise to the current pool of resources. Outsourcing the entire marketing function however places the business at serious risk, as strategic marketing aligned with business objectives plays one of the biggest support roles to the sales function which in turn impacts directly on the bottom line.
Adopting a strategic view on outsourcing some parts of the marketing function will assist in determining whether it is necessary to supplement current marketing resource(s) with either additional hours or strategic input. Either of these however still requires ongoing commitment from both the client and its service provider in order to provide maximum value and sustainability.
Listen less closely
Stephen R. Covey famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” To make outsourced marketing work for any business, both the company and client should develop the skill to listen to what is being said as well as to what is perhaps not being said. Negative or incomplete feedback might sometimes be a more accurate indicator of the true status than continuous neutral or seemingly positive feedback.
Implementing lessons learned is imperative in the ongoing clarification of mutual expectations needed to shape marketing strategy and activities according to prevailing trends and shifting business needs.
The ideal client / provider relationship is one where mutual freedom and trust is promoted, and where the suggestion and consideration of marketing activities that might not be in the comfort zone of the other party is welcomed, rather than avoided.
Keep it real
The marketing industry changes so fast that clients should trust their chosen service provider to advise on relevant best practices. It however remains the responsibility of the client to proactively provide the marketing agency with information and ensuring that all marketing activities remain aligned with business objectives.
Keeping in mind that best, cheap and fast is an impossible combination, the outsourcing of marketing strategy or activities for any period of time might bring about the surge of creative energy necessary to take a business from one point to the next.