Is your brand heading for
Planning your recovery beyond coronavirus will rely on quickly aligning depleted or re-forged teams behind renewed business goals, says Five by Five Global’s CEO Nick Lawton.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent global lockdowns have had a vast range of impacts on brands and marketers - for some, obliterating their business overnight; for others, supercharging their competitive advantage. But in all cases huge adaptations have been required, whether in working practices, business strategy or campaign planning.
It’s time for brands to move out of a reaction phase and develop a plan to meet the market’s impacted conditions, says Nick Lawton, CEO of independent creative agency Five by Five Global, which has developed its own approach to help brands relaunch their offerings as the lockdown is eased.
Marketing Week asked Lawton to assess the situation brands are facing as they look towards recovery, and to describe how Five by Five’s Post Pandemic Planning Workshops aim to help them address it.
“Anyone can have a sale. We wanted our customers to know that ours was the biggest and the best. The campaign made that happen.”
Jamie Hewett, B&Q
What do you think are the biggest implications of the coronavirus crisis for marketing teams at the moment, and heading into the recovery phase?
Nick Lawton (NL): In the last eight weeks, marketing departments have had to be hugely reactive and that’s tested them to their limits. The crisis has meant three things.
Less facetime, furloughed staff and shortened timeframes have made everyone more familiar with their martech platforms and delivered more understanding of workflow. The pandemic has forced poor processes to be overhauled and decision making to be quicker. If that continues, this will be a good thing for agencies too.
Marketing teams have either forged incredible bonds or fallen apart under pressure, or maybe even boredom, if their business has hibernated. Agencies who have been sidelined will need to be prepared for either a high performing onslaught of expectation or a very sluggish restart from clients that leave them out in the cold. Either way, work cultures and relationships will have changed.
Marketers will need to review their segmentation models in light of prevailing new attitudes from consumers that are likely to be polarised around anxiety levels. Research agencies will be busy for the rest of this year attempting to understand just how embedded attitudes are about the virus continuing to impact consumer confidence and behaviour.
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Do you think there have been opportunities presented to brands due to the coronavirus situation?
NL: We work with one national organisation that has 8,000 employees spread around the country, with a hierarchy that has been stripped right back due to people being furloughed. They seem to be operating much more effectively than they ever have, but other organisations have been found out and missed huge opportunities by under-investing in ecommerce, for example, or by not understanding their brand equity well enough.
A lot has depended on how ready brands were before the pandemic happened. It simply hit too hard for any kind of conventional process to inform a strategy let alone execute on one. I’ve been very interested to see how the brands most negatively impacted by the crisis have seized opportunities. I don’t think many of those stories have been told yet, but take the travel industry for example - the opportunity there has been to implement higher-quality training and guest experience programmes in preparation for when things pick up again. Those who have done so will realise long-term benefits from this economic disaster.
Should brands be aiming for an eventual return to business as usual, or be changing the way they operate entirely?
NL: I can't see business-as-usual returning as we knew it and that’s why we’ve designed this online workshop. We want to help brands figure out what that new normal is and gain consensus on it. I think it's inevitable that organisations will restructure based on what they’ve learned in 2020. The majority are going to be operating in a different way because they've proved to themselves that they can.
Obviously, people will fly less for business because they’ve shown they don’t need to. And when you think about how many people were doing that amount of travel, you see the money that organisations can invest in something else. So the new normal is going to be very different in the way a lot of brands get the job done.
Five by Five is helping brands address these shifts with its Post Pandemic Planning Workshop. Can you explain what it involves?
NL: It's fundamentally a way of teams and organisations aligning, using a 90-minute online and interactive workshop to learn how you are going to re-establish cadence. It helps table what you've been doing well during the pandemic, and what remains problematic. As we explore those issues, each participant can vote anonymously on the priorities, so the group doesn't default to the most senior person's opinion.
We help generate and build potential solutions which are then viewed through the lens of a consumer mindset that is indicative of this new normal. You end up with two or three priorities and the option to explore those in detail in two further sessions, which prototype and test those priorities.
What insights into the pandemic’s effects have you built the workshop on?
NL: We’ve synthesised research from multiple sources including McKinsey, Quantum and YouGov. All of the data that we've been looking at signals consumers are either accepting and progressive or anxious and nostalgic, so the workshop’s outputs are analysed for their impact on support, safety and security. They're important consumer considerations moving forward but most brands aren’t used to addressing them and the relevance is not widely understood.
Which kinds of teams or organisations do you think would benefit from this approach?
NL: The workshop is valuable to any size team but those who’ve been heavily disrupted will of course find it most useful. It could be a senior leadership team looking at things operationally or if you've really struggled through the crisis, it's a way of people getting some clarity around what they need to do to relaunch. The benefits aren’t really determined by the type of team, but rather the frequency with which these workshops are deployed. We’re starting to promote these as part of an agile process that keeps pace with the unfolding situation.
The approach of the Post Pandemic Plan seems to value team collaboration highly. Do you think that kind of decision-making will become more prevalent after the recovery?
NL: I think a lot of people are feeling exhausted by the upheaval of a revised marketing agenda and the intensity of new projects that have been conceived and delivered much faster than usual. Collaboration is a cornerstone of high-functioning work cultures and proves effective in maintaining productivity.
We believe right now, a facilitated session will prove useful even to high performing teams because of the likelihood of stress factors: fatigue, furloughed staff, redundancies, newly formed decision making, new processes etc. The workshop delivers consensus on what the priorities are and the best way to address them. A brand’s success post Covid-19, will depend on their ability to engage their people behind these new go-to-market decisions.
Please contact George Roberts if you would like to discuss taking part in a workshop, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to fivebyfiveglobal.com/workshop
Remote working has led to greater reliance on technology platforms
Business travel is unlikely to resume to the same degree
Lockdowns have changed work cultures and consumer attitudes
Is your brand heading for
Is your brand heading for