COVID-19 has hit the global economy like a tsunami – wiping out everything and everyone in its midst. The ripples and rumbles were detected early on, but we think we speak for the majority in saying we underestimated its titanic proportions.

Woman in Beige Coat Holding Smartphone

Ignorance is bliss, until it hits 

Back in Feb and, let’s face it, even up to mid-March, we saw the wave on the horizon, and thought it would cause a bit of a splash, before we’d be back procrastinating over Brexit and how to incorporate smarter AGM practices into our daily prospecting. Oh how naive we were.

Then came the realisation. It’s coming, and we probably should have planned a little better for this. And so, over the past week or so, we’ve felt the economic side effects hit sectors across the board. People cannot or are not spending. Services have become limited or obsolete. And manufacturing either isn’t a priority or a possibility. As a result, Peter has stopped spending, and Paul is … out of pocket! Or is he?

Short-termism killed the cat

Living hand to mouth in business has never been a good idea. Be reactive yes, but don’t base your whole business strategy on the here and now. Whilst businesses are reducing spend, it can be difficult to envision long term opportunities and strategic direction for the future. But, simply put – you must.

The rise in digital marketing has made a combination of short term and long term tactics the common norm for brands. In such extreme circumstances, we often see business leaders ditch their long term plan, in favour for more agile and reactive short terms tactics. But, this approach alone won’t save a business.

Blue and White Sorry We're Closed Wooden Signage

Acclimatising to the new normal

The economic impact of COVID-19 can be broken down into three distinguishable phases.

Phase one, is shock. We’ve already seen this, and in the majority of cases are still experiencing it. During this ‘shock’ or ‘crisis’ phase, we default to focusing all of our efforts on understanding what is happening. We are transfixed on supporting and in some cases establishing new business processes. And we spend a large proportion of resource on attempting to reassure customers, teams and contractors alike.

Phase two is a little more complex. It’s recovery – but it can start amidst the crisis phase. As soon as you adapt your business and implement short term tactics, you enter the recovery phase in some guise. As the shock factor begins to fade, your business offering adapts, and so to must its marketing. But marketing for the here and now, is not enough.

Enter phase three. The new normal. The realisation hits that things will never be normal again. We are all changed, and as brands emerge from the epicentre and come to asses the damage, this is when the realisation of depending on reactive marketing alone hits. There is no pipeline. Plan B is dead in the water or no longer relevant and the future prospects of the company hinge entirely on the success of the here and now.

Future-proofing in an abstract reality

These phases are all key. And in them there is absolutely a place for reactive marketing. We’ve seen numerous examples of businesses diversifying to meet the new needs of our society. Bye bye beer, hello hand gel. Hasta la vista Spring/Summer 2020, hello Zara’s COVID-19 collection. But, whilst businesses consider innovative ways to stay relevant, useful and agile amidst the current crisis, they shouldn’t neglect the long view.

Life will be changed when we emerge out of the other side of this. But any brand worth its weight understands the values it holds and USPs it offers to its customers. These should form the crooks of the long term plan. And let’s be clear, there absolutely MUST be a long term plan. Regardless of how agile your business model is, for it to succeed you need to identify demand, fine-tune your offering and create trust in your brand for both now and in the future.

Marketers that get overly distracted by the here and now, will forget to sow their seeds for harvest. The secret – create balance in your strategy and allow room for short term and long term tactics.

At Prohibition, we work with a range of a range of B2B brands to deliver powerful campaigns that achieve real business results. Get in touch with us today: hello@prohibitionpr.co.uk to find out how we could help you.

About Ella Cairns

Blogger & Account Director @prohibitionpr. Vogue obsessed! Love the ‘f’ words; fashion, food, family, friends, females. Based in Leeds.