Drowning in content about how your brand can be best placed to navigate the ‘next normal?’ Even if you could read it all, how can you focus on what matters for you and your business? Well, you’re in luck, as we’ve put in the legwork for you, trawling through reports and articles from the world’s top consultancies to cut through the noise and bring you the 4 definitive insights you need to take to the boardroom to secure budget for your brand this year.
So, without further ado.
Insight 1: There’s only one way to get skin in the game
“When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you should advertise. A historical view of advertising during recessions found that brands who continued to invest in advertising found their ads’ effectiveness increased as noise from other brands was silenced.”
According to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, 28% of CMOs said they cancelled a media buy in response to the pandemic. Yet they’re optimistic for 2021 and the months ahead. 74% said they expect to increase spend on digital advertising and 66% on increasing paid search. Clearly, despite tightening purse strings, the need to increase awareness and tell a brand’s story is as important as ever.
Marketing budgets are one of the first things to be slashed in difficult times, but as the Gartner insights suggest, the brands who invest in brand awareness and tell a powerful story will emerge victorious. Take Amazon, who always avoided brand advertising but heavily invested in TV spots to showcase how they responded to the pandemic. They sniffed out an opportunity to shout louder as “noise from other brands was silenced.” And you should, too.
Insight 2: Inauthenticity = the fastest way to kill your brand
“Guided by an authentic, enterprise-wide purpose, organisations turn tough decisions into simple choices – following the path that best embodies their purpose. Purpose-driven enterprises are not only garnering more attention but also spurring consumer action.”
The Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed 34,000 consumers in 28 markets and found that people see businesses as the most competent group to solve global issues (more than non-profits and governments!). Clearly brands have never been under a more intense spotlight when it comes to making a societal impact.
And consumers aren’t afraid to walk away if they don’t approve of a brand’s societal actions. According to Deloitte, during the pandemic 66% of customers surveyed were aware of negative or inauthentic actions taken by a brand, that led to one in four refusing to do business with it again.
The spotlight is real, and having a clearly defined brand purpose that benefits the world in some way is great. But just because customers are demanding more than ever, doesn’t mean you should quickly take a stance on trending societal problems or make grand promises you probably can’t keep. Your audience has a keener nose for inauthenticity than you might think, and not being true to yourself is far more damaging than not aligning yourself to a worthy cause.
If saving baby seals isn’t authentic to your brand, then that’s fine: concentrate on giving people shinier hair for less money, or re-imagining the potential of paperclips, or whatever it is you do. As one CMO memorably put it, ‘not all brands need to be Dove, often they need to shut up.’
That being said, customers are still expecting you to have a clearly defined, long-term brand purpose. Ask more questions. Why do you exist? Why do you sell your products and services? Do you have the right KPIs to measure how your team lives your purpose? Are you holding yourself accountable and keeping the promises you make? That’s how you build customer trust, link profit to purpose, and, in some cases, make the world a better place.
Insight 3: The best are customer-obsessed
“Customers are demanding more than ever. Accustomed to the convenience of online commerce during lockdown, they’re now expecting digital channels to provide a smoother and more efficient customer experience.”
In their Going Digital Faster report, KPMG noted that the pandemic has focused brands’ minds more keenly on customers, with 67% of those surveyed accelerating their focus on improving the customer experience, and 72% saying customer-centric strategy has become a higher priority for 2021.
And it’s not hard to see why this trend has emerged. Studies from Deloitte show that customer needs are evolving, especially in relation to digital technologies. 63% of survey respondents suggested they would continue to use digital technologies more often, long after the pandemic ends.
It’s clear that consumers have different expectations of brand engagement and an increased reliance on digital technology. To be best positioned to meet these needs, brands need to adopt a more customer-obsessed culture, in which they understand evolving needs and create engaging customer experiences across all touchpoints.
To do this, you need to make sure everyone across your entire business is singing off the same customer-obsessed hymn-sheet. The world is anything but static right now, so invest in the infrastructure to use data-driven insights more intelligently, collaborate more efficiently and rapidly prototype and launch your offerings. Seek incremental change. If you move pebbles instead of boulders, you’ll meet your customers’ needs as soon as they emerge.
Insight 4: Make it a conversation, not a statement
“Customer engagement is becoming a two-way street where customers participate as brand ambassadors, influencers, collaborators and innovators.”
According to Deloitte, 64% of executives said they changed the way their brand engages with customers to respond to the pandemic. And it’s clearly a two-way street. In a poll of over 7,500 consumers during lockdown, Deloitte found that 56% of consumers participated in online conversations, gave advice, posted original content about a brand or co-created by providing direct input into the development of products or services. The appetite for two-way participation is growing, and it’s important your brand is prepped to satiate it.
Is your brand truly engaging with consumers? (And we don’t just mean liking the comments on your Facebook ads). Look at the rise of TikTok: a playground of creativity where the lines are blurred between consumers, content creators and brands. In this world, content becomes a co-created conversation, not a statement.
Customers are increasingly looking for interactivity, engagement and a bit of fun. Create a participation plan as part of your marketing strategy and let your audience shape and influence your content and initiatives. Can you think of a better way to ensure your brand is customer-centric?
Ready to take 2021 by storm? We’re an award-winning Brand & Marketing agency who can supercharge your brand, add some magic to your marketing and ensure you’re ready for whatever the future holds, so get in touch.