These are crazy times.
Every time I leave my house I look around at the quiet roads and empty parks and think about how bizarre this situation is – and I’m sure I’m not alone.
So I thought I’d share some of the things I’m going through in the lock down and how it’s affecting the day to day marketing and strategic work I’m currently focussed on. I hope these tips can help you in whatever you’re focussed on right now.
Alongside my writing, speaking and consulting I’ve been lucky enough to be working with a fantastic young company in London. Since last summer we’ve managed to deliver growth in the 100s of percents and a real transformation of the business. Unfortunately this business is in the travel sector so we’ve taken a hit to the strategy when we were really riding high.
But every strategy must be able to cope with these macro changes, big or small. In my 20 years in the industry I’ve never had to pivot quiet this much but the principles remain the same. So without any more waffle here is a view as to what I’ve been doing to adapt the strategy in the day to day and long term.
1. Keep the teams motivated
When staff go on furlough, have their work turned upside down, see their targets start to miss by a distance or have to take on extreme levels of work, it can be hard for them to stay positive.
As a result I have made it my mission to ensure every one of the team stays positive and connected. The message has not focussed on the obvious negatives but instead on the opportunity.
Now is the chance to improve those things we don’t usually have time for so we’re stronger when we come out of this. Now is the chance to create a content strategy that empathises and really speaks to people. Now is the time to improve that tech that’s never been fully implemented.
Keeping the team motivated and positive helps retention levels of course but also can deliver gems of work in these dark times and means we will be much stronger when we come out the other side of this.
Positive leadership has never been more important.
2. Stay on target
Yes the strategy has taken a turn. Or more accurately it’s diverted off the road, off the pavement and into the fields. But that doesn’t mean the over arching strategy changes.
We may need to employ new tactics, target very specific segments, focus on key performance and long term channels and fully optimise every penny spent, but none of this changes the end goal.
We are still trying to get from one side of the chasm to the other but the bridge is no longer there. Now we need to build rope ladders, learn to climb and work hard as a team to get there. But we will still get there.
Do not lose sight of that end goal. Don’t let the short term fog cloud your vision of the end goal.
3. Improve communications
Communication is always the thing businesses fail at. No matter what size or type of business it is the easiest thing to go wrong. Why?
Because we are humans. And humans are bad at communicating. Stay with me on that. Humans are the best communicators is the world right? Perhaps but that is also our curse. Our communication methods are so complex and so diverse that they are easy to misinterpret and many of us have very different methods and views of what works.
With digital tools this can be compounded as we default to the method that is most comfortable for us and that will never be the same for everyone.
So ensure you and everyone you work with knows how you like to communicate. Be clear that the tools you use are consistently used across the business. Talk often. Don’t leave out the detail. Be thorough and constant in your communication. This has never been more important.
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4. Focus, focus, focus
Don’t let the distraction of working from home take your professional focus away. I don’t mean the TV and barbecue. More that in an environment that isn’t the usual office space it can be difficult to focus as you would normally.
Don’t be tempted to do things that you wouldn’t do in the office. Focus on the key tasks, platforms and processes that you would if you were there. Don’t lose sight of the paid search optimisation, the daily, weekly, monthly reporting, the content calendar management. These should not be parked simply because you’re not currently working in business as usual mode.
Focus on the key areas that have always delivered success for you and continue to drive them forward.
5. Get inspired
You may have an office with creative outlets or you may receive inspiration from colleagues, meetings with partners or events.
In marketing, inspiration is essential. And you can find it anywhere.
I would strongly encourage every marketer to go for a walk each day. And not the same old route. Go to new places. Look in places you wouldn’t normally look. Stay safe outside but use your time out there to keep your creative brain working.
And hold regular creative and innovation sessions. Get people away from the day job on a regular basis to think. Maybe get everyone to sit in their garden for a video conference and discuss content ideas and future campaigns there.
Don’t let your genius creative brain dry up.
Those are some simple thoughts at 1am from just another marketer trying to find his way though this unprecedented time.
Most importantly stay focussed on your strategy, stay positive and stay safe.