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Be brand positive and don’t sack your agency, yet
<p>Kavita Koserwal, Director and CEO, Orcomm Advertising<br></p>
No doubt these are trying times but these are times to try as well

Be brand positive and don’t sack your agency, yet

No doubt these are trying times but these are times to try as well
  • The current situation has put many glaring questions in front of marketeers, about how they should react to the situation, should they come up with communications?
  • Kavita Koserwal, Director and CEO, Orcomm Advertising writes about how marketeers could use communication as an adhesive to build bonds during adverse times.
This might be one of the worst times that we are seeing. There’s fear, panic and uncertainty all around. Markets are down, public sentiment is at an all-time low, companies are staring at an uncertain but bleak future, hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake and an overall directionless attempt to assess the abysmal trail of destruction this ultra-microscopic virus will leave behind.

The situation has put a glaring question in front of marketeers. What should they do now? How should they react to this situation? Is it doomsday already? Should they succumb to the notion that nothing, literally nothing is going to happen in the next 21 days? Should they all keep quiet? How far can these “stay home, stay safe” messages go? Should the agency be trimmed or axed?

Cutting down on ad spends is one quick fix that everyone’s looking at. It is happening already. Facebook has reported an 'adverse effect' on ad spends across all its platforms. They say, people are flooding their platforms and marketeers are absconding. Why spend precious bucks on communication when no one’s bothered about buying? Right? Well, surely when the choice is between life and what to buy, the winner is, well, obvious. But then, who said you only communicate to sell?

Communication is the adhesive that builds bonds during adverse times. Look around yourself. Don’t you share a special bond with people who have stood by you in tough times? Didn’t communicating with them help you navigate through rough waters? Then how can this be different for your brand? You want to build a lasting relationship with your customers. You want to earn your employee’s loyalty and your investor’s trust but going incommunicado isn’t going to do it for you.

Let’s start on the inside. You are trying to keep the ship afloat and your employees are manning the oars working from home. But they are also scared of this storm. Scared of falling off the boat. This is where a brand should talk to its people. Engage all means of internal communications; intranet, email, WhatsApp, your own social channels. Tell them that they are the reason you will be able to see through these tough times. Make sure you appreciate them as often as possible. Motivate them not with incentives but by being sensitive. By telling them ‘you care’ and reassuring them of their position in the company. This will keep them pepped up and earn you their performance and loyalty.

This is also the perfect time to constantly communicate with your customers. Look at it this way – right now, you have the most ‘captive’ (literally) audience you could ever hope for. But they are presently directionless, scared and surrounded by negativity. So, the first thing as a brand we can do is to be positive. Be a brand committed to its customers, today more than ever. Be a brand that is least concerned about bottomline and more about the well-being of its customers (and non-customers). Develop conversational communications. Add some value to your customer’s life, be it knowledge, entertainment or simple positive thoughts. Be a brand that is spreading positivity in the times of negativity and uncertainty. Be humane. Be Brand Positive. Spread the good word even if you have to spend those precious advertising bucks in doing so.

No doubt these are trying times but these are times to try as well. Try to forge a stronger relationship with all stakeholders Starting with your employees, try to let them know that the brand that they have given their blood and sweat to, is standing with them and they should not fear. Try to let your investors know that you are positive and your brand will come out of this with flying colours. Try to let your customers know that you don’t care about how much they spend on you but how much they can depend on you. Try to build the brand you’ve always aspired to be.

Be authentic, it’s an opportunity to refocus on the brand purpose. Take it beyond selling to supporting communities when it matters most. Let your consumer know what you stand for and how.

In times such as these, it’s best not to 'stay safe', strategy wise ofcourse. Rather, be prepared to take risks. think now for the uncertain times that lie ahead for all of us.

Lastly, don’t sack your agency, just yet. Get it to think beyond sales and offers. Get it to create communication that focuses on building a lasting relationship with all your stakeholders. And if it fails to do this, sack it.

- This column has been written by Kavita Koserwal, Director and CEO, Orcomm Advertising