Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Freedom day: What advice do agencies have for clients as restrictions are lifted?

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By Barry Flaherty, Jitterbit

You’d be forgiven for thinking that our post-lockdown world will be one of endless uncertainty and insecurity. All the talk of ‘new normals’ and ‘unprecedented times’ has left everyone feeling a little anxious about what’s to come—a feeling perhaps not helped by the ‘flexibility’, shall we say, of the day all restrictions would be finally lifted.

However, July 19—a.k.a ‘freedom day’—is here, and with it, a period of time when customers and clients are going to need more guidance and support than ever. For me, it’s time for the conjecture to stop and for everyone to draw upon all their know-how to help tackle the challenges at hand.

That’s why we rounded up six tech and innovation leads at a range of digital agencies and asked them for the real-world advice they’re giving to their clients in preparation for life – and growth – after lockdown. From shunning the myth of the single platforms to remembering ‘know your customer’, here’s what our agency brains had to say when we asked:

What one piece of tech advice are you giving to your clients as they emerge out of lockdown?

Brad Smith, Director & Founder of Succeed Digital:

Put simply, the ‘single platform’ promise that vendors and brands alike strive for doesn’t exist. If it did, it wouldn’t be enough to meet the demands of the modern day marketer. As great as it sounds to have one system to manage everything across the Martech stack for brands today, the reality is far from that.

So, as we emerge from the lockdown and clients review what tech systems they have in place, what’s working for them, and what’s not, we need to help clients appreciate that what they may actually need is three, four, or even five technologies integrated together to meet the needs of the business. Setting that expectation early on helps avoid disappointment for clients further down the line and also from poor platform selection decisions.

When it comes to choosing tech, always remember to ‘measure twice, cut once’. If it sounds like a dream solution being pitched to you, then it probably is just that—a dream. Clients should try to avoid being wowed by the whole features and benefits parade and instead focus on what really matters to their business and the problems or challenges they’re setting out to solve.

James Browne, Director, 4Roads:

The Amazon effect is not going to go away, so expand your digital presence with services and offerings that allow your clients and customers to execute as much as possible through automation and intelligent self-service.

Becky Shields, Head of the Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence team, Moore Kingston Smith:

Lockdown has changed peoples’ mindsets in relation to the increasing acceptance of the digital era and its potential benefits. Technology can be seen both as an ‘enabler’ for meeting new business requirements and as a ‘driver’ of change by itself as it brings to life the art of the possible. So, embrace the change, take a step forward and build your competitive advantage.

Royston Brookes-Lewis, Head of Strategy, 383

Plenty of companies have pieced together temporary solutions and workarounds to help them weather the Covid-19 storm, and some of those may well have opened doors to new audiences and previously untapped revenue streams.

However, lockdown has been a unique situation, and it’s not guaranteed that customer behaviours and attitudes we’ve seen over the past 18 months will become the norm.

There are three things businesses can do to prepare for lifting restrictions: firstly, make sure they talk to customers and review their data to understand user needs post-lockdown; secondly, review and reassess operating models and product roadmaps in light of those needs; and finally, review any pivots or workarounds against the product vision to ensure strong alignment.

James Fox, Business Director, WundermanThompson

Customer expectations of their digital experience have only increased during lockdown. It’s no longer enough then to benchmark versus your competitors or sector anymore. We need to aim to deliver the quality of experience provided by the likes of Amazon and Apple now.

Tracey Burridge, Director, RizkMcCayTribe

Coming out of lockdown, businesses really need to know their audiences.

Behaviours and trends across most customer audiences both in B2B and B2C have changed a lot in the last 12 months and businesses need to know how to reach them, what’s important to them, and what they want. If you understand your customer, learn how to reach them, and talk to them, you will build brand loyalty, brand equity, and sales.

Some questions to think about are, how is your brand perceived by your customers? Does your digital offering meet your customer needs? Is your business putting your customer at the forefront? We see so many businesses that put their own business processes or own wants before their customers and it massively impacts what they could achieve as a business. My advice? Look at your customer strategy and get it right for your customers.