Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

One year on: what is our “New Normal” and how can businesses continue to thrive?

By Jill Coomber, Managing Director, Integrated Marketing, Europe at Allison+Partners

Perhaps one of the most ironic parts of COVID-19 and the “New Normal” is that while our pace of life has slowed in so many ways, with long walks and weekend-long Netflix binges and the like featuring strongly, the pace of our work lives has picked up exponentially.

Cue the “what is a work / life balance?” question we ask ourselves daily. Arguably, we’ve never had to be quicker on our feet than during the pandemic – constantly pivoting and thinking of new and unique ways to sustain impactful work for our clients. And beyond being quick, success is about doing more with less, and being savvy with smaller budgets whilst maximising ROI.

The “New Normal” presents many challenges and opportunities for businesses. There is a renewed focus on reappraisal and reinvention and on marketing innovation. This is how businesses can continue to succeed through agile storytelling and decision making.

Create and empower agile teams

Many companies are being pressed for shorter decision-making times to meet the demands of the ever-changing landscape. It’s impossible to do this without empowering leaders and team members at large to be more autonomous.

It’s important to ramp up on internal training and quick standup meetings to instil confidence in team members of all levels, so your team is prepared to make quick decisions when needed. And from a structural level, looking at ways to streamline global teams to optimise campaigns and be more strategic with similar budgets.

Play the long game & invest in courting your customer

A significant trend we’ve been seeing is the shift away from growing customer bases to prioritising lifetime revenue. This fundamentally changes the way that we work, plan and strategise – there is a new emphasis on bringing purpose to the forefront of a brand’s messaging and content. Consumers will always buy from who they know and trust, but now they’re looking deeper into the “how” and “what” a brand offers from a purpose perspective.

This past year also highlighted the power of customer advocacy and word of mouth, specifically in the digital sphere.  It’s important to play the long game and invest in a superior customer experience to build meaningful relationships. Whether it’s more impactful digital events (for example, a dynamic panel discussion on Clubhouse) or tailored initiatives that make customers feel special – the opportunity for customers to interact very personally with a brand is key.

Tell a GOOD story

From a company perspective, it’s tempting to push the stories you want consumers to know about your brand – instead of fitting organically into the conversation that your consumers are having or want to have. Finding the key storylines and developing standout creative will forever sit at the beating heart of any campaign. Nowadays, to tell a good story is to use a human-centric and emotionally led approach.

Content strategies must be being driven by actual conversations with real people instead of laden with SEO buzzwords. Reflecting genuine interactions with your community is now what will drive success. The “New Normal” is about being present, thinking agile and executing quickly and strategically. It’s about tapping into how the consumer feels right now and being able to speak to them authentically.

This desire for timely messages, campaigns and initiatives will continue as it’s now the consumer expectation. We start to do this by empowering agile tea