Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Harmony Murphy: The value of bold marketing in a brave new world

Harmony Murphy is GM Advertising UK at eBay and NDA’s monthly columnist

2020 was the year the marketing playbook was thrown out of the window.

The Covid-19 pandemic completely upended everything we thought we knew about the world and about people; shaking up their daily lives, changing their habits and altering their values and desires.

But instead of shying away from the unknown, getting stuck in a rut and carrying on with the same old, tired strategies, hoping for the best, this time of uncertainty has created a unique opportunity for bold marketers to push the boundaries and try out new ideas and strategies.

It’s time to play it brave…

Embracing agility

We’ve entered an experimental age and that’s very exciting.

Indeed, in the face of uncertainty, marketers are forced to constantly ask themselves the questions “is this campaign or creative still relevant for this current context and is it delivering the results I need?”. And “how can I change my strategy accordingly?”. In these moments, marketers have the chance to embrace innovation with both hands, be creative and try something they’ve never dared to before.

It’s because of this sheer need to respond to problems and optimise campaigns at speed that marketing mindsets, processes and structures are becoming more fluid and more flexible. On the one hand, the planning process has accelerated exponentially — and a campaign that used to take three months to develop can now be done in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, the evaluation window has shrunk significantly, with brands able to catch and address poor performance in a fraction of the time.

This is great news for marketers as it means that the risk of trying something new is vastly reduced. Your latest idea or experiment didn’t work? No problem. Just regroup, rework and try something different.

Be innovative, be brave

As I said, there’s no rulebook for times like these. But as society and the high street start to open up again, brands have a rare opportunity to re-write the rules. And with more freedom to make mistakes, it’s the perfect time for brands to be bold and explore original ways of engaging with their audiences.

For example, we know that when people are in the market for a new shed, bike or laptop, they may also be in the market for an insurance or finance product. So, while a finance brand might traditionally reach audiences on media sites or via magazines, they may now find that ecommerce sites and other more niche platforms could allow them to reach and engage with customers they wouldn’t usually have access to.

Using new channels, formats and tactics can help brands create more unique customer interactions. This, in turn, will result in stronger human connections. Those that don’t explore different avenues, risk losing out to braver innovators as a result.

Back brave decisions with data insights

But remember, data determines every decision marketers make. As such, brands need to ensure they’re working with trusted partners that can provide them with the freshest data insights and most meaningful metrics they need to be confident in their bold strategies.

Ultimately, one thing is certain: it’s no longer business as usual – we have entered a time where uncertainty can, and should, be viewed as an opportunity to deliver innovative marketing experiences that are meaningful, engaging and create one-on-one customer connections.

In the months ahead, it will be the brands that are agile — prepared to test, learn and try different things — that will achieve this and be able to continuously build and optimise their marketing strategies.

This will help them to reach new audiences, react to unforeseen challenges and capitalise on opportunities — future-proofing their business and propelling them into an innovative new chapter of their marketing journey.