Over the past few weeks, we have been working closely with our clients across many different industries and sectors, all over the world, and learning that even some of the biggest global companies are struggling to keep their marketing moving forward and collaborating remotely with their colleagues seamlessly to do so. With a significant remote workforce in place, we at SGK are thankful that we are in a strong position to help them fulfill the demands of today while preparing for the future.
While companies struggle to deal with these historic business challenges, the vast majority are learning that their marketing ecosystems are more fragile than they realized. What they learn about those fragilities today and the risks they pose to their business when faced with events similar to COVID-19—over which they have no control—will inform how they adapt their business continuity plans moving forward.
How do we define the marketing ecosystem? The marketing ecosystem is a complex community of interconnected marketing technologies, processes, people, and content that interact across digital and physical environments.
What can companies do right now to begin building a highly productive marketing ecosystem that is able to respond decisively and effectively during global events like this in the future?
- Audit Your Marketing Ecosystem Enterprise-Wide: Start thinking about auditing the processes, roles, and governance procedures within Marketing across your ecosystem globally. It’s an opportunity to streamline workflows for the future, identify hidden capital that you can reinvest in growth activities and reengineer processes to align with consumers in a changed world.
- Audit Your Marketing Partners: Start creating a plan to audit your marketing partners for their “digital fitness,” technology resources, remote-workforce capabilities, material sourcing options, and business continuity plans. Each year, ask them what’s changed or how they’ve made improvements.
- Plan to Commit to a Disciplined Change Management Strategy: Big companies don’t change how they operate quickly or easily. It’s a big lift, a big ask, and can be a big risk if not guided by a clear and disciplined change management strategy. Behavioral changes scale over time as part of a committed journey. It’s critical to prepare, equip, and support individuals to successfully adopt change to drive long-lasting operational success.
- Plan for The Long Game: While making short-term tactical decisions to keep the business operating today, keep a long-term strategic view in mind. Weigh the long-term consequences of the decisions you make today, and consider the options of how today’s challenges might be dealt with more effectively in a similar situation in the future. Avoid knee-jerk reactions that might damage or limit recovery options once the crisis is over.
- Integrate Your Technology Systems: The marketing ecosystem is infinitely complex with many disparate systems; start talking to a provider that specializes in creating collaborative digital networks. They can integrate all your martech systems to give you visibility into data across systems and apply machine learning and automation to large-scale content production.
- Improve Your eCommerce Content: Start improving your eCommerce content right now to align with an expected increase in online shopping. Optimize your packaged and unpackaged product content so it is consistent across all etail sites—from copy to images and videos—executed to maximize search results on Amazon and other sites. Shift more of your content creation and production from other channels to eCommerce Content.
- Monitor Consumer Sentiment About Your Brand: Start monitoring and looking for cues and insights that can inform modifications to marketing messaging today to ensure it keeps pace with what consumers are thinking, how they are feeling, how they are behaving, and how they view their relationship with your brand. How a brand behaves right now can create a brand switching opportunity in the near future.
- Take a Fresh Look at Your Brand: Post-pandemic, conduct a strategic health review of your brand to learn how it may have been impacted (positively or negatively) by your marketing during the crisis. Did your brand earn or lose goodwill equity? Did the way consumers use your product change? Did they associate a particular purpose with your brand that you didn’t anticipate? What learnings can you capitalize on to drive growth in the future? And how might this impact your roadmap for innovation going forward?
Your marketing ecosystem may be under considerable strain right now, being pressure-tested in a variety of ways, some of which you may have never anticipated. That’s exactly why it is vital to not lose sight of the more forward-thinking strategic plans you can begin executing against post-pandemic. But to do that, it’s important to keep these eight things in mind today so you can begin building a stronger marketing ecosystem when business begins to stabilize.
About Patti Soldavini: Patti Soldavini is a futurist who has pushed the boundaries of marketing and creativity to connect brands with consumers, using leading edge technology to drive results. For the past 25 years on both the agency and client sides of the business across the entertainment, retail and pharmaceutical industries, she has served in marketing leadership positions for the New York Cable Marketing Co-op and IQVIA (formerly IMS Health) and in creative leadership positions for Home Shopping Network and Anthem Worldwide prior to joining SGK. She is passionate about the intersection of creativity, technology and psychology.