Written by: Shalini Singh
About the author: Chief-Corporate Communications, Sustainability & CSR at Tata Power | Woman Director | TEDx Speaker | Passion for Social & Green Causes!
Way back in 1959, US President John F. Kennedy had said that word ‘crisis’ also presents an opportunity. Decades later, this statement is more relevant than ever for businesses during a pandemic. When a pandemic like Corona virus struck us, everything from our daily routine to the way we run business and hold conversations has changed drastically. While we are together in this, the truth is our perspective is also changing collectively. As leaders in the communications sector, we have to focus on the shifts while being sensitive so that we can be responsible without losing out on opportunities. In the last few years, the digital platform was teeming with opportunities for the communication industry. Now, with everyone at home, the need to convey the right message on the digital platform has also become imperative. Moreover, the economic challenges of the current period have ensured that businesses think innovatively when it comes to the digital media.
Increased focus on Digital Content
With the current situation taking a toll on business, many organisations have to focus on digital marketing to stay ahead of the curve. Brands are compelled to think sharper on Return On Investment (ROI) factor. As we navigate the digital space, within the realm, data-driven marketing and marketing automation become necessary since these generate even sharper focus and enable far better ROI on spends. If predictions are to be believed, then digital spends will go up from 20-30% of the current total media spends to as high as 69-70% in the post COVID era.
Greater focus on augmented technologies
While we are depending on technology for day-to-day communications, in some respects advanced technologies are ruling the roost. With virtual reality and augmented reality coming in, newer forms of content like short videos can be experimented upon. This will help in creating digital touch points that enable smoother connection with consumers creating real-time conversations between both parties. Greater adoption of technologies will also enable real-time marketing communications that will help brands to build a more robust equations with their consumers.
Empathetic communication strategy
Tough times call for more sensitivity and now as agents of communication we need to focus more on empathetic ways of communicating with each other at a more profound level. Listening to consumer conversations and discovering open-ended possibilities for new business ventures is important to instil hope and positivity. A bold new vision for a better future can be comforting for the consumers. A direct communication with the consumer can increase the reach and be inspiring in the way it resonates with the current times. Internally, we need to make employees the champions and representatives of our culture by making communication more employee-centric and less about work. Since timing is everything in communication, as leaders we need to develop a response plan for quick and effective handling of consumer queries and shifts in the market. Our leadership needs to conduct programmes to rebuild organization morale and strengthen the employees through apt internal communication.
Shift to Virtual Platforms
With social distancing becoming a norm, many meetings, events and press conferences are being shifted to online mediums. The $1.5 trillion Global Business Event Industry has seen events being either closed, rescheduled, or going virtual since Covid-19. Around 86% of participants in online meetings reported equal or higher levels of engagement compared to in-person. This goes onto show that the trend of online events might continue even after the lockdown as it helps in cutting down costs of travel and other logistics. Online conferences also allow the organisers to reduce costs of admission enabling them to invest more into speakers.
Predictive Analysis and Big Data
Predictive analytics is a category of data analytics aimed at making predictions about future outcomes based on historical data and analytics techniques. With predictive analytics, organizations can find, and exploit patterns contained within data to detect risks and opportunities. Models can be designed, for instance, to discover relationships between various behavioural factors. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, consumer behaviour started shifting rapidly and significantly altered normal pattern impacting business forecasts, such as trends or KPIs forecasts that depend on volatile market conditions. Predictive analytics solutions could help businesses map the various stages of the buyer journey, which would enable the adoption of suitable campaigns and lead to higher sales and customer retention. Predictive analytics and these algorithms at work not only enhance the cost-effectiveness of business decisions but also increase model sustainability by analyzing massive amounts of data. Everything from stock moves, customer behaviour and algorithmic trading are being handled by data scientists. Leveraging data science and predictive analytics solutions will allow organisations to uncover hidden revenue opportunities through factors such as location, competitive prices, income availability, consumer purchase patterns, etc.
Challenges of Decreasing Brand Loyalty
While we are discussing the tectonic shifts in the industry, we also need to be conscious about the challenges that we might face. At a volatile time like this, we must be prepared for zero brand loyalty among consumers. The only way we can connect with them is by discovering relevant consumer problems and mapping adequate business outcomes to it. We have to reflect more through actions, solving real challenges that are constantly changing with the times. To break through the existing clutter, we have to constantly innovate and be creative in our campaigns. This means that we have to make the most of evolving technologies, implementing real-time communications. This may require integration with multiple systems and adoption of new technologies to achieve the required results.
We need to constantly educate ourselves on the technologies to re-imagine consumer-centricity and re-evaluate shift in priorities of target groups through primary research. We have to pay heed to an increased need to understand and apply technology including social listening tools, media monitoring, etc as times are changing fast. With problems, come solutions and we need to change our thinking strategy and focus on the different mindset of the target audience. We also need to explore the different tools available to us in times of social distancing and innovate with them. Keeping an open mind and facing all the challenges is the only way to grow. Adapting to the changing times and yet staying ahead of the curve is the new mantra.