'Re-evaluating marketing strategies post COVID: Focus will be on short-term plans'

Guest Column: Pankaj Gupta, Sr. EVP (Sales) & CMO, HDFC Life, shares all that the company is doing to ensure they bounce back stronger

e4m by Pankaj Gupta
Updated: Jun 30, 2020 8:25 AM

Marketing is defined in many different ways. However, one is certain to find the emphasis on consumer in each one of them. This makes defining a marketing playbook for a post Covid-19 world a tricky business.
Covid-19 has changed not only the consumer and their behaviour but also impacted the economics of most businesses and the environment in which we conduct businesses.
This is the first time in several decades that the world has witnessed such a large pandemic, one that has impacted so many countries so severely, simultaneously. At the moment, we are still witnessing the pandemic as it unfolds and hence, it would be difficult to assess the potential ramifications. So, while I am wary of defining my playbook, here are some of things we at HDFC Life are doing to ensure we bounce back stronger!

Know Your Customer, Again

We are all going through a period of rapid evolution. The longer this crisis extends, the more significant and deeper rooted would be the changes.

Hence, it is extremely important to reassess our offerings and communication basis this emerging customer, their needs and changed priorities. One needs to be in touch with the customer and the sales teams through primary and secondary researches, with ears to the ground and with additional inputs from subject matter experts.

Short Term Is The New Long Term

The other significant step we are taking is to re-evaluate our marketing strategy and plans. Vision 2021, 3-year and 5-year strategies need radical refresh. It would be essential for now to focus on shorter range plans that extend for up to a maximum of say three to six months. Further, the short-term plans need to be recalibrated at regular intervals to ensure they remain in line with the emerging situation.

We have been reviewing data and implications, meeting with subject matter experts on a regular basis to understand better various aspects and what they mean for us.

Long terms plans can be relooked once this situation is contained and normal life is largely restored. However, being relevant and driving value for both the customer and business remains core to our strategy.

Focus On What You Can Control

It’s a no brainer that when you focus on what you can control, rather than being bogged down by the non-controllable factors, you are far more likely to experience success. It is important to look for ways to control the outcome, and be agile to change the approach wherever needed. By putting the effort on what one can impact, the limitations imposed by constraints are contained.

Digital Is The New Normal

While all our interactions will not always remain only digital and we will go and meet with our friends, family, colleagues and partners again once it is safe to do so, this somewhat forced and rapid digital transformation is here to stay. Brands that have already been on a digital journey have benefited from being able to largely service and meet customer needs even under lockdown.

Many consumers who have now tasted easier access to content and transacting online would continue to explore and demand online solutions for many of their other needs as well. Hence, every business including ours would need to further simplify and reinvent existing offline and online methods of business and be further aligned to the new digital.

Be Authentic, Empathize

In this ever-changing world, a few of the things have remained constant. When we look at some of the recent marketing and communication efforts closely, it becomes obvious that engagements that have genuinely helped the customer or society at large have been appreciated and connected well with the consumers. One can also notice that it is an especially bad time for gimmicks of any kind. In fact, it would be best to engage with consumers during these times only if you have something meaningful to offer and that too, in an authentic way.

I believe that through these efforts we are identifying the needs and wants of our changing customer, and once that’s done we would need to find newer ways of satisfying them and update our ever-evolving marketing playbook.

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