B2B marketing and communications in the hybrid global scenario

Guest Column: Aashna Khurana, Specialist– Marketing Communications APAC, Barco, shared why there has to be consistency and flexibility in all communication strategies aimed at the new normal

e4m by Aashna Khurana
Updated: Feb 23, 2021 4:10 PM
Aashna Khurana

The year gone by has brought about unprecedented changes. It led to the emergence of new processes and protocols as well as suspension of the established norms of marketing communications and customer engagement. The good thing is that the communication strategies had already evolved. Digital marketing had made a global impact and companies had started spending millions of dollars out of their marketing budgets on online channels even before the pandemic. Hence, in essence, the pandemic has brought the alternative into focus as the conventional outdoor and mass-marketing services got disrupted all over the world. 

Times have changed

The shift towards digital communication in the aftermath of the contagion has been multi-pronged and became a key enabler of business operations and expansion. The need of the hour is to review the way processes were followed and accommodate the shift in a future-centric manner. There has to be consistency and flexibility in all communication strategies aimed at the new normal. 

The convention of a fixed shift from office has gone for a toss. Although in most parts of the world, businesses have resumed and the work-from-office activities are gathering momentum, the rigidity of working norms has changed permanently. The new working styles such as social distancing, rotational shifts, work-from-home and usage of digital technology for communication have come to define the agility and resilience required in the post-pandemic era. These changes have created a cascading effect on workplace dynamics. The utilization of time has changed, as have priorities in some cases. 

How to remain in the game

The revised playing conditions have not gone unnoticed by the business leaders and stakeholders. There is an all-round initiative being taken by the leaders to transform the communication methodologies while addressing the internal as well as the external audience. Unlike the past when internal communication used to be formal and external communication with customers centred on sales and revenue, now is the time to establish connections. The good old practice of businesses connecting on an individual level with the customers is worth the effort now. Companies are going ahead and asking their customers about their worries, challenges and requirements. 

‘We stand by you!’ is the mantra of the day. 

The idea is not to go pushing for sales but ensuring that the business stays relevant in the changed circumstances. It doesn’t matter if your product was the best-seller in 2019, but if it doesn’t conform to the 2021 concerns then it might become irrelevant. It is not the biggest problem if the customers don’t buy the product at the moment. The need is to ensure that the product continues to be relevant for the current times. As and when a consumer decides to buy that product or service, the brand recognition must be there. For instance, when the lockdown was imposed globally, businesses like aviation, hospitality, and travel, etc., were suspended, the brands operating in these verticals kept their marketing communication open. We could see the communications such as public health advisories, urging their patrons to stay safe and how they waited to serve them again. The underlying thought is that whenever the customer decides to buy a product or service similar to the one offered by your business, you should be on his/her mind. 

To create such brand connectivity and impact, companies need not only look outward but inward as well. Irrespective of where the employees are working from, there is a need to stay in touch and keep the flow of communication going. Employers have to pay the same attention to their teams that they give to the customers and share all relevant as well as important information regularly. 

Employees are important

Employees are today a great part of your brand equity and happy ones make great brand ambassadors. There is an unprecedented need to be dynamic and be ready to handle any contingency related to change in operating conditions, employee sentiments, queries as well as media attention, or the changed mood of the communities in which they operate. This necessitates the creation of effective, annual, long- as well as short-term contingency plans. 

Why cutting down marketing budget is a bad idea

In the wake of the pandemic, revenue flows have been hit and many brands have cut down their marketing communications budget. However, that’s more of a penny-wise-pound- foolish approach as the flow of communication needs to be greater now in order to prevent loss of brand equity. Customers are seeking assurance and brand support. Brands that are staying off the market or lying low in terms of communication are actually harming their future prospects. If you are facing cash crunch and are compelled to cut corners, still, look for cost-effective and high ROI options instead of stopping the flow. The new normal requires marketing and communication on a personalized level and any money spent on it is a strategic investment. 

Conclusion

If your brand has been around for years then the pandemic presents a great opportunity to showcase your thought leadership and ability to foster critical conversations that people wish to join, read about, and share. Share your expertise with others especially young businesses and entrepreneurs struggling to remain afloat in the current scenario. This is not the time to just promote your brand or to sell more. While that will always remain at the core of every business activity, this is the time to show that you are genuine, caring, confident and positive about a great future for the brand and the customers!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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