The Pivot None of Us Asked For

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Brands that quickly adapt their messaging, digital, and e-commerce strategies can set themselves up for success.

These are extraordinary times.

No organization could have prepared for this. As a digital agency, we’re no different nor more prepared than anyone else. But here we are, and we need to respond—for our own wellbeing, the wellbeing of our family and communities, and for our clients who are being asked to lead their brands through uncharted territory.

We at FortyFour don’t claim to have all the answers. But as a digital agency focused on data-driven solutions, e-commerce, and strategic marketing, we’re focused on applying practical ideas to partner with our clients to formulate new strategies.

Some brands will need to make quick decisions and alter vast areas of their business, as well as their messaging to their customers, partners, and employees. We’re working with several of our clients to formulate these strategies, build out the frameworks for delivery, and deliver them at the right time.

But that’s not enough. We’re also advising our clients to think further ahead, even in these reactionary times, and ensure their strategy doesn’t just help them today, but also tomorrow and in the months ahead, no matter what our rapidly changing world looks like.

That starts with asking some simple but powerful questions.

What are your strategic goals right now?

For some companies, getting through the next year, the next quarter, or even simply the next month is priority number one. But for others, the great changes we’re all facing are providing unexpected opportunities or pivot points that, while unpleasant, can spur their organization to make important decisions they otherwise would have put off. 

This will change the way business is conducted in many industries. In some cases, formerly slow-moving initiatives will be catapulted to the forefront; what once seemed like nice-to-haves will become business-critical.

What do you need or want to communicate, and to whom?

It’s probably fair to ask if any communication you’re considering is truly required right now. Sometimes it is better to simply be quiet than to say something that hasn’t been strongly considered.

Great emphasis should be put on tone and the necessity of communications. Are we just adding noise, or are we providing real value for our intended audience? In particular, marketing activities that seem like a hard sell or are too aggressive will come off as insensitive and will most likely backfire.

All brands, whether B2B or B2C, should show compassion and offer solutions while being consultative. This may not generate revenue in the immediate term, but it will ultimately help maintain and restore relationships, which will be beneficial once budgets return to “normal.”

Can your message, product, or service help your audience in a practical way?

For B2B companies selling products and solutions that aren’t considered “essential,” the next few months won’t be easy. These “non-essential” expenditures will be the first to get cut from budgets, at least in the short term.

But if your company provides something that can be of service right now, you should speed that to market and build out a messaging framework that clearly explains its value. This also goes for products or services that, with some nimble iterating and strategic maneuvering, can deliver real and needed value to customers.

For example, a number of our clients have invested heavily in their e-commerce capabilities over the years, and they’re reaping the benefits as consumers stay home and shop online. Other clients had ramped up their buy-online, pick-up-in-store capabilities, and they too are seeing huge gains—while also helping their employees and customers stay safe.

Can your brand messages and marketing add value and not noise?

Valuable information is only valuable when the message is delivered at the right time with the right tone. If you have something beneficial to say or offer, now is the time. Do it in a way that is on brand and considerate of broader climate.

Speed is more important than ever. This is the time to push aside bureaucracy, politics, and drawn-out discussions on process. We all face new roadblocks right now, but the brands that can remove roadblocks and get their strategic message out quickly will be advantaged over those that are too slow to move.

So, what happens next?

Buzzwords like adapt, innovate, and transform are overused. But the truth is, sometimes crises force adaptations upon us. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we’re going to see that writ large across our economy. As digital strategists, marketers, and merchandisers, we need to provide sound advice and create pathways to where the new opportunities will be tomorrow.

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