None of us have ever experienced anything like Covid-19 before. We are humans and as the founder of World Central Kitchen, Jose Andres said ‘without empathy, nothing works’.
Just as individuals the world over are going through the Canvas-8 stages of Denial, Anxiety, Adjustment, and Re-Evaluation before we eventually find a New Normal, so organisation that lead with purpose are seeking their new north.
Previously as a Recce Soldier in the British Military, I understand the need in times of crisis for the eyes are ears of any organisation to show the leaders the way. In the world of business, sales and marketing are those eyes and ears. Leaders must anchor what matters most whilst embracing new initiatives as well. McKinsey advises: ‘This means, first and foremost, that they must lead with purpose by taking care of their people, their customers, and their communities. At the same time, they must focus on three horizons to shape the way forward: navigate the now, plan for recovery, and lead in the next normal’.
I suggest that this means listening to customers with great empathy during this lockdown period, whilst securing the business financially and looking after teams that are themselves having to adjust to a new and worrying work environment. Marketing during this period is fraught with problems and must be anchored to customer feelings and wider sentiment. Floating in time but tied to sentiment will help create a flexible and productive marketing plan which must also reflect the breathtaking change in digital adoption. An emotionally intelligent assessment of what remnants of current adjustment will last in the new norm is also essential.
I see a national re-evaluation of our approach to the elderly, a renewed realisation of the importance of community, and a wake-up call for the importance of holistic wellbeing – mental, physical, social and financial. Individuals and families are also re-evaluating their purpose in life – and out of every crisis comes opportunity and renewed goals. Sales and marketing leaders must capture these changes, marketing messages must address this re-evaluation and product initiatives must facilitate those goals.
Whilst the wise business brains will be saying ‘Optimise for Lean’, ‘Marshall Resources’ and ‘Be Bold and maintain a through-cycle growth mindset’ (McKinsey), I would suggest that future success truly rests with following the customers on their journey and fulfilling their changing needs – it always has. PR must move boldly from Media Relations and Crisis Management to sales-driven positive PR. Marketing must use great emotional intelligence to empathise with customers and sales must re-invent itself to deliver products that meet revised goals.
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