At Performa Marketing, we use a five-step collaborative methodology for all our projects. While each phase can be deployed separately, they deliver more value when used together in a continuous loop. This article explains how each step can get you thinking about your brand and prepare you to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. Ready for a quick tour?
Our collaborative methodology
Performa’s team has spent years fine-tuning a special collaborative methodology for planning and executing marketing strategies. It’s collaborative because it involves bringing the client to the table with Performa’s in-house team and top-tier contributors at every step of the way.
The five-step process—which is illustrated below—is circular and creates a feedback loop that allows for continuous learning and optimization. When a crisis hits, adjusting your strategy becomes more important than ever and an agile approach—i.e., one that involves iterative testing, learning and adjusting—can prove invaluable.
Of course, effective crisis management calls for short-term action to address urgent issues like protecting employee health, ensuring cash inflows and outflows, etc. But if you look beyond your immediate needs, you might spot opportunities to redefine your business and its image to ensure your long-term survival.
By asking important questions at each stage, we explore different angles and tactics to help businesses adjust to fast-changing market conditions. Instead of playing Russian roulette with your marketing plan, here’s how to get the wheel turning for you.
1. MARKET INTELLIGENCE : AUDIT
The first step in the process is aimed at gaining a better understanding of your business environment. This involves analyzing your brand, competitors, inspirations and best practices. You also want to perform market and SWOT analyses, clearly define your target customer base and determine how your products or services meet their needs.
One thing is for sure: maintaining the status quo is not a viable option during a crisis. You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current marketing strategy and overall business. This information will help you address changing external factors and identify potential opportunities.
What are your key differentiators? How do these defining attributes provide added value in the current context? What do you do better than your competitors? If you had to put all your eggs in one basket, which product or product category would you choose, especially in light of the current digital shift? Alternatively, if you wanted to expand your horizons, what vertical markets are still untapped? How is the current context changing B2B or B2C consumer behaviours? How do you plan to respond to these emerging needs?
Be creative and innovative! Look to other business success stories for inspiration. And don’t forget to seek input from your marketing team, your sales force and even your customers—you might be surprised by their insights!
2. DEVELOP IDENTITY
Day in and day out, you’re immersed in your brand. But do you really understand its positioning and differentiators? Could you do a 3-second elevator pitch? What about 33 seconds? Do your business values shine through in your corporate initiatives and employee actions? Is your brand supported by carefully crafted messages that are consistently conveyed at all points of contact?
The Develop Identity stage of our methodology enables you to document or redefine your brand’s DNA, including the logo, tone of voice, taglines and key messages. Now that content has taken centre stage, consumers expect more than just slick visuals and nice corporate colours. Your message is just as important. Don’t underestimate the importance of crafting the right message in order to grab your audience’s attention and differentiate your offer.
More than ever before, your brand is your best asset. It represents your unique selling proposition. Customer relationships are like all interpersonal relationships in that you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you’ve neglected your branding until now, take advantage of the current lull to give it a boost. With a little effort (and TLC), you’ll come away with a buoyant brand that’s ready to carry you forward and stand strong behind your corporate initiatives. Undoubtedly, it will help your business recover from the crisis.
If content is king, planning is your key to the kingdom. Developing a strong marketing plan involves making sure every dollar is invested strategically to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. This stage in the process involves developing a results-oriented strategy, tactics and KPIs.
Several studies have confirmed that brands that continue to invest in marketing during recessions have an easier time recovering (see articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 below). Since every crisis occurs in a different macro-economic context, it makes sense to err on the side of caution while, at the same time, experimenting with your marketing mix. You want to meet consumers where they’re at. Your plan should be flexible and scalable. Being able to respond to change quickly is essential, especially considering that the future seems to be redefined every week and benchmarks tend to become obsolete overnight. A word to the wise: don’t get caught up in the details. Remember that the Pareto principle trumps perfection in these uncertain times.
Let your creative juices start flowing. This phase involves developing unique, personalized and impactful communication pieces that reflect your marketing strategy and brand identity. No matter what medium you choose, make sure the tone, message and images will reassure your target audience. You’ll want to test several different options and maybe even consider new formats like webinars or videos with practical tips.
Beyond the health crisis and economic mayhem, we’re collectively experiencing a human crisis as people face incredible levels of stress. In fact, all four components of stress, as defined by psychologist Sonia Lupien, are present: limited control, unpredictability, novel situation and threat to the ego. Unsurprisingly, consumer confidence has been shaken. This means it’s a good time to infuse your marketing and communication pieces with empathy (see articles 4 and 5 below) for your clients, your employees and even yourself.
To bring the cycle full circle and maximize your marketing ROI, you need to track the performance and impact of each marketing initiative. Consider tightening the feedback loop. If you used to review results monthly, start doing it weekly instead. Measure, learn, adjust, test, repeat. Don’t let up until your find your sweet spot.
Put our methodology to work for you
Instead of putting your marketing initiatives through the wringer, why not take them through Performa’s 5-step methodology? Our team can guide you through the process. We’ll rally your troops, share our insights and provide some much-needed perspective to help you do it right.
In these uncertain times, we encourage you to rethink your marketing approach and use it as a business driver. Remember Darwin’s theory of evolution: adaptation is key to survival.