If the past two years have taught us anything, it is the need to be flexible in our approach to how we do business. In broader terms, this has led to changes in where employees work, how products and services are sold, rapid changes in demand from consumers and seismic shifts in how people engage with organisations. Alongside this are the challenges of supply chains, staff availability and the ever-changing Government-led regulations.
Flexibility for marketing
The requirement to be flexible now runs through every part of business and it is something marketing departments have had to deal with more than most across this ever-changing landscape.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to ripple through business, 2022 will see the need for this level of flexibility to remain high. So today, marketing departments should be building flexibility into their plans for the coming year to prepare to face this unpredictable world.
What does this look like in practice?
It can start with campaigns. While a perfectly crafted campaign calendar, created before the year begins, is every marketer’s dream, is there the ability to amend, pause, or move activity quickly? With a predominantly digital campaign, this is more straightforward to do, but if traditional media forms part of the plan, has this flexibility been considered?
The pandemic will still impact events and exhibitions in 2022. International travel is difficult and decisions made at boardroom level are intended to minimise risk for staff. Both will affect participation and attendance. So, if events form an element of the annual plan, are they adaptable? Does the plan cater for virtual and physical attendees? Is there the offer of a virtual experience or online access to event content? Can a plan be constructed for the potential postponement, downsizing or rescheduling?
Building a contingency budget into a plan gives it even more flexibility. As the business environment changes, this can take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves or mitigate challenges. It could be rapid content creation to respond to an event or news story, or the swift turnaround of a direct communication piece, such as a mailer or email. Having the ability and resources to pivot quickly delivers a massive advantage.
The migration to digital sales and marketing has accelerated in the last two years and many businesses have seized the opportunity to reach wider audiences. Digital’s natural flexibility, where activity can be micromanaged 24/7, is one of its significant advantages over more traditional media. The shift to digital has also given marketers the ability to measure performance more closely than ever before. However, there is no going back and the flexibility that digital delivers will offer many more opportunities, from automation to personalisation. Still, as we head into 2022, many firms don’t have the skills or resources in-house to take advantage of these opportunities.
While the external challenges present a clear threat, perhaps the biggest obstacle for marketing departments may be an internal one. 2021 has seen the emergence of the Great Resignation, with many individuals re-assessing their careers. This has created a volatile recruitment sector, where positions are vacant for months and candidates currently drive the whole recruitment process. It also presents a headache for all businesses, as the work still needs to get done, but lack of capacity and skills can derail the delivery of activity. So yes, there are questions to be answered by businesses around staff retention. Still, the acquisition of necessary talent and experience is vital to have the resource available to cope with the ever-changing landscape.
How to be flexible
While it’s impossible to cover every eventuality, much can be done to prepare for the unknown. The early identification of campaign elements that might come under threat by any significant shifts in policy. Alongside this, regular marketing activity reviews and monitoring of the business landscape are crucial in remaining one step ahead of the evolving situation.
The use of external support can also offer a path through the issue of resource and skill shortages. By utilising the experience and knowledge of an agency such as EBY, some of the biggest obstacles can be overcome. For example, the requirement could be to create a social media content-led campaign to take advantage of a new opportunity or to produce video content to support an event. Again, relatively simple elements to deploy, but time-consuming to implement and deliver, without external support.
A year of opportunity
We have all learned how to adapt and pivot in short, almost impossible, time periods. Those skills will be more important than ever during the coming year. Even in “normal” times, changes can be rapid, but coupled with the current unpredictability, businesses need to do everything possible to be prepared. Being nimble and agile gives organised companies the chance to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. It’s also a way of future-proofing themselves and remaining successful. So if you want to stay one step ahead of your competition, please get in touch with us today.