Read part one of our Ask LEWIS recap here.
Meet our panel:
- Keso Kendall, Head of Strategic Regional Accounts, APAC
- Steven Reilly, Managing Director, Australia
- Fairil Yeo, VP, Transformation, APAC
What can traditionally offline businesses do to quickly move online given that there is no visibility on footfall traffic. How can these businesses recover?
Fairil: Start small. When we talk about retail, you have to decide to put your business and your products online. This also applies to those in the services industry. In APAC, there are a ton of eCommerce platforms available. Use collaboration tools like Zoom or Cisco Webex.
If you are managing teams, you also need to think about connection. One of the main things, is we also have to switch our mindset – as entrepreneurs, managers, executives in the boardroom – where is my audience and how do I get there. It doesn’t have to be a massive roadmap but small incremental steps. And that’s where we can find success when it comes to adapting to the pace of change.
Amidst the pandemic, a lot of marketers or brands may not have the headspace of budget to think about comms or content. How do we reframe conversations about this?
Steven: Businesses are facing very real operational challenges. In times of crises, it’s easy to jump into the reactive mode and address the immediate things that are in front of you.
More important in times of crises, is to communicate with your audience – from employees, to suppliers to the customers who buy your products and services. Connection is what people are seeking more than ever. Brands should communicate with authenticity, empathy and positivity. There’s a role for brands to play in driving positivity and encouraging the various stakeholders that if we work together, we can get through this.
“When it comes to unchartered territory like this, sometimes it’s about exercising your instinct because there is no playbook.” – Steven Reilly, Managing Director, LEWIS Australia
The other point that I want to allude to, is that this isn’t the time for ill-conceived or poorly timed messages. There is a danger in over communicating – this has happened a lot with brands in Australia recently. We’ve seen brands receive backlash towards brands that were for pushing far too many messages of support – very well intentioned but it has to be useful to the audience, whether it’s business operations or practical advice, or expert analysis on how a brand helps their customers.
It goes back to the point earlier about applying the best use of judgement and when it comes to unchartered territory like this, sometimes it’s about exercising your instinct because there is no playbook. And if you don’t know, now is the time to consult with experts.
Keso: Online consumption is peaking right now – with so many people working at home we know it’s an all-time high. If you’re having little headspace, or budget to think about content, really content has never been so important than right now because people are going online, they’re trying to find information online.
And like Steven said, it’s really about intention of your content. There’s no point in putting something out there with no value. So, think about if your content is there to educate and inform your audience, if it’s a message of support – is it backed up by action? Is my organisation actually doing something to support the local economy, or hospitals or people working on the frontlines of this crisis? Make sure that your content has weight. There is definitely an opportunity to put content out – people are looking for guidance or an escape into something fun. Don’t de-prioritise content now.
What can brands do now to prepare to the road to recovery?
Keso: The first step is to understand where your consumers are – both emotionally and also in terms of the channels. What evolution have people one through? What issues have they faced? What role does your business play in all of this? The hard truth is, not all goods are services are critical right now.
What you as a brand did during this time will affect your storytelling going forward. The biggest exercise that brands can undertake coming out of this is to do a complete reassessment of their brand positioning. We work with brands to develop message houses and brand audits. Take the time to do an analysis of the market sentiment and how you can adapt their messaging based on this information.
“The biggest exercise that brands can undertake coming out of this is to do a complete reassessment of their brand positioning.” – Keso Kendall, Head of Regional Strategic Accounts, LEWIS APAC
Fairil: Finding purpose is key. People will remember no matter how large or small the brand, what their involvement was at the time.
We talked about the rise of the empathetic leader earlier. It’s one and the same with the empathetic business. When we start to go back to that sense of normal, say for example, an end of year sale, how different will your message be now that we’ve gone through COVID-19? Brands need to think about post-COVID, what are the different ways we communicate our message in a way people will remember us for.