We’ve been hearing for months about the new normal, but many of us are still guilty of thinking “when things return to normal…” in the back of our minds. Let’s rip the bandaid off together.
There is no return to normal. This is it.
We’re at the beginning of our new normal.
The road to recovery is guaranteed not to be direct or paved. But there are two things you can do to help insulate against potholes. The first is starting early; after the financial crisis in 2008, companies in the top fifth in performance were ahead of their peers by 20 percentage points in the recovery period. Eight years later that lead jumped to 150 percentage points. The second thing is creating marketing efficiencies. We’re all doing more with less resources, it’s critical that we’re using the best and fastest methods and not wasting another resource: time.
We can create marketing efficiency by focusing recovery efforts on three ideas:
- Reimagining processes
- Rebuilding revenue
- Rethinking the future of work
Start by framing problems as opportunities to improve and do better. We were all forced to adopt new processes and work-arounds to accommodate remote working. And honestly? Some of the new ones are a lot better.
A guiding force for reimagining our outmoded processes will be agility. It’s a topic marketers have circled around for years, but been slow to truly implement because it’s not an overnight fix. Now we have the opportunity to push necessary change through. And achieving marketing efficiency is hard to imagine without incorporating at least some aspects of agile methodology. We’ve already accepted so many changes to our routines, what’s one more? Especially when it comes with promises of faster results and a happier team. Marketers are generally jumping from one task to the next – what would it feel like to start and wrap big impact projects in two weeks? Pretty amazing.
It’s now or never. This is a chance to lock-in and scale crisis-era changes that yielded positive results. Evaluate what worked, identify what doesn’t, update the process accordingly, and then – this is so important – communicate to the team exactly what the new process is. Whether it’s the entirely new or a blend of old and new, make sure the whole team is on the same page.
There are a couple options for devising a plan to rebuild revenue. One is deceptively simple and the other requires complex scenario planning. Both realize marketing efficiency by prioritizing focus and resources.
In the majority of cases, revenue has taken a dip (or potentially a nosedive) since March. It’s easy to think of reasons why this occurred, but what we should be focusing on is the revenue that did come in during this time. Stop thinking “why did that go wrong” and start thinking “why did that work?”. If something you did resonated with buyers even in the midst of a crisis, identify that and build on it.
Another approach to rebuilding revenue according to McKinsey, is to begin with a clear starting point and an understanding of demand patterns across channels. The next step is mapping actions against possible impact and timing scenarios, then choosing a course of action that makes sense for your organization.
Either way you choose to go, the next step is outlining targets. Reusing old targets is setting yourself up for failure. Think about what is realistic to expect given the size of your team, your competitors, and your addressable market to define targets for the new reality.
Rethinking the Future of Work
The shift to digital was happening long before COVID-19, but it certainly accelerated the timeline. This was happening across industries thanks to Industry 4.0 and the revolution of digitization in manufacturing. Digital, automation, and technology is the future of work and the sooner we embrace it, the sooner we will start seeing results. There are a number of platforms you can start using to help your marketing team collaborate efficiently. The 2020 edition of the marketing technology landscape has an astounding 8,000 martech solutions. If you have a marketing problem, there’s a good chance the solution exists somewhere on that map.
Don’t forget the trifecta of people, process and technology. Once you find the tech to solve your main problem, don’t let other problems spring up by not locking down the right process, with the right people, to provide a new path forward.
The future of work calls into question policies on remote working – do people have to return to an office? Is productivity measured in optics or impact?
Life is different now, but that’s ok because we’re framing problems as opportunities for improvement. Working remotely was helpful for many parents to juggle caregiving duties, and it will be again when childcare and schools re-open. Remote work also widens the pool of candidates to fill a role when hiring picks up. Then there are the night owls who simply perform better in their roles when they can work evenings. There are many opportunities to increase efficiency by allowing more flexibility.
This spring has seen some of the most difficult times for us, challenging our personal and professional lives simultaneously. These next few months are about rebuilding what was broken. We can be better and stronger than before by leaning into change and turning our problems into opportunities.