How to keep your marketing communications front of house during and after COVID-19: Time to reassess your approach

It’s going to take a while for things to get back to usual following the coronavirus pandemic – that’s if the world ever fully reverts to life before lockdown. From now on will everyone carry antibacterial hand sanitizer, advise friends and loved ones to stay two meters apart when unwell, and indeed will shaking hands and hugging generally become a far less frequent occurrence?

That remains to be seen, but what is for sure is that ‘normal’ feels a long way away right now – and businesses don’t and probably won’t have appetite to spend the tens and thousands of dollars on communications every month they once did.

It’s time to be realistic and think smarter

Many businesses are in the same boat at present and will be post-COVID-19. They have an incumbent communications agency on a large fee-based retainer and having worked hard to map out their marketing campaigns for the year ahead now find themselves in a situation where they just don’t know at what point they will be able to get back into the swing of things.

The problem with fee-based agencies is you’re never exactly sure what you are getting for your money. A lot of process and reporting, but what about metrics and deliverables? So if you halve the fees, what do you get?

Start asking your agency for deliverables and charges for these – that way you can begin to plan a communications campaign that is half the cost but delivers precisely what you need.

It’s here where a dynamic agency that can rapidly provide support holds significant value. An agency that charges for deliverables, rather than by the hour as commonly associated with incumbents, not only guarantees results but has the unique benefit of helping businesses refocus their media campaigns to adapt to unforeseen circumstances such as the one we find ourselves in today.

Staying on track short term doesn’t require five-figure sums

Constrained marketing budgets shouldn’t automatically mean that good ideas, time and energy have gone to waste – it’s a case of determining what marketing efforts should take priority and working out which can be feasibly carried out.

It could well require working closely with a new agency on a ‘deliverables delivered’ and no-strings-attached basis for a set period. A business can later decide how they want to move forward with their communications strategy – but in the meantime can satisfy their marketing objectives.

Deliverables may include a set amount of thought leadership in the form of articles and blogs, or ensuring that a product launch or partnership announcement is distributed to target media in press release format, with follow-up for interview opportunities accounted for as part of the agreement. And of course, underpinning these with appropriate social media support would be a must.

Whether it’s bylined thought leadership or a partnership announcement, this can then be amplified across a company’s preferred social media channels to generate additional buzz – perhaps as part of weekly social content that a company commits to.

Saves costs and get results

A smaller but targeted campaign made up of a blend and consistent level of communications activity will ensure a business can maintain and even enhance their market presence during and after COVID-19. Creating patterns of media activity conveys business strength and leadership to existing customers – and serves to entice potential prospects. A targeted campaign will demonstrate a business is there to support their customers during these unprecedented times as well as on a long-term basis.

This doesn’t require masses amounts of media activity – it could just be a couple of blogs a month, followed by a case study the next, all with ongoing social activity as a recurring deliverable in the background.

Focus on the now

Here at IBA we pride ourselves on our low-cost but high-speed service delivered from a central hub. We have a track record of delivering results on a global scale for our clients even in volatile times. If your business is looking for support to earn credible, instant wins in the media and wants to get up and running quickly, then get in touch and find out how we can help you today.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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