The light at the end of the very long tunnel has just come into view and it seems that some form of normality is going to return at a point in the near-ish future (hopefully). As many have suggested, this is likely to be a new normal, the ripple effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown will likely be seen and felt for years to come. This is true across all sectors and the marketing industry is no exception.

Over the last few months there have been differing levels of impact across sectors and industries. Lots have been devastatingly affected, others have managed to keep heads above water and then in some cases others have flourished.

At Cobb Digital we hope to learn from every experience be it a good or bad one. Here are four learnings I will be taking into the new normal.

Prepare and adapt for different scenarios

Few people believed that a virus would impact daily life in such a big way. I certainly didn’t. As we saw the lockdown restrictions applied across Europe, we started to think about how we could adjust and incorporate different strategies for the clients that were going to be significantly impacted. This proved difficult because, in some instances, the strategies which were being used were tried and tested, and had proven successful time and again. It was essential to adapt, however, as lockdown restrictions meant individuals were physically unable to do specific things e.g. attend stores/clinics/locations/attractions, there was no way we could achieve these goals for some time, so we had to adapt to the situation. For some clients we prepared up to three different strategies based on the lockdown scenarios; 1. complete lockdown 2. partial Lockdown 3. business as usual. By doing this it allowed us to strategise different eventualities and discuss how each of these situations were different from one another. We were able to share these with clients and discuss the merits of each. Whilst this was far from an ideal circumstances it highlighted that we were invested in our clients and their success.

Whilst it’s impossible to hypothesise for every huge event or change in society, it is prudent for marketers to think about their product/ service or client and think how they might adapt to a differing set of circumstances which make the usual route to market difficult.

Changing the goalposts

Goals and KPIs are fundamental to every marketing strategy or campaign. They’re essential as, in the simplest terms, they let you or a client know whether what you’re doing is effective.

As with the first takeaway, COVID 19 has severely impacted many campaign objectives as they became impossible to achieve. At this point it became crucial that new KPIs or goals were incorporated to be able to demonstrate whether new approaches were working effectively. For some clients it was easy to promote secondary objectives, but we’ve also created entirely new ones. This has been incredibly important as it allowed us, and the client, to understand what new success looks like, but has also helped us stay on track on a day-to-day basis against a backdrop of daily change.

Connectivity and collaboration

The UK saw a 947% increase in call time on Zoom from January – April according to Star Leaf. Whilst digital agencies were perhaps used to this format more than some others, there’s no doubt that it has become used far more frequently over the last few months, this is certainly the case for us. Client catch ups, kick offs and presentations have all been efficient with very little value being lost, in fact it often seems that meetings are punchier and more efficient as a result. This is the case for internal regroups and brainstorms as well. Whilst there is of course value in physical meetings, we will be taking these learnings into the new normal and utilising virtual meetings where possible.

Remember (and learn from) the experience

My biggest takeaway from the experience is the experience. Hopefully, this isn’t going to happen for a long time again but if it or something similar does, we can try and draw on the lessons learnt, and to help mediate some of the anxiety and worry which was disabling business at the outset.