Vasso Vassiliou Managing Director

In these ‘unprecedented’ times, let’s keep things simple.

It was another one of those lockdown nights, after at least 10 hours in front of my laptop. Not surprisingly, it was hard to discipline myself to “close” for the day and “go home”, since I was already home almost 24/7. Until finally, I am convinced that I’ve done enough for the day and decide to switch to the bigger screen to watch the new season of Casa de Papel. Spoiler alert! I was at the part where Gandia points the gun at Nairobi, but I pay little attention to it. I was certain they will not be taking Nairobi out of the show. And yet, the unthinkable happens! Gandia pulls the trigger and shoots her right in the middle of her forehead. And just like that, “poof!” she dies. 

“Out of nowhere, a name we have never heard before, came to claim our lives.”

Spoiling the episode is not the reason I’m writing this, nor is my utter shock at how quickly and easily Nairobi ‘left’ the show. The extraordinary here is that the first thing that came to my mind the minute Nairobi was killed, was that this is exactly what coronavirus has done to us. Out of nowhere, a name we have never heard before, came to claim our lives.

 Unlike previous financial crisis the world went through, this is so much more, affecting everything from healthcare down to supplies, and from finance down to marketing. Looking at it from the marketing point of view, since I am in the advertising field, I feel that just like Gandia,
COVID-19 is pointing the gun on us, the brand leaders, strategists, marketeers, copywriters, media planners, content managers, threatening us to connect with our audience, or die just as fast!  

“Being relevant is not an option anymore but a requirement.

As marketeers, we say that the future of a brand depends on connecting with your consumer in a relevant mannerThe difference though, is that being relevant’ today, is not a “best practice advice” but a “vaccine for survivability”. Being relevant is not an option anymore but a requirement. How to talk to our audience, where to talk to them, what to say and how fast we do that -these are vital points. Advertisers need to completely rethink ad strategies, both in terms of creative messaging and in terms of media mix and usage. 

“Do we know how to get in front of our consumers and have an honest conversation?”

According to Google, one of COVID-19’s effects in people’s behaviour, is the exponential growth in the number of people searching for the word “unprecedented.”  

Yes, this is an “unprecedented” situation and we must treat it with the relevant caution and seriousness. But do we know how to get in front of our consumers and have an honest conversation in a manner that feels native and speaks to their heartwithout pushing too many messages and becoming overwhelmingAnd this, in a time when as shoppers and as viewers we have been forced to stay home, not by choice but to protect our lives. This, on top of the frustration that we felt even before the coronavirus, with constant interruptions by endless nonrelevant ads. 

Research suggests that it takes 66 days for new habits to form. So how do we know how much to spend on communication messages and what to say in these messages, when awe know we are moving out of this situation, but b) we don’t know what is here to stay?  

“Too many opinions and ‘expertise’ floating around”

So many questions in so little time. Simultaneouslytoo many opinions and expertise are floating around creating chaos and confusion. This causes me, both aa business owner and as an advertiser, uneasiness and anxiety. So, I decidto pause, take some deep breaths, and accept that if there is one thing this situation has taught me, is that we have very little control of things in this world. So why worry, stress, or even panic over what is beyond us? Why not just keep things simple?

“…to stay relevant, start by answering these key questions”

In marketing, thank God, some things are quite simple. They narrow down to the fundamentals of the 4 Ps, so to stay relevant, start by answering these key questions:    

1.What is your product and what role does it play in solving your consumer’s problem right now?  

2.What is your price? Is it adjusted according to market demand but without abusing this demand and disrespecting your customer? Because remember, consumers don’t forget, nor do they forgive. 

3.Where is your product placed? With an acceleration in the digital activity, the social media usage and ecommerce adoption, where does your brand fit in 

4.How are you promoting your brand? Are you true to your brand values, are you empathetic and understanding to your consumer needs and do you provide safety for them to come back?   

…keep things simple”

To all brand leaders and marketeers out there, who just like me, may be spending hours and hours stressing over the decisions that need to be made, I say, let’s look at things from a positive outlook. Today is an opportunity to improve our relationship with our consumers and more so, an opportunity to connect with new ones. And yes, we will do that, as fast as we can, not because it is our job but because it is our passion.  

But let’s not forget, in these ‘unprecedented’ timeswe don’t control everything. So perhaps the best course to keep ourselves sane, may be to keep things simple.