BusinessDesk is proud to publish The Reset series, made in association with our trusted commercial partners and designed to supercharge your business in 2021. In this article, Dean Taylor, founder and CEO of integrated creative and media agency, Contagion looks at why an agile marketing plan is critical for business success this year.

Covid is a major concern for Kiwi businesses, but it also presents them with a massive opportunity to come out the other side stronger and better future-proofed.

As a marketing and communications strategist for over 25 years, I’ve worked with many companies forced to innovate to survive exceptional times.  

The truth in business is that we must do the very best with the cards we are dealt. Covid undoubtedly took us all by surprise, and based on the recent survey conducted with BusinessDesk, it continues to loom large over many decisions we make. 

In 2020, it was the agile companies that succeeded.  This year, it will be the prepared companies that thrive. It’s often said that being lucky is simply where preparation and opportunity meet. From our perspective, there will be a surge in the number of prosperous companies coming out of New Zealand.  To help achieve this status, here is our checklist for being prepared in a post-covid world: 

Digital transformation

If you have any ability to get your e-commerce sorted, move at “Captain Kirk speed”. Last year, I advised a couple of great CEOs who prioritised this and it absolutely supercharged their operations. Nowadays, consumers are not asking, “Should I do this digitally?”, they are asking, “Is there any reason to do this in person?” Where is your business on that continuum to serve these needs? 

Brisbane has just come out of another lockdown, so we are fortunate here to see the potential future play out and the best way to plan ahead. It is highly likely that lockdowns will be a reality in some form in New Zealand in 2021 and our research has shown genuine business concern about this.

Brand story and product offering

Think about how you reframe your offering and crystalise your brand story. What is your higher cause that your staff and consumers can really believe in? As we saw from 2020 attitude shifts, community, belonging, and a sense of civic duty are huge. Now more than ever, people will remember what you say, they will certainly remember what you do, and they will never forget how you made them feel. How can you lift emotion so your products and services really matter? 

A worthwhile exercise is to think of not just what you are selling, but what people are actually buying. For example, during lockdown, sales of books, board games and traditional toys soared. People weren’t just buying books; they were buying new best friends. And they weren’t just buying board games and toys, but trying new ways of getting their family to bond. Seeking that higher cause can help to galvanise ideas about where your business needs to go.

We have seen sales of luxury cars going through the roof and bach rentals and sales of outdoor gear and boats hitting record levels. Consumers not only have extra cash because they can’t travel overseas, but they also have a lot more time on their hands due to video-calling apps such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom making it easy for them to work remotely. People literally have 10-15 hours back in their week and a whole lot more time with the family. They are buying on a new set of reframed needs. How can your business serve these?

Made for New Zealand

Local is the new hero and businesses that champion the Kiwi cause will be suitably rewarded. Look at the great work ASB is doing for small business; I bet the bank’s scores with consumers are going through the roof. Give an outward showing of support for your community and make sure others know about it. What you give, you will receive back.

Future proofing

On a purely practical note, make sure any communications you have planned consider scenarios to ensure they remain relevant if we go back into level 3 or even 4. Millions of dollars were pulled from advertising channels last year due to sensitivity; let’s not see that again. If you don’t have a view of your communication plan yet, now is the time to be formulating.  

Secure your sales funnel

If having a compelling and inspirational brand story is “necessary religion” at the top of your marketing funnel, then having digital sorted at the bottom is “required weaponry”. How is your SEO and SEM search performing? (If you are unsure of these terms, drop me an email.) You want consumers to not only find you first, but also to be doing it by the truckload every hour of every day. The great thing about digital marketing is that it never, ever sleeps.

I have been seeing businesses over the past nine months that would not usually seek advice, but they are getting ahead by understanding the present context and how it will affect their businesses. What is clear is that plans due in 3-5 years are now happening in 3-5 months and that is a very sobering thought indeed. 

Dean Taylor is the CEO of Contagion, an integrated marketing, strategy, creative and media agency. His core interest lies in anthropology and sociology and he has developed highly successful advertising campaigns for many clients who believe in a higher cause. Dean is passionate about the success of New Zealand business and the effect this will have on a better future together.

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