One of the golden rules in any crisis situation is to start planning for recovery as soon as that crisis begins.
To be overwhelmed by the initial onslaught of problems and the unprecedented challenges now being faced worldwide is natural.
We must, however, have an understanding of the strategies to use in order to survive a crisis and thrive at the end. In the paper, Roaring Out of Recession, the authors studied the strategy selection and corporate performance of 4,700 public companies during three global recessions: 1980 to 1982, 1990 to 1991, and 2000 to 2002.
They found that of companies that survive a recession, about 80% take more than three years to regain their pre-recession growth rates for sales and profits. Just 9% of them flourish after a slowdown, doing better on key financial parameters than they had done before and outperforming rivals in their industry by at least 10% in terms of sales and profit growth.
Out of all strategies, the one with the greatest likelihood of producing post-recession winners: a combination of improving operational efficiency (rather than slashing the number of employees relative to peers), and developing new business opportunities by making significantly greater investments than rivals do in R&D and marketing.
There are two phases to consider at the current time:
Phase one – Pre-recovery phase – continuity with customer conversations and innovation
COVID-19 has stopped the ability to carry out many traditional marketing and communications activities. Keep your customer and industry conversations going and innovate with ideas such as:
Training: Invest in training time for industry partners, consider webinars, live-streaming training sessions or creating new digital training services.
Digital PR: Switching your focus to digital PR and comms, more people will be consuming online media.
Timely ideas: Check what information the industry media can use during this time. They may be focusing on supporting people through the crisis like this lovely example from Conde Nast Italy. They may need news for round-ups, picture galleries, or longer-lead stories for events or activities later in the year.
Consider Q&A slots, profiles or opinion opportunities throughout industry media sections.
Set up online briefings or interviews: Consider setting up phone or skype briefing meetings with your leaders to explain major initiatives so the media or trade hear from you personally at this time, not just through email.
Consider long-lead needs: Consider print titles with longer lead times, which need to plan three months ahead.
Keep talking: Keep your social media conversations scheduled. People don’t want to be ignored. In China, social media platforms like Douyin (the Chinese version of Tik Tok) and Kuaishou reported social media use increased by 30 per cent during January and February.
Listen to your audience concerns and questions and answer them in the social channels where they are being asked. Consider Throwback Thursday discussions to thank them and ask them to share their thoughts/memories/experiences.
Share yourself: One of the common google searches in Wuhan during the lockdown was looking for things to do to engage and overcome boredom.
Give your global audiences something that will help them even if you cannot welcome them now. If shows have been cancelled can you create a mini online version instead with galleries and review videos or comment with industry relevance?
Phase two – full recovery, a hard fight for audiences
Once the crisis is clearly over there will be a full recovery period where B2B and B2C audiences are being targeted by brands eager to build back their economies and cashflow.
This period will be the most competitive by far. It will also undoubtedly be a different marketplace. While some businesses will fail, the full recovery period will see the emergence of new nimble players looking to take advantage of the changes.
Do spend time now preparing in detail for phase two even when you don’t know the timing of your recovery plans. What events might you create, what marketing will you implement.
Have creative campaigns at the ready which can be trialled digitally and switched on quickly. Also, use this time to review how to build a sustainable recovery strategy which builds back audiences but mitigates negative impacts.
It’s difficult times indeed for businesses but with planning, the damage can be limited. It’s imperative that businesses create a positive platform for when normality starts to return, which it most certainly will.
We hope this has nudged your thoughts and we are here to extend the conversation.