Going about our business, where we can

Spinning and winning

We’re now a good two weeks into a very rare experience indeed. A lockdown not seen since what I have heard was the Polio outbreak in the late 1940’s. As the grandson of a polio victim who recovered I sense (without authority) a symbiotic response to this latest global, yet local challenge. Little old New Zealand takes these moments seriously. We’re capable of doing a good job whatever the new normal looks like. Time will tell in business and in the community how things play out of course. However, it seems like we have a good handle on what’s required. That’s a great sign for the next period of inevitable disruption – and not the kind that is fashionable to talk about. If any country is well placed to be resilient to external forces, it’s probably island nations like us that quietly go about their business. Which is the key point. Let’s continue to go about our business, where we can. It will count.

Six months in a leaky boat

Brian Timothy Finn said it. But let’s avoid the leaky boat concept altogether. Our last commentary focused on communication. Nothing has changed in the past two weeks, other than the constant need to keep in communication with all of the players in your business. Connecting with the team with transparency and openness is the order of the day.

Of the clients we’ve been in touch with over the past fortnight there is a real sense of wanting to ‘get this lockdown done and then quickly move forward’. The last thing that any business needs is a sense of medium term nervousness, even though a lot of tough decisions are either being made now or are on the horizon. It’s a challenging time for company culture as well, as many communications to the people are about reductions of hours, or worse. The companies that live their values now will be the ones that deserve success in the future. It has been quite fascinating to see how some of the larger listed companies have responded. We sense that culture can fall out the window when external pressures affect these monsters. Seems to be coming true.

Team is good. Build that team

So here’s what we’re thinking, doing and talking to our clients about. Apologies if it’s repetitive. Use this time to pull your team together. Building good connections should be one of your main priorities. The tensions may be running high for a bunch of reasons, but try to balance the art of keeping business as normal and productive as possible, whilst trying to manage the realities that we are working through new challenges. Some people say ‘unprecedented times’. We think it’s a recalibration and an opportunity. But the key is to look after your people, make them feel valued and a part of the future.

What we’re doing – Anneri’s view

Charles Darwin said it best. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” We’re aiming to do our best in a challenging comms environment – imagine if we were all sending faxes to each other! So since it’s 2020, every morning we have a virtual catch up. We talk about our families and flat mates. Stories, videos and even memes are shared. This helps us keep our social connection with each other. We’ve even recently introduced an online trivia game so that Richie can show his age. He remains the champion of trivia.

Then we get into the planning for the day. We understand we each play our part in getting stuff done. Running through a quick priority list for the day gets everyone focused. We stick to identifying and delivering a few daily goals. We mention roadblocks (to be solved offline) and then we’re off. Informal check-ins happen constantly throughout the day. Instant messenger has been such a blessing for this. Celebrating small wins or flagging frustration with funny GIFS keeps the humour flowing and things moving. But ultimately we’re testing a new way of working and this needs trial and occasional error. We’re learning as many of our clients are too.

Don’t stop marketing your wares

Mark Ritson is a bloody clever marketer. We like his insights and in these times it’s worth thinking about how you are looking after your brand in these moments. It may seem like a paradox, but recessionary periods actually provide fertile grounds for marketers to grow their brand’s market share if they’re prepared to think long-term, according to Mark in his latest very readable article.

Some of the key outtakes we noted include:

  • Those companies that grow their advertising spend during a recession tend to do better over all as they take the market share of those who cut back, and then there is a retraction of competition, so they move ahead when things are good.  
  • “Most firms tend to cut back on advertising during a recession. This behaviour reduces noise and increases the effectiveness of advertising of any single firm that advertises. Thus, the firm that increases advertising in this environment can enjoy higher sales and market share. When the economy expands, all firms tend to increase advertising. At that point, no single firm gains much by that increase. The gains of the firms that maintained or increased advertising during a recession, however, persist. This theory is also the most reasonable explanation for all the empirical effects of GDP on advertising and of advertising on sales, market share and profitability. It is also a simple, but strong, refutation of the theory for cutting back on advertising during a recession.”
  • Most estimates suggest advertising investment is likely to be reduced by between 30% and 60% over the rest of 2020 and beyond. Marketing Week’s latest survey suggests that around 90% of marketing budgets have been delayed or are under review. That’s terrifying news if you work in advertising, media or marketing services. But it will be music to the ears of a small bunch of superior marketers. A select few are preparing a tactical move that could set them and their brands up for the next decade.
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Operating with uncertainty

We’ve all been here before, a little too recently. 2020 taught us how to set up our offices at home and made a lot of us proficient at Zoom calls. But, even with the familiarity, there’s a little Delta variant tension creeping in, with uncertainty over when exactly this lockdown will end.

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