In times of crisis, it's amazing the way communities pull together. And that's true whether it is your local or professional community, as proven by Hung Lee and the Recruiting Brainfood community this month! Let me explain…
As the Covid-19 crisis unfolded in the UK and we were all growing more and more aware of what was happening on a global scale, I think many of us felt a need to do something….anything. Perhaps we didn't have the network or means though. For Hung Lee, curator of Recruiting Brainfood, the calling was much greater than the obstacles. He was able to unleash the power of his online community of recruitment professionals and pull together a 24-Hour Live stream event. The event included speakers from across the globe in strict 30-minute slots across multiple tracks. This kind of event is usually planned months in advance. Amazingly, Hung did it within the space of a couple of weeks.
Not only was it a fantastic feat, but it was also a highly valuable event for those across the industry, and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to take part, not only as a member of the community but also as one of the speakers during the event.
The marathon was about extending support to others during the crisis. From my own session, and the sessions I joined, there were some genuine light-bulb moments. I can talk about mindset, engaging remote workers, etc. (And I'd love to discuss those topics with you!) However, for the purposes of this article, here are just FIVE of the points I shared – they will be pertinent whether you're in recruitment or not.
Are you offering your clients counsel?
Immediately following lockdown, it felt like we were offering counselling services rather than marketing services! We were being asked ‘what do we do now?' ‘What does this mean for our business?' ‘Should we stop marketing?' If you read the blog that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, you will already know how I feel about that last question!
The point here is that I am constantly talking about listening to your audience, crowdsourcing ideas, etc. The Recruiting Brainfood marathon was an example of this… but on steroids! At times it felt like it was getting in the way of what I thought I had to do. On reflection, it has secured so much business for us, and it has given me content ideas that are already paying dividends for us.
Review, review, review
We've now gotten over what lockdown means for us as individuals and as businesses. We have certainty. I'm certain that the current situation in terms of my business is going to be the same until September as a minimum. So, I'm reviewing Green Umbrella content and marketing activities accordingly – you should be too. If a major announcement is made, we'll review once again to ensure that what we've already signed off is still appropriate.
I'm also reviewing the definition of ROI. I'm looking at marketing stats regularly to understand what changes are taking place and what trends we're seeing, but what ROI means and how we define it has changed.
We should all be reviewing our overall messages too. Do you need to change direction in terms of your marketing strategy? Are there campaigns that need to be put on pause or rescheduled for next month, next quarter, next year? Don't write anything off. Whatever you do, don't hit the delete button. Everything you have signed off to date is useable – just think about what tweaks can be made to protect your efforts.
What you do now will be remembered… or will it?
Stick with me on this one… from a CSR perspective, yes, what we do and how we respond will be remembered. That's especially true of big brands and the thought leader billionaires in existence. I also think that it's a very true statement in regard to the positive things that businesses are doing, such as turning over production lines to manufacture PPE or products required by the NHS.
For those who are being seen in a way that is less favourable right now – will we remember? I might be about to offer an unpopular opinion, but I doubt it! Examples I gave during my session included Wetherspoons and Sports Direct. Their reputations have been severely tainted, but once we're out of lockdown and we're in our new normal, there will be people who just want a cheap pint! They may be disgusted with Wetherspoons as a brand now, but that's where they will be socialising and spending their money. The same goes for Sports Direct, will you avoid them when you're looking for cheap trainers in a year's time?
Think back a couple of years – remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal and ongoing privacy issues Facebook has encountered? Right now, daily active users of the social network are skyrocketing. This is where many are getting their news from (rightly or wrongly is a different discussion), and there has been barely a whisper in terms of people distrusting Facebook as a brand.
However, it is different when you think locally – you can do more damage on a local level if you make the wrong decisions. When you are part of a closed community or on someone's doorstep, the positives and negatives are received far more personally. So, as a marketer ensure you shout about the good stuff you and your people are doing. This is true of your contacts as well. There is nothing wrong with promoting someone else's greatness when it's ‘on message'!
We're all human – now is the time of transparency
‘Authentic'… that's a word that has been over-used in the last couple of years by members of the marketing community! But right now, authentic and transparent are our only options! At Green Umbrella Marketing we're used to having a steady stream of clients visiting and getting to know the real us. That's something we've missed during lockdown, so we took it online! Every Thursday at 12noon, we live stream our lunch break. It's a bit of chit-chat nonsense with some nuggets of information and insight coming to the fore! Our clients buy into us, that gets cemented by their in-person interactions with us, so this is the next best thing. The value in it comes from still being able to let our audience see us, and by maintaining a level of loyalty in terms of people still having that contact with us.
Go back to your Marketing basics
Carrying on from the previous point, what we've really done is gone back to basics.
We've thought about who our avatar is, thought about those personas that exist as well as our stakeholders. We've considered what value they need… What can we give them right now? The answer was linked to creating a feeling of community. It is about offering tips along the way to help them stay in the game. It's about the advice and guidance as much as it is about the company. And we've been able to do that with ultimate transparency. Our audience witness the banter between us as a team, they see that as a team, we're together, stronger than ever, and they also start to become part of the in-jokes. It's the ultimate creation of a community or tribe. That's something we should all have been trying to achieve prior to the crisis!
I shared far more than the five points above during my 30-minute session, and although the audience was recruitment based, I'd suggest the content is just as relevant for those outside of the sector too. You can watch the recording via the event on Crowdcast, or via the Green Umbrella YouTube channel, I'd love for you to watch it and let me know what you think!