Pick your quote: “Necessity is the mother of invention”. “Adversity is the first path to truth”. “When the going gets tough”.
The point is there’s a reason why big problems demand big solutions. We are all now faced with an unprecedented, uncertain economic landscape. The temptation is to stand still, but history doesn’t remember fondly those who rolled over when faced with challenges. In fact, it doesn’t remember them at all.
What does history show us? Sliced bread took off in an Economic Recession. The Moon Landings took place in the middle of the last Cold War. Our modern surgical techniques, which save countless lives today, were refined on the battlefields of two World Wars in the last century. In bad situations, human history shows individuals stepping up to innovate and make life better.
Marketing strategy isn’t a life or death situation, but problems create new opportunities for those that look for them.
From one perspective, the current economic recession makes next quarter’s turnover uncertain. So perhaps it would be prudent to conserve spending until everything is over. From another, trying to predict when the current uncertainty will end is futile. If so, when everyone else is standing still and competition is at its lowest is the perfect time to make your move. Which is your favoured strategy?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Despite the best intentions, playing it safe rarely moves the needle. Most business decisions are calculated risks. According to a study conducted in 1993, the chance of a coin landing on its edge when flipped is one in 6000. Those are bad odds, but not as bad as the chance of it landing on its edge if left flat on a table. A big fat zero.
The probability of a start-up being funded, surviving more than five years, becoming a category leader, breaking into the NASDAQ, NYSE or FTSE 100, and becoming one of the top 10 most profitable companies is low. Some say as low as 0.08% in the US and lower still in EMEA. Oh, that was before the current recession.
Whatever the numbers though, entropy is the enemy of innovation. The fact is those who won took calculated risks and kept going when others did not. This is worth remembering when planning your PR and marketing. Establishing a brand and share of voice takes time, a lot of hard work and some considered brain power to break through the noise.
Experience meets boldness
Warren Buffet is credited with saying, “Reputation can take a lifetime to build, and five minutes to lose.” Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum and adopting the same strategy post-downturn as before because that’s ‘how things are done’ is illogical. We are lucky to work with some innovative companies that are embracing new opportunities and making bold statements when many others are remaining silent.
My Digital is a disruptive accountancy software company that has launched its new Category of Quantum Employment Design. This is helping businesses manage the smallest and most incremental measurement of work – cost per hour, logged on a timesheet – sometimes across multiple employers. We developed their POV, drafted copy for their website, assisted in their rebrand and launched their category and new product suite to market with a raft of coverage in key industry media.
Marketing teams need to continuously explore new opportunities, create novel ways to join the conversations happening in the real world and empathise with the plight of their customers and their customers’ customers. This is the tricky part – it takes the right combination of seasoned experience and youthful enthusiasm to make bold moves and explore new opportunities.
For one collaboration technology client, we have achieved this by regularly inserting its unique opinions into topical news stories. Following momentum from a major category launch, it gains both kudos and column inches by regularly questioning the status quo of monolithic technology companies, while championing a more open, privacy-focused internet.
Marketing & PR thrive when there are new problems to solve, innovative ideas to offer and fresh conversations to start. It is a fertile ground for experimenting with concepts and seeing how they are received and assessed in the real world.
Expert partners, like Positive, know how to get across the uniqueness of your brand to the world in a way that emphasises your credibility and positions you as the right company to solve an existing problem. We are also harsh critics of the ‘same ole, same ole’. As the Dalai Lama said, “Know the rules so you can break them.”