Beyond business as usual: Marketing in the face of the extraordinary

Jess Duarte / April 2020

In times of uncertainty, no one has all the answers. It’s not easy, but several brands around the region are doing their best to make things work during this period. As the global situation continues to evolve, here in APAC, we are beginning to see the results of early pivoting of business goals and communication strategies. Successful marketers are shifting their business-as-usual mindsets to lead in times of complexity. To help others navigate unexpected challenges, we spoke to top APAC marketers to learn how they’re providing valuable leadership during this unprecedented moment.

1. Content marketing steps up to fill the events gap

TwG_APAC_Covid-19_Inline_ShaifaliNathan (2).png

A large part of our go-to-market strategy includes organizing events to engage B2B marketers. In the current scenario, when hosting physical events is a health and safety risk, we’ve had to cancel a large number of them, just like many other businesses. Instead, we've turned to content marketing as a scaled engagement channel to ensure our audience remains informed. We are also using content marketing to equip other businesses that are in the same situation as ourselves, with tools and resources to navigate these uncertain times.

2. Use this time to invest in yourself

TwG_APAC_Covid-19_Inline_MirandaDimopoulos (1).png

At the IAB SEA and India, we have adapted our goals for our 2020 business strategy to accelerate initiatives that can successfully unite our members during increased social distancing.

We’ve embraced teleconferencing to ensure our regional board, committees, working groups, and interest groups (the driving force behind the development of key industry resources) remain connected. We’ve also prioritized initiatives such as online certification from H2 to Q2, to ensure a strong pipeline of talent.

It is essential for businesses not to have a knee-jerk reaction to halt investment — whether in spend or in people — to help sustain the digital ecosystem in the near and distant future. As industries across the board come to terms with their new normal, we are launching a free Digital Fundamentals training course for anyone looking to upskill or re-skill for a new career in the digital industry.

Just as we are seeing green shoots of regeneration across Australia after the tragedy of the recent bushfires, we will emerge from this chaos, renewed and refocused, united by our kampung spirit.

3. Speak from the heart — show your customers you care

TwG_APAC_Covid-19_Inline_BillyTurchin (1).png

At its heart, the travel industry is fundamentally about people serving people. While people are not currently traveling, the principles of caring for others still remain. We’ve been proud of the engagement of our colleagues in supporting frontline medical staff and families impacted by the crisis.

We recognize that this is not the right time to present customers with traditional marketing messages. It’s also not the right time to go completely dark and cease communications.

We wanted to find an opportunity to speak with customers in a positive and meaningful way. We didn’t want to just have some generic “we’re with you” sort of messaging that lacks substance. So we’ve been proud to use this opportunity to share stories of community engagement and social responsibility being undertaken around the world. There is no marketing hook, no call to action — just humanity. And it’s wonderful to see that these have been some of our most widely liked and shared pieces of content.

4. Communicate across silos and stay nimble

TwG_APAC_Covid-19_Inline_AlexKwan (1).png

We’re in a unique position: not only do we have businesses relying on our on-demand delivery services, we also have our driver partners who make these deliveries possible every day. Our main priority is to ensure their safety isn’t compromised and that their concerns are heard.

We had to quickly adapt our communications strategy to convey various incentives devised by our city teams to support our driver partners and our small- and medium-sized customers during this tough time. Coordination and open communication across the entire company is extremely important. We also ensure that we keep our ear to the ground, listening to customer sentiment, so we can react accordingly and remain agile.

Crisis marketing: How brands are addressing the coronavirus