This month I was part of the Only the Brave webinar series with my agency partner, Brilliant Noise. We talked about bravery and experimentation – the essential combination for marketing leaders to make brands survive in a post-covid-19 world. Here’s what we discussed…
How is your organisation being brave?
The time to market of ideas was brave. Normally we’re like a big ship and take forever to turn or act. Now we’re going fast. We HAD to go fast. We learned that we can go fast.
They say that to manage a crisis you need to imagine all the possible scenarios. This time that was impossible. We didn’t consider all the questions, possibilities, every unknown risk or limit. We just acted. We’ve been thinking in the morning and publishing by the afternoon.
I’m a fan of talent over process and the crisis has been the best moment to prove this – there isn’t time to apply process. A craftsman has no manual or playbooks or user manual, he just knows.
What did you experiment with?
Our experimentation has all been about creating relevant and timely content. In the first instance, this was for our employees to make sure they were safe, looked after and working in the right places – those at home and especially our heroes in the factories.
For content production we needed to think fast and act pragmatically. We couldn’t create fancy content with pre-production meetings and the usual process, it all had to be possible from our homes.
Influencers were a great opportunity. We reached out to our network – and this big network of partners and collaborators created opportunities. We gave the chefs a very loose brief (a blank canvas) and direct access to the brand channels. This was brave. It led to authentic, unscripted content and true collaboration. Sometimes people ad libbed, it was great. Although there was always someone who was worried.
What were the learnings?
Being brave and handing over control was safer and easier than we thought it would be.
We’re very lucky to have a team internally who really get content production now. Our ABCDigital marketing programme over the past couple of years meant we were prepared for this crisis and able to do our best work.
What were the challenges?
The main challenge for consumer marketing was the unknown. Decisions were made day-to-day in an organisation that’s used to making decisions six months in advance.
It was hard to act with no knowledge of the potential outcomes. We had to just experiment with hypotheses as the approach and context was new. This was a cultural shock but also a great transformation accelerator.
How has this affected how you do marketing?
Learn in the morning, create content in the early afternoon and publish before aperitivo.
To maintain this after covid-19, we’ll keep doing more faster and forget all the risks and unanswered questions our previous planning processes required. We’ll remember that if we have the talent, we don’t have to obsess over the process or waste time and miss opportunities.
Do you have any tips for others?
1. Find a partner, a co-conspirator – someone you can work with to be brave and experiment.
2. Don’t ask for permission – just act.
3. The crisis meant managers did the difficult thing of saying ‘no’. And teams could act fast and prioritise.
4. Forget your processes and trust your talent.
The bigger the organisation you’re in, the braver you have to be. Ask for permission less and just do it.