Returning to the Fundamentals Post-COVID-19

Things were so much easier pre-pandemic. Businesses were in growth-mode, clients were stable and marketing programs were humming along. But then COVID-19 upended everything. While the world’s trying to figure out the “new normal,” it’s a good time for marketers to take a step back and focus on the fundamentals.

We’re talking about basic marketing principles that seem to go on autopilot in times of growth. Organizations who take this opportunity to return to the basics will be in a better position to not only survive the epidemic, but to emerge even stronger. Here are six fundamentals you should be focusing on.

  1. Nurture existing clients.
    Instead of lead generation and hunting for new clients, focus on current clients and seeking revenue from people you already know. Deepen these relationships, and drive value into them that clients weren’t expecting. Especially in the B2B and Services spaces, finding new ways to show up for key clients, and adopting account-based marketing strategies, positions your organization to be the “true partner” that you’ve wanted to be for the last 10 years, as your clients have likely been distracted by growth as well. Think about how you communicate with these clients, how you can expand what you have to offer them and how you can improve the experience of what it’s like for them to work with you, and you’ll remain top of mind and the preferred provider.
  2. Create a differentiated experience.
    In the consumer market, shortages are forcing people to try new brands. These consumers will see firsthand whether or not a brand is truly different. And consumers will be experiencing loads of new brands because the channels they’ve previously used have shifted. To maintain loyalty, brands across all categories will have to work harder to create differentiation in their product or service experience. Any rough spots – like over- or under-communicating, bad support, invoicing/pricing issues, etc. – will put them at risk. Little things like this add up to either foster or diminish a differentiated experience.
  3. Measure satisfaction.
    It’s surprising how many organizations do not conduct true client satisfaction programs. In fact, many don’t know their clients are unhappy until they leave. Regular, third-party research across all clients helps identify where you need to make improvements. Plus, you’ll have the data to draw conclusions on what drives higher client satisfaction — critical in times of uncertainty like today. If you can’t work with a third-party, there are lots of options for taking the temperature of your clients and customers in everyday marketing activities – you just have to look for them.
  4. Be personal and attentive.
    Clients want to feel like you understand them. Rather than send mass communications, use hyper-personalized communications, targeted to a handful of companies or segments. Taking it a step further, restructure your organization into client-based teams. You’ll deepen relationships and create a more unified experience.
  5. Don’t just survive. Thrive.
    Organizations should always be innovating, even now. How can you do something different? Or show up in a new way? At One North, we’re looking at new services we can offer clients that we haven’t before. For example, some of our clients are struggling with how to handle events during quarantine. Given our digital fluency, we’re able to offer creative ideation and alternatives to consider. Who knows? Maybe this will become a new service we provide. Every business has similar opportunities for innovation – now more than ever, it’s important to stop leaning on business-as-usual.
  6. Remember the golden rule.
    Many organizations are having to reduce their workforce and cut salaries. What employees will remember is the way they and their colleagues were treated. It can have a lasting impact on your brand. Be supportive and kind. Eventually, you’ll need to hire talent back.

Final thoughts
As we enter this next phase of the pandemic, it’s still difficult to predict the future or know for sure what the new normal will look like. However, by focusing on the fundamentals, you can ensure your clients and employees feel appreciated, supported and understood. The more value you can provide, the more loyalty you’ll get – and that will help you endure any crisis.


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Kalev Peekna Managing Director, Chief Strategist

Kalev Peekna is the Chief Strategist at One North, leading the Digital Strategy team. He brings a cross-platform, user-focused approach to innovations in brand development, design, data analysis and technology, and helps clients apply those innovations to their strategic aims.

  • If I were a vegetable: I would be broccoli. Because I have always wanted someone to call me “cruciferous.” 
  • Most unusual job: Cocktail bartender at a Cabaret
Ryan Schulz Managing Director, Experience Design

As Managing Director of Brand and Experience Design, Ryan Schulz is responsible for making sure clients’ true character is represented in everything his team does: messaging, brand, user experience, visual design and front-end experiences. With more than 15 years in brand consulting, he helps clients break through the sea of sameness that plagues the world of professional services. 

  •  Favorite color: Greenish
  •  Favorite breakfast food: Breakfast tacos

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