I have seen a lot of coverage about businesses being encouraged to show the genuine faces behind their brands and tell their own story rather than use paid representatives or celebrities, which now seems rather vacuous and disingenuous in the current climate and is an interesting development indeed.
There is no doubt that the way businesses will be marketing themselves will inevitably change post Covid-19. In a crisis – and there have been few crises in recent history as severe as the current pandemic – marketing strategies are often the first to be reviewed and marketing budgets the primary outlay to be slashed in a bid to cut overheads as sales diminish. As much as this is an understandable move – after all, if you cannot control your revenue, you can control your costs – it can be potentially more damaging than the crisis itself. I do not claim to be a marketing expert, but in my many years of reporting on businesses across various industries, I have witnessed enough companies who faltered and plenty who thrived in adverse economic climates, and much of the latter’s success could be attributed to a solid, agile and consistent marketing strategy. Based on that, I believe that when it’s crunch time, it is more important than ever to be bold, visible and confident. At the end of the day, if you’re not seen in the marketplace, how is anyone still to know that your business has not gone and you’re still operational?

Sharpen your competitive advantage
In a study following the 2008 global financial crisis, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that when businesses reduced their marketing by 50% for a portion of time during a recession, it took them almost three years to recover the brand equity they forfeited to competitors. It also pointed out that a crisis, such as the recession at the time, offers a valuable opportunity for proactive firms to sharpen their competitive advantage. I certainly subscribe to this school of thought. Brand awareness and staying front of mind of your customers is vital.
It is easy to see why consumer goods – and in the case of our industry, leather items – need marketing and advertising to whet the appetites of shoppers, but the fundamental requirement to make a company’s target market aware of its goods and services also applies to all the other operators along the leather supply chain.
As much of the manufacturing world is still under lockdowns and restrictions, or slowly returning to operations at reduced capacity, and as business leaders are trying to figure out how to navigate the next few months, this is the chance to review the marketing strategy and to think long-term rather than short-term (or short-sighted).
Marketing is about brand awareness and visibility, and during a situation like we currently find ourselves in, having a consistent proposition and communicating proactively reinforces a position of strength, reliability and trust, even if it seems counterintuitive. This goes as much for traditional marketing channels and advertising, as for innovative digital initiatives or a simple overhaul of one’s public profile, such as a company’s website and whether it still reflects a business in an adequate way and is an attractive gateway to a company’s market proposition.


Plan for the end of the pandemic – now
None of us know when we will come out of this crisis, but out we will come, and when we do and return to ‘normal’, companies who have been clever about their marketing and image now will reap the rewards – because they have never disappeared from the radar in the first place.
Inevitably, business goals and marketing strategies that were set pre-pandemic are likely to have changed mid- and post-pandemic, but it is important to stay responsive and adjust. Companies who – to use the ubiquitous word – ‘pivot’, and promote their core values with honesty and authenticity will be better placed to ride out the storm.
Throughout history, fortune has always favoured the bold, and every crisis has also produced some remarkable ideas, opportunities and success stories. We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it. And if you are not shouting about your own business, someone else will about theirs.

Isabella Griffiths

Isabella Griffiths, Editor