As an agency our number one priority during these uncertain times is supporting our clients and our fellow Kaimerians. We are firmly focused on maintaining a positive and proactive approach and adding value and support to our clients and the industry at large.
We reached out to Chris Savage for his insight and perspective. Chris is the former Chairman of PR group Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific, founder of Ogilvy PR in Australia, a former Chief Operating Officer for close to a decade at STW (now WPP AUNZ), and today is founder of growth advisory firm, The Savage Company. He’s worked through several massive shocks to the business world, including the 1987 market crash, the recession of the early 1990s, the tech bubble burst of the early 2000s, and the GFC around 2009. Here he shares ideas of how to attack challenging and fast-changing times.
As one of Asia Pacific’s pre-eminent public relations, marketing and communication industry leaders, you have no doubt led teams through turbulent times, can you share your key learnings with us?
My biggest learning: focus on your existing clients. Your fastest route to revenues is with existing clients. We need to be more relentless, proactive, nimble and passionate about existing clients than ever before. But here’s the thing. In a crisis, as we have today, we have to accept that much of what we have been working on with clients and have been planning, well, it’s simply no longer relevant right now. So ‘play what’s in front of you.’ Be proactive in getting clarity on what work needs to be paused, and what new work can start immediately to help your client tackle their issues of today. So, stay closer than ever to existing clients. Be alert to the fast-changing environment and focus on what’s happening within their worlds. And look for work we can do to help solve a problem for them or leverage an opportunity.
Different industries will be affected in different ways – are there any sectors that you see positive opportunities for and how can companies and brands spot emerging pockets of opportunity?
Focus on helping your existing clients work through their difficulties. You know who your friends are in a crisis – they walk through the door towards you, rather than out the door looking after themselves. So, make sure your existing clients are getting the very best from you. Then focus on former clients. Anyone you’ve worked with over the past three years who you no longer work with. Even if they fired you. Contact them. Offer help. Send ideas. They are the second fastest route to revenue after existing clients. Every agency in town is trying to chase where the ‘opportunity’ is. Leave that for now. Your existing clients and former clients are a vast and fertile hunting ground to add real value. At least for the next 100 days.
We’re already seeing brands pivot to fill specific needs – for example Louis Vuitton (LVMH) producing disinfection gels – have you seen any examples of brands or companies innovating at break-neck speed and what can we learn from them?
Not yet. Apart from Louis Vuitton. The key is this. DO THE RIGHT THING. This is not the time for brands to look for opportunity to profit from our pain. It’s time for brands to say: “How can I help?” I love the work Blooms The Chemist is doing, for example, getting their pharmacists on air and in the communities trying to bring clarity and calm. It is not looking for kudos. It wants to help its customer base. I love what Ronaldo has done, offering his hotel chain in Portugal up to the Government there, at no charge, as hospitals and isolation centres. This is when leaders lead. Hats off to the supermarket chains. They have been doing an awesome job and showing real leadership. First class. This is NOT a time for profiteering. It’s about doing the right thing. So, for agencies and businesses, a) make sure your staff are safe, and can work effectively from home b) get 100% focused on existing clients. Don’t look for budgets, but look for work to do that solves real problems they face right now, or leverages opportunities c) go wider yes, by marketing to former clients d) make sure you win the very hottest new business that is still alive in your pipe….and just do that for the next 100 days. Then regroup – and plan the next 100 days.
In uncertain times, marketers can often feel frozen for the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, how important is it to keep up communications and do you have any tips on best practice?
Put your staff and customers first. It’s as simple as that. Make your decisions in their interests. Also, we have to be a little brave. That is, to put your head above the cover and actually try to contribute and help by sharing ideas. No doubt the trolls will emerge and give you a slap. But go for it anyway!
We’d like to thank Chris for sharing his thoughts and you can find more information on Chris here.