In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how themselves and their teams have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, what they have learned from it and how they continue helping their customers.
For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Fintan Gavigan MMII, Co-founder, Collaborative Marketing Agency
MII: Hi Fintan, can you tell us about how have you been adapting your marketing activities during the COVID-19 outbreak?
We really adapted by creating a marketing agency, Collaborative, during this pandemic. The challenge of launching something new at a difficult time like this has been getting in front of people when they are at their kitchen tables. So, we have had to innovate a little, but that’s what we do anyway.
The best way to go to market has been doing what we would encourage customers to do. We created our own Podcast series ‘Get Stuff Done’ where we spoke to people from a broad spectrum of industries and pushed that content out across social media channels.
If we have a message to get across then we have turned it into its own voice video content and pushed it out on our website and social media channels. Given our backgrounds, I was in media and communications and Aidan Sheeran my co-founder ran production and postproduction companies, it was a great way to create engaging content and to showcase what we do. Practising what we preach really.
How have you been engaging with your team?
The immediate team is just me and Aidan Sheeran. We are in touch all of the time.
Any freelance talent that we bring in to work on campaigns, we tend to know already so it has been phone calls, zoom calls and whenever possible coffee and a chat.
From a broader communications perspective, the whole question of team engagement though becomes far more critical as we look to pull out of this crisis. Most people have become used to engaging remotely, however, some still struggle. It will be imperative that companies plan carefully how they communicate the change back to what was a norm and whatever that will look like. I truly believe that message or campaign will need to be one of the most thought out in 2021. We all adapted suddenly when we had to last March. The return is not coming as a surprise so there is no excuse for getting it wrong. I would urge all marketers and communicators in organisations to bring the expertise that they have to bear on this situation going forward into 2021.
What have you learned from a marketing perspective from COVID – 19?
There have been quite a few lessons. Some have resonated more than others. Firstly, the importance of agility. Be ready to adapt, in fact always think about how you could or should.
Secondly, a reminder that small is beautiful. There is a depth of really top class freelance talent out there, from strategists to designers. If you can harness that talent you are on to a winner. It feeds into the whole agility question really. There are many really talented marketing people working out there for themselves. Some have chosen to freelance, others have found themselves needing to do it, cut loose for other reasons and then finding that a few grey hairs didn’t help when looking for another role. They have an awful lot to offer. Big hat-tip to The Indie list. They have led the charge in pushing this message.
Finally, never forget the fundamentals of really great messaging. It builds trust. Brands and organisations need to speak to audiences like real people. The generic ‘we’re all in this together’ messages won’t cut it. Clearly explain how you understand their needs and how you are helping.
Lower than normal presentation standards at times crept in as a consequence of this sudden thrust into technologies that we had to quickly embrace. 2021 and the hope that vaccines bring will require us to show our best look and give our strongest message as we come out from behind our kitchen tables.
How have your work practices changed? What will you do differently going forward?
No different to anyone reading this at the moment I suspect. Physically, where we work has varied throughout the whole time. We both come from very people-centric engaging sectors of the industry, so less travel, fewer face to face meetings and events has certainly been a change.
In the future, as with all companies, we’ll be less dependent on that initial contact being a face to face one per se. We’ll probably always strive for it to be but we will ensure that we are putting our very best foot forward virtually too. We are doing that where possible already and turning as much of our messaging as we can into our own voice audio and especially video.
Also as referred to earlier we will continue to utilise the great freelance talent out there, for both our benefit and most importantly the benefit of our clients.
Has your brand purpose been challenged by COVID 19? How?
Our Brand Purpose has really been defined by COVID 19. We were born out of the needs of companies, needs that were brought by the consequences of the pandemic. The need for constant fresh thinking, greater agility, increased speed to market, an on/off nature of spending, greater than ever budget awareness.
This new lockdown is difficult for all but, there is light and we will all thrive again. We are driven by the fact that we are lucky in this country to have so much great creative marketing talent out there looking to work that can get the wheels turning again for business. Harnessing that talent is the trick for success in the future.