Five Rs for post-COVID Recovery

24th September 2020

14th July 2020

Forget the crystal ball attempts to predict a post-COVID-19 future, start creating it.

COVID-19 has upended our lives and fragmented the way we live. As we slowly put the pieces back together, brands need to find ways to lead the recovery and actively shape the new normal. To do that, according to M&C Saatchi’s Justin Graham, we need to engage in the five Rs: resolve, reconnect, reinvent, re-skill, and reignite.

For months now, we’ve been glued to the news, fuelled by minute-by-minute updates on the rapidly-evolving pandemic. There’s no denying that a crisis of this scale has the potential to reorder society permanently. Nobody knows exactly when, how, or to what extent things will change, but a new normal is inevitable.

And that means brands and marketers must adapt. Let’s forget the idea of neat, tidy phases. Being bound to phases risks being out of tune with a rapidly changing environment, and can distract us from what’s really happening.

The same is true of trends. There’s no denying that adland loves trends and using its crystal ball to see into the future – a quick scroll through LinkedIn could tell you that much. However, in times like these, there’s a risk that if we lean into trends too much, we begin to perpetrate and instil negative behaviours instead of helping customers move through them.

the five Rs

Resolve inertia

The coronavirus crisis has caused people to feel and experience a sense of inertia about their lives, and barriers keep getting in their way.

1.6m Aussies lost their incomes in the first week of lockdown, almost half of Australia’s workers are on wage subsidies, and 80% of Australians believe the crisis will have a lasting impact on their lives.

By identifying and solving the problems that are causing inertia for our customers, we can help ensure their lives regain the momentum that’s been lost.

Reconnect

A defining feature of COVID-19 has been the scale of severed connections. Moments, feelings and activities that used to be commonplace are now a distant memory.

In response, brands need to help their customers reconnect with the world around them, whether that’s in person or online. It’s worth remembering that virtual and digital solutions are only enablers, not replacements for authentic human experiences.

Re-skill

The same is true of all those skills your current or potential customer might always have wanted to learn – now is the perfect time to be their guide.

Similarly, businesses should also be using this time to empower their own staff to retrain or upskill in their chosen area.

Reinvent value

COVID-19 has rendered certain business models and ways of delivering value obsolete. But if your brand’s usual offerings have been hampered or completely cancelled, don’t immediately admit defeat. Instead, utilise current constraints to your brand’s advantage by seeing how you could deliver your product differently.

Our client Tourism Australia, for example, was forced to completely overhaul its marketing strategy away from international travellers and instead focus on domestic travel. ‘Holiday here this year’ inspires Aussies to travel local, while referencing the need to support and stabilise the severely impacted local tourism and travel industries.

Find areas for diversification by leveraging contacts or suppliers you still have access to in order to create brand new value for customers.

Reignite passion

It’s human nature to want what we can’t have, and brands need to use this simple fact to their advantage. Throughout the pandemic, certain experiences, rituals and activities have remained out of reach. As restrictions ease, marketers have an opportunity to reignite the passion for the experiences around which our brands live.

If you can prime your customers for when restrictions ease through branded content and social media, when they’re finally allowed to take part, they’ll have a stronger desire and passion for your offering than ever before.

It’s time to start resolving, reconnecting, reinventing, re-skilling, and reigniting your customer’s passions. If you don’t, you’ll be at serious risk of alienating customers who are demanding that from brands.

We need to stop staring into our crystal balls and instead begin resolving customers’ problems, helping them reconnect with the world, and reigniting their passions. Instead of focussing on the value they’ve lost, brands need to focus on reinventing new forms of value, and re-skilling their customers for the strange new world that we have already fallen into.

Forget the crystal ball attempts to predict a post-COVID-19 future, start creating it