On Monday 23rd March 2020, our agency was thrown into turmoil with the announcement of lockdown. Our clients businesses’ were equally affected. From Made For Drink whose operations were 80% focused on the pub trade to Babylonstoren which was looking to launch into the UK with a major Spring event sponsorship deal. Every element of society and business was to be touched.

Below charts our 3 stage experience of how to deal with a crisis, along with lessons that we have learned as a business and with our clients.

Stage 1. Panic!!!

Obviously, this is the first stage of any major crisis. Successfully coming out of the panic stage can be a fine line. You don’t want to allow it to affect you personally to the point of paralysis and at the same time, you mustn’t react too quickly making snap, reactionary decisions without knowing the full picture. So, outside of the blur of a couple of sleepless nights and one or two too many glasses of mid-week red (as in my case), you should start to see the wood from the trees. In doing so you have successfully navigated the first stage of recovery. Panic forces you to wrestle with the impossible doomsday scenarios, and believe it or not this can be healthy. We call this worst-case scenario planning, and whilst entirely negative can allow you to see the worst possible picture. From knowing how bad things could be, things can only get better!

Stage 2. Pause

Once things begin to level and the media frenzy drops to a shout rather than a scream, you can begin to reassess. A pause is important as it allows the full picture to settle. Think back to the early weeks of the COVID lockdown. We had no idea if lockdown was going to be for weeks, months or years. As time quickly rolled by it became very apparent that there was no short term fix. This period helped us understand the severity and nature of what would lie ahead. Pause also allows things to catchup; government support to be announced, banks to solidify their positions and most importantly, it allows staff, colleagues and key advisers to assess what’s going on from a personal, business and client standpoint.

Stage 3. Plan

Once you’re thinking clearly and have a good understanding of the immediate, medium and long term issues you can begin to plan your way out of any situation. You can now force yourself to really ‘think differently’, throwing the shackles of the previous route to market. We had a series of clients who decided hibernation was their best option, having weighed up all the odds. Others decided to reinvent themselves and create a newer, smarter more evolved customer relationship and business model.

One in particular, Made For Drink, successfully navigated stages 1 and 2 and towards the end of the second week of lockdown, we sat on a Made For Drink board meeting, where all the great minds internally and externally throughout the business had been brought together to discuss, review and recommend the best cause of action. The energy, enthusiasm, ideas and passion we’re truly inspirational.

Another client, Babylonstoren, allowed the dust to settle and then boldly decided to park an entire 12 month’s worth of activity and replan the whole of 2020 within 2 weeks! Knowing what we knew about the changing customer market, coupled with their ability to deliver directly to consumers we developed a direct strategy pinned in place with digital activation.

Most brands had dropped a lot of their digital advertising spend allowing us to deliver more for less on Facebook, Instagram and Google AdWords as part of an ongoing 4-month performance marketing campaign. We doubled up the performance marketing strand with 4 targeted podcast sponsorships across: A Glass With, Out to Lunch, The Hi Low and RHS. An influencer program of activity has begun with Alexander Dudley & Marte Marie Forsberg. We leveraged 3 tactical partnerships with RHS, The Handbook and Bloom & Wild giving us a reach of 2.5m potential targeted customers. Notwithstanding the direct to consumer brand emails, we finished the campaign with an equity-driving piece with Classic fm, leveraging the opportunity to advertise whilst the UK’s first-ever Royal radio program was taking place hosted by HRH Prince of Wales.

As we reach the halfway point of our campaign result are highly encouraging with ROI circa 400%.

With COVID-19 continuing to roll and showing no signs of a sudden stop to its momentous disruption. Our learning, by calmly applying the most basic 3P’s planning process can allow brands and businesses to identify new opportunities, new ways forward, new ways to communicate with an audience and new revenue streams.

If you would like help with exploring how to navigate the ever-changing consumer landscape, give us a call.

hello@grandc.co.uk / 020 8546 0150