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Covid-19: How Further have adapted and how you can apply Gravity’s 4R’s framework to your brand

We can all agree, Covid-19 has knocked 2020 for six. Strategies we’ve spent months working on, plans we eagerly waited to put into action, budgets we’ve tried to stretch have been made to at least, be reconfigured, or put on hold.

But whilst we wait for this all to blow over (sadly not at The Winchester), it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Currently there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, which is why it’s important to prepare for what the following few months will bring. Further have always had a #WFH policy and our teams have been amazing at working remotely with our clients during this time, but for others the transition may not have been as easy. Times are tough right now, but it’s important to continue as best possible. Gravity recently released their 4Rs framework as a roadmap to help brands build their messaging plans around the key phases of this crisis (not just the immediate challenge, but also planning for the future). Further have also learnt lessons along the way and have adapted to support our business and clients. Here’s what you can also do:

Gravity's 4Rs framework for brands

Don’t go dark

As mentioned in Mark Lethbridge’s (CEO of Gravity Global) post, Forbes.com revealed that brands that maintain a presence during a crisis recover faster. It’s important to not lose communication with clients during this time. It can be a hard balance to know what is right and what is deemed insensitive when it comes to posting on social media, sending an email or updating your website. But we believe it should be, as reasonably possible, business as usual. By going dark you’re only damaging yourself in the long run. These times offer so much confusion, which is why it’s important to continue communicating. Share colleague stories on Instagram, write that blog post you’ve been meaning to write, redesign your website etc. Gravity’s first of the 4R’s focuses on responding; remaining future positive, therefore by staying switched on you’re showing your clients you’re still there for them. 

“It’ll be super easy for businesses to stop posting on their socials during this time, but it’ll be even harder to start up again if they stop posting. If there’s nothing to post, they can be creative with throwbacks, curated articles, etc. If they’re inundated with customer requests, they can utlise timeline pinning tools, automated message responses and chatbots. For example, Andrex might like to use a chatbot to broadcast ‘quick, we’ve restocked our toilet rolls’ to the people who have recently messaged.”

Abbie, Social Media Executive

Continue producing excellent content

In the similar stance to not going dark, now couldn’t be a better time to align your content strategies. People’s internet usage is soaring at an all time high. There has never been a time when more people have been online. People are craving online content; from video to thought leadership to regular light-hearted posts. The second of the 4R’s is ‘reimagining’ with one of the areas focusing on recognising new changes in media consumption and how you communicate as a business. Content is key in several aspects of this.

Now is the time to excel in producing quality content that can engage with your audiences. We’ve had to react quickly and efficiently with our clients and our content team have been hard at work producing timely content. It’s about being reactive in this situation but also about identifying where your content can offer assistance and be best placed. Now is the time to either start or continue producing content that can offer engagement, discussion, information and if possible, escapism. 

“You can never prepare for times like this. Marketing is normally all about planning ahead, sometimes a year in advance! But it’s also about being reactive, thinking on your feet and ensuring you’re keeping your creativity flowing. A marketing strategy is never set in stone; they’re always being adapted. For now it’s about generating great content for all to see, even if it’s not hard selling and more about helping others with something to take their minds of the world for a few minutes.”

Ben, Marketing Executive

Reassurance is key

There won’t be a single person out there who isn’t worried about what the future holds. Money, jobs, businesses, the economy; it can be a scary time. But reassuring someone can go a long way. Now is not the time to be selling services, as Gravity notes. It’s about identifying how you can assist during this time. Throughout the pandemic the Further team have been great at keeping everything in working order and keeping clients reassured at all times. It’s about being extra vigilant, open for negotiation and above all, being kind to your wider network. The third of the 4R’s, ‘rebound’ focuses on keeping brand presence high whilst retaining stressed customers. Supporting clients and your wider network today can be beneficial in securing business in the future.

Remain connected

We as humans were born to have connections. Therefore it’s important to keep conversations alive even when you’re working from home and away from others. At Further, we hosted our first ever virtual Further Friday with over 30 colleagues coming together. This was a great opportunity to share business updates and connect with everyone. Talking is key. Since the pandemic Zoom has seen its popularity skyrocket with many users logging onto the platform for business and social measures. We’ve found the platform to be really beneficial during this time and help us continue connecting with our clients and staff.

Even if it’s just for a virtual coffee or to discuss work related issues. Next time you’ve got to speak to someone, why not offer to set up a zoom call rather than sending an email? A little conversation goes a long way.

We’ve also found implementing ‘Slack’ into our workforce has been hugely beneficial in discussing work tasks (as well as sending memes).

Rationalise your spend

It’s inevitable that the first thing we look at when chaos ensues is budgets. Everyone is juggling different pots of money at the best of times. Where do you stop your spending? But this shouldn’t be the case. If anything it’s now about maximising on the resource you’ve got and being more strategic in your approaches. You may need to reduce, but don’t cut altogether.

“Rationalise your spend, but don’t stop it. It’s tempting to batten down the hatches and cut costs during times of uncertainty, but brands doing this with their marketing spend often find their corresponding drops in SOV/market share persist and have an impact on the bottom line that outlives the downturn. Even if sales are unlikely, you can gain ground higher up the funnel. Focus your efforts on tactics designed to increase interest and consideration; telling stories, sharing advice, and answering customer questions/concerns.”

Jay, Account Strategist

Now is the time to see how far you can stretch your budgets and see what you can really achieve on limited resources. Being flexible in what is needed right now is vital. For example, with the majority of the world in isolation, it’s a good time to look at your digital marketing. Digital activity seems to be increasing right now, as many look at alternate ways to do business. If you’re able to best place your spend in the areas that will continue to succeed, then we think it could help benefit your business in the long run. The fourth of the 4R’s, ‘recovery’ looks at brand resilience and how companies can recover quickly from these difficult times. Now is the time to focus on your productivity, whilst also realigning your targets. It’s about rationalising where possible in order to come back stronger in the future.

And finally…

Most of all, don’t panic! Businesses will get through this. For now it’s about realigning your strategies and getting creative; working out how you can continue trading during these times with the limited resources you have. Your 2020 plans may need to be moved into next year. We want our clients and wider network to know that throughout this, Further are here to help. From offering advice to sharing a virtual coffee. The lessons we’ve learnt so far in line with Gravity’s 4R’s have helped us to identify what needs to be done moving forward and shape our business long after the pandemic is over. We hope this will be the case for many of our clients and other businesses out there too. If you’d like to talk we’re only a zoom call away!

The 4R’s framework Gravity has developed is a communications response to enable companies to navigate the crisis, to pivot their communications, and plan what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Read the framework here >

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