By Shyam Sunder, Strategic Marketing and Communications Leader

While world grapples with current crisis and businesses have started to accept the new normal, or rather the abnormal, its a good time to go back to the basics on which brands were built in the first place. After all, several sectors are looking at starting from ground zero and hence the opportunity to look at the slate, clean and ready to revisit the norms. Here are the Top 5 actions which will help businesses win or win back its customers:

Shyam Sunder, Strategic Marketing and Communications Leader
  1. Listening enough?

Being a staunch believer of constantly listening to customers, my early years in FMCG sector taught me to always research and act. We are fortunate to be in a digital world where this is quick and easy. Customers are constantly conversing with us across platforms. Data, ratings and reviews are there to be seen. The best of research talent,analysts and consumer insights are available to be tapped. But how many business or marketing heads are listening or looking actively for customer feedback to improve the business? Is the board ready to check their egos and take criticism? How secure are these professionals in their jobs to take risks or just correct past actions? Questions to seriously consider if one were to thrive if not survive this crisis. 

2. It’s the Product, stupid!

Many of us grew with the 4 Ps and saw them evolve to the 4 Es and so on. So how much of those are put in practice in our daily lives? Can’t help but quote the great David Ogilvy. ‘The best way to improve your sales, is to improve your product’. Now how many businesses are ready to accept that? Don’t we go around fixing everything else from marketing to experience to even motivation to improve our business? While all that is needed, if your product or service isn’t great, then nothing else matters. Take a look at those great brands like Apple, Zara, IKEA, Coca Cola, Gillette and Nike who have survived all these years of competition, recession and crisis. At the core their product is not just great but has successfully evolved along with taste of their customers across the world.  This pandemic has changed the world. There is surely no better time than now this, to review our Product, Price, Place and Promotion. 

3. The WHY Of A Business 

Surely an uncomfortable question for any business to ask. Why are we doing what we do? Why do we exist? Sure, making profits is a given but then that can be only the outcome. Not the purpose. Building brand purpose is essential to any business as we as consumers realise that we but the ‘why’ of a brand than the ‘what’ or ‘how’. And its the ‘why’ which allows a brand to truly differentiate if not command a premium and loyalty. If you are convinced and are yet to build a purpose for the business, then there is no better time. But it’s easier said than done. Brand Purpose exercises often fail even before they start. It requires long-sightedness, conviction and perseverance from top to the bottom of any organization. It’s a long and hard journey and the larger the organization, the more complex the execution becomes. And it mostly fails when it is used as a mere Marketing tool. So think about it. The sooner, the better. 

4. We The People!

It’s baffling to see businesses crumble within a few months of shut down. Sure, this is one of the worst crisis in the history of mankind but then wasn’t any provision made to save our biggest asset- our people? For a quarter or two? Organizations have spent months choosing their talent, investing in them, harnessing them. And once forced to lay-off the long consequence of rebuilding the team as the market improves seems daunting. Just on this human resource loss issue, this pandemic will separate the men from the boys. And when we witness those businesses who bounce back the fastest, we will realize one key reason why they did. 

5. Giving Back

What goes around, come around, right? This pandemic has forced several brands come forward and show empathy with acts of kindness. Many, unconditionally. But the ones who were consistently giving back to the community pre-COVID, are the ones who will be seen in a different light. CSR, donations and volunteering work should be a norm in any business, not an opportunistic move. It should be a philosophy which runs through the organization in good times and bad. This sets great brands from the good brands. Like Mary Angelou said – I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Trust me, your customers will