Author: Charlie Nettle
Whether it has been the ongoing pandemic or the effects of Brexit, many businesses and many areas within our businesses have had to transform themselves.
Marketing is often the budget that is first to be cut in a time of crisis. However, what we are seeing is that strategic and tactical marketing and communications has never been more important and like all other professions, marketers have had to adapt and will continue to do so, as they navigate through a post-pandemic environment.
With so many people staying at home and consuming content, companies who are savvy enough to invest in their marketing and comms strategies have been able to enjoy a larger voice in the market and a chance to be more visible.
Those who are brave and agile enough to press on with their strategies will reap the long-term benefits rather than those just trying to survive.
We have also seen a shift when it comes to internal marketing, ‘our people are our greatest asset’ is something we hear a lot, and marketers are often quick to recognise that falling employee engagement damages external brand perceptions. In some cases, the delivery is just not matching up to the brand promise, so marketers are starting to lay claim to territory that was once held by human resources - employee communications.
The growing popularity of employee or employer branding, is testimony to marketers' attempts to adapt the tools and techniques traditionally used to motivate and engage customers, to secure the engagement and commitment of an internal audience.
Taking the time to explain to internal stakeholders what marketing does will clarify individuals’ roles, illustrate the value marketers can deliver for employee communications and also help emphasise what they deliver across the wider business.
In fact, Covid has really tested marketing teams on their ability to react even more quickly than usual. The pace at which government guidelines for businesses and their employees changed has put businesses and their marketing teams under huge pressure to interpret and implement in real time.
As if one ‘never seen in a lifetime’ event wasn’t enough, this of course has collided with the roll-out of Brexit, which has thrown global trade up in the air and resulted in businesses having to learn more about their wider supply chains. Marketing has very much had to be in tune with this.
This has also led to new opportunities, particularly within international markets and there is a great opportunity for marketers to demonstrate that they are analysing the market, understanding the customer and identifying the opportunities that lie ahead.
North East England, which is where I am based, is a region of many strengths, one of these being its exporting base. We have seen many sector bodies continue to champion this, not least the North East England Chamber of Commerce, which has advocated the need for strong links around the world to enable organisations to continue to flourish.
As a region, we have long been recognised as a net exporter, delivering a positive balance of trade for UK plc. Aside from benefiting from an incredibly strong manufacturing sector, our record for exporting goods is further bolstered by a strong service industry, which is identifying a growing number of opportunities to market itself and secure new customers overseas. We have also seen the region’s ports adapt for the change in trade. The Government has recognised the critical role that ports play as a gateway to global trade and has tried to support the sector by providing funding to some of the ports as part of its Brexit preparedness programme.
Most recently, there was welcome news that bids have been submitted for two potential Freeports in the North East. Aside from this being an immense marketing opportunity for the region and UK trade, it is expected to create 18,000 jobs on Teesside.
Our team, at AV Dawson, has been working closely with the local authorities to support the work they have been doing and ensure Teesside puts forward its strongest bid possible. Port of Middlesbrough, which is owned and operated by AV Dawson, is one of a number of sites included within the Freeport boundary, enabling the region to deliver a diverse, powerful, Freeport proposition. For AV Dawson, this represents an opportunity to propel our business forward in our strategy to expand into renewables and recyclables markets. More widely, it’s been fantastic to see the region coming together behind this bid and the excitement this is generating.
It may go unnoticed by many, but marketing has such a critical role to play through these turbulent times; from keeping abreast of changes in the market and strategic planning, to actually delivering communications campaigns to external and internal audiences. With the fast-paced nature of change today and marketers being best placed to understand and champion the customer, this represents a great combination to put marketers where they should be – at the front, driving their organisations forward. Marketers must see these times as an opportunity to raise their profile within the organisation and demonstrate the difference they make to business success.
For too long, marketing has been misunderstood, underutilised and undervalued. In fact, it is ironic that marketing seems to struggle to market itself. For the sake of today’s and tomorrow’s marketers, but also our businesses and our economy, I’m keen that we address this issue. A number of marketers in the region are now working together, with the support of twenty key partners, including the Chamber, CIM, CIPR, Nigel Wright and Greggs to ensure marketing is better understood and valued. The ‘This is Marketing’ campaign is working with marketing and communications professionals but also students and the wider business community to create an infographic that everyone can use to consistently explain what marketing is and the value it delivers. Once marketing is properly utilised then we’ll really unlock the potential of our businesses. To get involved in the campaign visit www.thisismarketing.co.uk