How to Avoid the Apocalypse - A New World Beyond the Crisis
Updated: Apr 29
How can professionals (including writers) who are living in a world driven by the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic move outside the noise and look to the future?
There is a downside to operating alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. The media mirrors daily life (or is it the other way around?) — empty supermarket shelves, panic, changing certainties on staying safe & knowing how to behave, social distancing, politicians, changing rules by the day, cancelled fun.
Let everyone else focus on the crisis now, and begin to think ahead.
Speak with Your Legitimacy and Unique Point of View
It is easier to deal with the immediate crisis than to think ahead beyond the current upheaval.
I spent some years heading up a digital team in an ad agency. Agency life is tough — plans change and people are forced to pivot and immediately address the question of relevance:
What is the client/ customer need in this changing environment? — (the client will most likely not understand this)
How are we (the agency) pertinent in this market and to this client?
What point of view can we legitimately offer?
Is this point of view unique?
Is there anyone else (agency and brand) that can offer up the same thing?
These advertising lessons serve us well beyond the agency.
Smart individuals, businesses and thought leaders should think about their unique perspective. “What is being said? What do you have to say that is different?”
Arriving at your point of view / unique selling point (USP), just for you is more complicated than most people understand. A USP has to be something that no-one else can claim or assimilate. When put against a competitor brand, your USP should NOT hold up, make sense, or be something your competitor can claim. At the same time, it must be something that resonates with your clients.
Think About Your Brand; Be On-point for the customer, and you
In this environment, resist the temptation to weigh in on the conversation of the masses — even if you have a more informed ‘opinion.’ Instead, take pause and think about what works for both your brand and your customer.
The brand communications about COVID-19 that are flowing through our inboxes are all the same. One could swap the branding and not know the difference. The messages in each communication are:
It’s business as usual.
We are taking extra precautions (handwashing).
We will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly.
Be kind/ stay safe.
Consumers grant permission for brands to contact them. In exchange for this, consumers expect brands to provide value:
Value — an offer, product or service that is attractive to the consumer.
Value — information that the consumer might find entertaining, useful, informative.
And even point 2 is a stretch.
One Travel Industry Insider to Another...
The Travel Industry is (all) Over This
Unsurprisingly, the travel industry has mobilised ahead of the rest, and the cruise industry is leading.
Within a few days of each other, Virgin and then Qantas announced their suspension of International Travel — massive cuts to domestic travel and standing-down of staff.
We all learned from the situation in Japan — arguably, we’d not have been as far along without this early ‘debacle.’
While the various cruise lines have been negotiating with world leaders to get cruise ships back to land and those on-board home, the rest of the world has been systematically imposing tighter border restrictions to the point of closure.
Alongside these negotiations, the Cruise industry has come out with a response to all those with bookings. 100% refund on cancellations, and 125% as a credit for future bookings.
100% refund or 125% credit towards future travel — that is news customers want delivered to their inboxes.
Now is the time for the industry to look ahead — it’s unlikely that all but the biggest Cruise Booking Agents will survive. Traveller confidence will be low, — so what will the future of travel look like?
Could Cruise take the lead and offer end-to-end booking — Cruise, flights, hotels, airlines, insurances? Cruise is arguably in the best position to define these new models.
There’s a Lot of Noise — Take Time and Pause
We don’t know the exact moment when the world will return to a more usual revolution, but an intelligent guess would put it four — six months from now.
It is normal, understandable, usual to be engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic — to want to talk about it, to connect to others, to try and help each other through this.
Most people will find their natural voice and point of view mirrors popular sentiment. Actions will be reactive. For many of us in Australia, USA and many European locations, the immediate spike of panic will recede in a week or so.
At that point, savvy operators and individuals will take the opportunity to stop, think and plan.
Think ahead to the future
When do we get time to plan? In a very strange turn, that time might be now. Questions to ask are:
How will your industry change?
What differences will you see in your workplace?
What will your customers need and look for when business resumes?
What were the experiences through the C-19 pandemic? What will you leave behind, what remains?
Advertising Research Foundation — 2nd Annual ARF Privacy Study, March 26, 2019
John Hopkins University & Medicine — Coronavirus Medicine Centre