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Why marketers must plan for the future... from now

By Sam Garrity, Managing Director



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 27, 2020 | 6 min read

During the Coronavirus outbreak, we will be sharing thoughts and ideas with our clients every week, about how we can work together to meet the marketing and business challenges that Coronavirus has created. While people’s health and wellbeing is the number one priority, the success of businesses will determine if those same people will have jobs to come back to. Helping our clients weather the storm and emerge intact is the subject of these posts, we hope you find some value in them.

Rocketmill help marketers to rethink ways of communicating with customers during the pandemic.

Rocketmill helps marketers to rethink ways of communicating with customers during the pandemic considering how many are at home.

We all know our priority right now lies with our families, communities, colleagues and protecting the NHS.

But as marketers we must also pay some attention to ensuring we all have jobs to return to. That means supporting the economy by using our talent.

It means we mustn't be paralysed by Coronavirus.

What is unfolding is truly tragic, but it is temporary. Now that some of the initial shock is being absorbed, as we settle into our new norms, some of us need to turn part of our attention to the economic responsibilities we have.

The here and now

Some brands will simply not be able to advertise, whether due to cashflow or a complete collapse of supply, demand, or both.

Others will rightly question whether they should advertise right now, as we’ve seen with Coca-Cola GB - suspending their activity whilst they pause to consider how to serve their audience best at this time.

For those that can, and wish to advertise, we all know there are some basics that need to be considered at this time; to serve your audience like never before, to be appropriate and responsible. There are some wonderful examples over the past week of how brands have asked themselves ‘How can we be of most value to our people at this critical time?’, leading to product innovation and altruistic outcomes.

On a more simple level, FMCG brands can continue to advertise in the current landscape with a creative tweak that encourages responsible behaviour when shopping or discounts for front line workers.

Aside from directly advertising, many brands often put off investment in customer analytics, marketing analytics and technology due to the immediate demands they face, now is a good time to invest in this. Many businesses can work with more freedom now to ensure they have the right foundation and the right plumbing, to make their marketing more effective in the future.

We mustn't be afraid to continue in some way. The economy and people’s jobs should benefit from our sectors considerable creativity and technical knowhow.

The future

Firstly, there is one. And it's not that far away.

We are hearing from Chinese agencies that their clients are now wanting more from them than they can give. The market will come back, and now is the time to consider your next moves.

We all know that a great campaign - from strategy, to creative, to media, through to activation - takes a few months to do well. We all plan Black Friday several months in advance every year.

The brands that use this time to consider how C19 will alter the behaviour of their audience, how to then reach them, how to talk to them, how to market to them if we have intermittent lockdowns, and how to position a brand in any new norm - they are the brands that will bounce back faster than those currently sat on their hands.

As marketers we are valued for our thinking, we plan for the future, getting brands ready to go to their market. If the post-Coronavirus market returns before we do, then the brands we help thrive will suffer, and many more people will lose their jobs.

Here’s a few prompts to help stimulate your thinking at this time:

Your audience:

  • How are they feeling now?
  • How will they behave in the future?


  • How can your business help people at this critical time?
  • How can it position itself post C19?


  • We have been asked to isolate at home. Split your media between those channels viewable at home, and those that are not, and plan/invest accordingly.
  • Review the recent data on audience numbers for those indoor channels, i.e. we all know social media activity is spiking.
  • Consider if your audience is among those currently outdoors, i.e. key workers, and whether you can connect/support them using outdoor, etc.
  • Consider the media channels that are currently losing revenues, and consider if there is sufficient value in using them - there is a lot of inventory available in certain channels right now at discounted rates.
  • Think about your media plans for when we bounce back. There will be a brand that uses media such as outdoor to welcome us back in a way that catapults their brand.


  • How can you use your communications to support people now.
  • How can you tweak existing messaging to be appropriate and responsible.
  • How will you position yourself when we bounce back?

Data Science:

  • How can you use behavioural science to analyse and predict future customer behavior? C19 will change people, in subtle and profound ways.


  • What infrastructure projects can you bring forward, such as a Salesforce implementation or Google Analytics 360?

Let’s get to work.

Sam Garrity, CEO at RocketMill.


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