How to glow in the dark

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You don’t need me to tell you how dark it is out there. It’s grim. We’ve got winter, weird weather, wars and worse. Inflation rates are at a twenty year high. Next year there will be 400 elections worldwide, the outcome of which could be pivotal to the fortunes of the world. Both the UK and US will hold elections and further instability and change could be on the cards. The world is facing some pretty daunting times.

You could understand why a lot of people just want to sit on their hands and see how it all pans out. To do so, though, would be a mistake for anyone in communications and marketing. This is the time to be investing, preparing and reinventing. Why? Because you have two options. It’s either the end of the world or it’s going to get better. If it’s the former, then it doesn’t matter. If it’s not, then you have two more options. You’re either going to be too early or too late for the recovery. I prefer the former. Think of the dark times as an opportunity to shine a light. 

This is basically the message from this year’s Marketing Engagement Tracker. This is original research compiled from the top 300 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list. It shows that some of the most successful companies are thinking long-term. This year, they have expanded the amount of research and content on their digital platforms. They’re responding to the darkness by casting light upon the future. 

Of course, there are risks. More digital engagement means engaging with some of the unsavoury actors that lurk on the darker corners. As more third-party materials have found their way into channels, there has been an increase in security risks, but both of these things are to be expected. 

This is smart behaviour. They’re thinking long-term. Even when sales opportunities may be diminishing, they’re recognising that there are still opportunities to build trust and awareness. This means that when the sun does come up again, they’ll be the partners that customers turn to. They will be in pole position.

How do you walk into a boardroom and ask for money to keep channels open when there’s no immediate commercial advantage? Should you just be asking for an act of faith? Well sure, marketing is an act of faith. You have to show belief in your long-term approach. You should never stop transmitting your message. You can still win trust, even if you can’t get revenue. But you’d get short shrift making such unsubstantiated arguments. There’s nothing wrong, though, with creating a longer-term business plan, say for a three year horizon. State your assumptions and put forward your plan. At least it shows that you’re personally thinking and planning for the long-term.

The point the research illustrates is really an old principle. You should never curse the dark when you can light a candle. Or put another way: when it gets dark, you can see the stars.

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