Covid has taken its toll on marketing, and everyone has a responsibility to help in the recovery.
We’re all tired.
If we was to create a word cloud of the most used adjectives offered in response to the question ‘How are you doing?’ this year, “busy”, “exhausted” and “stretched” would dominate. Those answers are also always delivered with a resigned sigh.
The reasons given for the malaise are universal – a combination of childcare, winter blues and disappointment the new year hasn’t offered a fresh start.
We have no doubt all of this is true. We also suspect the responses of the marketers are spoken with mask of deeper, unspoken disquiet – the burden of 12 months of being asked to do way more for far less money, and in ways never imagined a year ago.
Any invigoration that came from do or die innovation early in lockdown has now been replaced for many with the heavy load of the previous 12 months. The toll is being felt by individuals, teams and businesses.
It’s a brutal story of thwarted ambition, reduced earnings and exposure to an ever-decreasing energetic market. For many, the mood is a product of losing colleagues to furlough and or redundancy. It’s no wonder sighs are so pronounced.
It is also as a result of enforced restructure and retraining. Many report changes to the structure of the team. This isn’t entirely pejorative – lots report necessary changes in pursuit of long- and short-term agility – but with change often comes unease, and a forgetfulness of the importance of brand presence.
Look after those who champion your brand.
Companies, of all industries, need to be mindful of the impact disruption to categories has had, the exhaustion of pivoting and the overhaul of departments that has seen many having to say goodbye to colleagues and long-standing agency-to-business collaborations.
Meanwhile NABS, the advertising and media support organisation, has seen a 35% increase in demand for its services with more than half of the “emotional health” calls it receives are about mental health problems stemming from work pressures.
Marketers are not alone in feeling the strain. But they are more exposed than some to cuts to budgets and staff, while also being on the frontline as companies turn their attention to recovery.
As we put the worst of the pandemic behind us and look beyond, efforts need to be redoubled to ensure brands have support mechanisms in place.
Nurturing your brand is a priority.
As stark as the figures on redundancy are, they only tell part of the story on lost talent. Yes, there are, sadly, a big and growing group of marketers out of work through no fault of their own, a victim of plummeting profit from loss of revenue.
The drawbridge has also been pulled up for those looking to get into the industry.
The reality for companies reeling from the past year and staring at a severe recession means they can’t fund marketing activity. And, sadly, investment is seen by some companies as discretionary.
Don’t forget what is important.
We have seen job descriptions for senior roles where required competencies and experiences run over pages. We are also seeing project briefs asking for the world, but only willing to pay peanuts. Brands searching for creative experts seem to want digital natives with the experience of veterans.
On one hand, it’s an inevitable consequence of the shift to digital platforms accelerated by the pandemic. What businesses now see as the perfect marketers has changed with it.
On the other, there’s a danger of prioritising hard, digital, often tactical skills over strategic brand basics.
A reaction to the disruption of the past 12 months that could leave experienced marketers steeped in fundamentals out in the cold.
Brands have recovered from economic shocks before. There will be plenty in the industry that have experienced the disruption of the 2008/09 and earlier recessions.
The speed and depth of the disorder caused by Covid does require greater effort though. We have all seen enough of people’s willingness to help peers, enough initiatives from employers in service of their employees’ mental health to feel confident the industry is up to the task.
Your brand requires the same recovery assistance too.