Since the pandemic began, TopRight has been investigating and writing about the fate of marketing in this crazy time of ours—the transformations, reformulations, and new dispensations that are arising in a field caught off guard by Covid-19 (as we all were).
Over the last four months, we reached out to friends and clients, we gave advice on how to handle a crisis, we went into the dirty details and the current research on the virus, we worked with Global Health Crisis Coordination Center to promote the latest health recommendations, and our fantastic stable of writers used their personal experiences to discuss the impact of the pandemic on business, marketing, and, well, life itself. We also won an excellence award (two, actually). Chaotic, but interesting, times!
Then in early May, we threw together a leadership forum about the impact of Covid-19 and the way forward. The event was phenomenal, the speakers were excellent, and we enjoyed it so much that we’re planning another one for mid-July. (Join the TopRight newsletter now for updates on the event.)
If you missed any of this meaty stuff, check out our posts below. Read the full articles, follow the links, and do drop us a line to tell us your thoughts.
But alas, we’re still left with one question: What will TopRight focus on now? It’s not as if the nation has exactly returned to the old normal. Things are still unpredictable, dynamic, anarchic. With that in mind, we decided to switch gears and try to focus on solutions. So, for the summer, while keeping an eye on Covid-19 news, we’re going to be writing about Working Together: Alliances and Partnerships in Business and Branding. Which kind of collaborations are working well right now and which are not? What do partnership offer brands, and how can you best benefit from them? How does cooperation work best in different contexts, in the office, among major brands, between the private and public sectors? Until the autumn, we will pursue these questions and more. Do join us!
PLEASE ENJOY TOPRIGHT’S 2020 GLOBAL HEALTH ROUNDUP!
“A new lesson to learn here, perhaps, is that the economic pain of Covid-19 will not be evenly shared. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a ‘significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.’ By that definition, the Covid-19 virus has triggered a recession. The US Department of Commerce reports that total retail sales fell 8.7% in March 2020, the most significant decline since the government started tracking sales in 1992.”
“Authenticity now seems almost quaint—what people actually want now is honesty, transparency, radical compassion. In truth, the marketing discussion surrounding authenticity always seemed to me to be a little trite and try-hard. After all, everyone knows when a brand is trying to sell products, a patina of authenticity isn’t going to change much even if it’s convincing. Plus, just plain-old selling your wares is fine—no one ever said it wasn’t.”
“When big or traumatic things happen, the clichés start falling like snow. … But what I think people want right now is something more intuitive, enlightening, a way forward that isn’t padded with comforting notions of authenticity, togetherness, the “new normal.” In other words, we need to dig deeper to find our way. As I was thinking along these lines, I decided to check out Seth Godin’s presentation at Inc. magazine’s Real Talk. I admire Godin. He’s a top-tier brand strategist and a standup guy. But his presentation was discussed some of the kind of concepts that I view as just the starting point for strong branding, and a review of where we already are, not at all a prescription for the future.”
“Over the past 30 years, I’ve taken note of the different ways consumers respond to market uncertainty. In the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, for example, shoppers tightened their belts. In 1999, panicked preppers flooded the stores to stockpile goods for (an ultimately illusory) Y2K. And after the great recession 12 years ago, I watched people respond, virtually overnight, to the worst economic crunch in decades with a skyrocketed sensitivity to cost and value: many people, including those who could still afford it, voluntarily gave up on high-status premium products that offered little practical use. But today, we face uncertainty like we never have before.”
“This is a momentous era we’re living through. The last time humanity faced down something of this magnitude was in 1918, over a century ago, and between 17 and 100 million people died globally. So, the rainy-day plans your team has stowed away to strategize around some ordinary crisis may not apply, unfortunately. This moment is unique. It’s a generational, cultural dividing line in history. And, for better or worse, we won’t be the same once it’s all over.”
“With the world changing in unexpected ways, American workers and employers are on the lookout for a whole new set of work tools, technologies, and even daily rituals to stay on their game. All of us, certainly, will need new methods of coping and staying productive as we navigate uncharted and often choppy waters. Remote work, and especially digital tools for remote meetings, are top of mind for most folks.”
And new partner Brandon Palanker wrote about the future of life and work in a transformed world.
“The instant transformation to a work-from-home economy has been a bit overstated. Even so, there is little question that a shedding of office space is likely to occur. For sure, the evolution toward a more flexible and quasi-remote work environment with less demand on employee transit will continue and even accelerate.”
Check out these fantastic supplementary essays and articles from around the web…
Harvard Business Review on empathy.
“In these moments, we don’t have all the answers, and we need to acknowledge that. If you make pledges, even during uncertain times, you have to be able to deliver on what you say.”
Fast Company on change.
“It’s a good time to round up some opinions about how the pandemic might change how we think about various aspects of life and work. We asked some executives, venture capitalists, and analysts for thoughts on the specific changes they expected to see in their worlds.”
Forbes on the future of work.
“With 62% of employed Americans working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what is the future of work? … Some changes may be temporary until there is a Coronavirus vaccine, while other changes may become permanent.”
Mike Gingerich on adapting retail to COVID-19.
“The global COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis that affects everyone on the planet. Nobody is exempt from taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. But if you run a small retail business, how do you adapt during the pandemic?”
Inc. on wearing a mask.
“Heal’s experience should be instructive for companies, as much of the country now grapples with reopening and business owners are tasked with figuring out how to do so safely. While no two businesses are alike and what will keep workers safe at one company may not keep them safe at another, there’s one almost universal need: facemasks. You’re more than likely going to need them.”
New York on the recession.
“It’s official: The U.S. entered an economic recession in February, ending an expansion that lasted for more than ten years, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. What’s not official, but very likely true, is that recession is already over.”
The American Marketing Association on digital pivots.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with changing consumer sentiment. 2020 has been nothing if not a year filled with utter chaos, much like a bad Hollywood film. If it isn’t a global virus, it’s murder hornets; if it isn’t economic collapse, it’s massive natural disasters wiping out entire species.”
Still want more? Sign up for our newsletter! And follow Dave Sutton @toprightpartner or visit him on LinkedIn. And if you still need another fix, grab a copy of one of Dave’s new books, Marketing, Interrupted or HBR’s Strategic Analytics.