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Why waiting for the announcement of a lockdown release strategy – before the UK government attempts to recover lost revenue – is wrong

4 May 2020
by Adam Oldfield

It’s inevitable that the release strategy from the government will come in response to the nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of Coronavirus outbreak. It will be a phased approach and some form of ‘normality’ should resume.

But, from a marketing – or indeed business management – perspective, simply waiting for the confirmed release date, so that businesses can prepare for the office return, is pointless. Why? Because doing nothing until that point means we’re all sitting ducks, waiting for a time when we can start triggering comms. What about the crucial opportunity to communicate in the meantime?

Likely spend patterns

Just like the changing of the tides, consumers will get back to spending money and businesses will deliver services to support that need – it’s impossible to hold this back. As a result of the pandemic, some businesses have already been fortunate enough to face a ‘boom’, but for others the pace will be agonisingly slow when the world begins to return to ‘normal’.

From a business perspective, it was positive to see that government stimulus packages have been centred around making cash available, so while the profit and loss may get hit, cash reserves should be strong for several enterprises.

As a family man, I’m picturing the holidays and gifts I will be buying for my wife and children when certainty returns to the market. And this is the essence of my point – what I, a consumer in this instance, have already started to think about doing when we get the release news. My mind has already been made up.

Savvy brands that understand this – and that are working with customers and prospects now – will be the ones that quickly recover from this terrible period. And those that simply revert back to the norm and business as usual marketing they’ve been used to, will be left claiming COVID-19 took all their fortunes.

The same can be said for any crisis, there are winners and losers – the difference is simply the ability to understand the opportunity.

Digital engagement spikes

During this period, we have observed a 180% increase in digital engagement from proactive brands. Putting this into perspective, that’s bigger than the opportunities that Christmas typically generates from online marketing. That’s not to say there are large amounts of transactions – because this simply isn’t the case – but the cash has not evaporated. Much of it is still there and people are thinking about buying.

So, while this time will look ugly from the profit and loss point of view, the cash will be available to start priming the pump in order to earn the lost revenue. As Theo Paphitis famously said, “a lack of profit is like cancer, [it] kills you slowly.” However, he went on to explain that cashflow is different and like a bus hitting you in the street while you have a heart attack – killing you instantly.

As depressing as this sounds, that is what the UK government has focused on protecting, in order to support our industries.

Now, we understand that many businesses will have cash, let’s turn next to consumers. COVID-19 will have created hardship for some, while others will have actually saved money during this sobering time. It’s therefore possible that a boom will come.

The boom from the business world will be an effort to utilise the cash to make more profit, cleaning the office, building new websites, recruiting more talent and working on brand. You name it, the focus will be on sales and marking. Cash in the bank will not improve the P&L – the only thing that can do that is sales and cost reduction (but let’s not focus on cost reduction because of the next point).

Consumers will spend their money too and cash will return to the system – it’s the natural design of the economy. So, will businesses be looking to save more money or go after the cash in the public’s newly deepened pockets?

Returning to my original point about why waiting for the UK government to announce a release strategy – before attempting to recover lost revenue – is wrong… it’s because people are already forming our opinions now.

Businesses will get left behind if marketers wait for the return to normal – it’ll be like buying stocks after the boom. Get in while it's quiet. We know the boom is coming… it’s simply a matter of when.


Photo of Adam Oldfield
Adam Oldfield
Managing Director & Founder

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