In the Face of Information Saturation, Strategy Is the AnswerBy Valerie Anaya Levesque | Thu, 07/21/2022 - 15:00
Today more than ever, being at the head of an organization or a brand in the marketing world can be exhausting. The constant every day is to wake up to dizzying changes in terms of budget cutbacks, advertising restrictions, algorithm changes (yes, now we are talking about algorithms and not just consumer trends) or the latest "meme" or viral trend that invades social networks and digital platforms and that later, as if by magic, will have expired, giving way to a new topic that in turn will become a trend.
If for a digital native this torrent of information can be overwhelming, for the common digital content consumer it is definitely exhausting.
The sheer volume of content published every second in digital media represents a huge challenge for companies and brands because without a real strategy, their messages risk going unnoticed and becoming a sterile effort.
Although it sounds incredible, even today, there are companies that have a presence in digital channels without a strategy behind it. And many of them believe that, if they have survived so far in this way, they don't really need a strategy or a team to advise them. This discussion could take several pages of analysis.
Individuals, microenterprises, SMEs or global companies — we have to be humbler and recognize that consulting is essential for some aspects. And it becomes a priority in contexts such as the one we are currently facing with economic uncertainty, human rights and environmental crises, in an environment of misinformation, fake news, disposable consumption and supply saturation.
The complex ecosystem of a company demands an exact mix of internal and external professionals who are agile enough to ride the latest trends and generate something valuable from them. They must also be analytical and meticulous to detect that, while it is important to take attractive and challenging opportunities, and crown themselves as "the first," it is equally relevant to detect when one of these waves is more like a tsunami, which will sweep everything away and leave them with their head in the sand after the fall.
The digital world leaves traces that are almost impossible to erase. And although all this seems obvious, every day we come across examples of campaigns or initiatives that are difficult to ignore, not because they are creative, but because of the big mistakes they make. The explanation in the best of cases has to do with the burnout of employees; however, the lack of a strategy to support these opportunities is usually a common denominator.
An example of this could be "pride washing," where many companies promote their "pro" initiatives by placing the rainbow that represents the LGBTQIA+ flag in all their communication. What is even worse, they emphasize the concept of inclusion by adding the pronouns “they” or “ze,” among others, to their social networks or in their advertising when they do not even have inclusive policies in their organizational culture or simply do not go beyond posting comments in support of diversity and then forget about it and continue with the next campaign.
I don't mean that it is wrong to carry out actions that relate to social movements. In fact, it is quite logical. According to data from the latest Nielsen brand study, trust in brands is also a significant factor influencing purchases. It indicates that more than half of US consumers (52.3 percent) buy brands that support causes they care about; similarly, more than 36 percent expect the brands they buy to support social causes.
The point here is that without a foundation and authentic actions inside or outside the company that honor a movement or a social cause, let's be honest, it's nothing more than a pretext to jump into the conversation, which could be taken as opportunism and a clear symptom that we are saturated, in a creative crisis, or in the hands of the wrong advisers.
Consumers are also becoming more skeptical and critical of these campaigns, as mentioned in the Nielsen study; however, despite brands' desire to be purpose-driven, 55 percent of consumers are not convinced that brands contribute to real progress.
This shows that being congruent with communication is not only a responsibility, it must also be part of the very purpose of any organization. Beyond a trend or fashion.
What should you do if you want to genuinely support a movement like LGBTQIA+?
The first thing would be to evaluate if they have a real purpose as an organization, if they have the time and personnel to dedicate human resources to address a project of this nature. A second step would be to approach nonprofit associations that are related to the movement and discuss with them how the company can get involved. Either through in-kind donations, volunteer work or project financing. These would be the basic and most indispensable steps to start a project that really generates a positive impact.
Beyond jumping on fashionable trends, if the topic is not within the principles and values of the company, and they are not willing to actively participate to generate a positive impact over time, do not take that wave.
If you don't know where to start, it's a good time to consider hiring the services of experts. What a brand or company needs to reduce campaign failures is a communications strategy that governs everything else; one that has clear objectives, a purpose to share with its audience, a plan over time and clear metrics.
With the right allies, it is much more likely that your campaign or news will reach its objectives, that the audience will connect with the campaign, share the content generated as if it were their own, that they will feel proud to consume those products and recommend them, and finally to be part of your community.
Finally, how do you know if you need a strategic communication partner or not?
- Have you been presented with situations involving the communication, marketing or commercial areas that have jeopardized the reputation of a product or the company?
- Are external communication actions analyzed in detail before being executed?
- Do I have a person exclusively in charge of the communication area, or do his/her duties include the communication area as one of his/her priority responsibilities?
- Does that person have the experience or training for the position?
- Internally, are the corporate communication axes clear?
- Is that person clear about the communication axes, the objectives and sensitive areas in terms of the company’s communications?
- Are enough projects involving corporate positioning, dissemination activities, approaches to the media or strategic allies carried out?
- Are these projects successfully executed?
Maybe not all the questions apply to your type of company but I would say that most of them will make sense to you. And the answers will help you answer whether or not, and how urgently, you need a strategic communications partner.