Pivoting your Strategy

why planning matters for b2b services

How to Pivot Your Communications Strategy

Take a closer look at how our team in Melbourne is managing campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 is certainly teaching us a lot in all areas of our work, but especially when it comes to agile communications planning. Where, in the past, we’ve planned out monthly, quarterly and even yearly schedules for our clients, during the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve found ourselves quickly having to take a pivoting approach and switch to working week-to-week (at most) to ensure communications are current and sensitive to the market’s needs.

In the first few days of lockdown in Australia, we quickly realized that during a crisis situation that is subject to rapid change, marketers need to be incredibly flexible and proactive in planning for both inward facing and outward facing communications.

This was especially clear in industries like foodservice that were – and are continuing to – face a huge business impact as all their customers, such as restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs etc., have suddenly been forced to adapt their business to a takeaway only model, or even close their doors altogether.

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the things we’ve learned so far that you can apply when you need to pivot communications in a challenging situation:

Engage in scenario planning:

To begin with, we defined hypothetical best case, worst case and ‘somewhere in the middle’ scenarios for each of our clients. This included perspectives from the business itself, its clients and its partners. We then developed individual communication strategies for each of these scenarios, got each approved by the client, so that as the situation and market changed (and it did rapidly), we could confidently and quickly switch between the approaches to the one that was most appropriate at any given time.

Listen to your audience:

This has always been important, even without a global pandemic. But as COVID-19 continues to quickly change things, our entire team has had to stay on top of what might affect our audience in the short, medium and long term. For instance, there is no point touting ‘best strategies for food delivery’ if our audiences in some states don’t have this option because it has been shut down by restrictions. On top of this, by listening to what customers are feeling and experiencing, our clients are able to re-establish trust and ‘give back’ through customer-centric promotions.

Take a close look at your budget:

When the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began to emerge in Australia, many of our clients were suddenly facing pressure to cut spending across all areas of their business. By working with our clients to prioritize communications activities and spending, we avoided any insensitive promotions that might have come across as tone deaf in the current environment and also avoided ‘black holes’ in our client’s communications that may have made it look as if they had shut down completely. Striking the right balance here is key, as you want to remain active in the press and on social media. Customers may be turning to your brand for more answers now than they did previously, as they’re faced with new challenges. However, you also do not want to invest in tactics that might be viewed as frivolous and wasteful, especially when your organization may be furloughing employees or cutting pay.

Change your voice:

Many of our clients have a strong digital presence and we were aware that while people were required to isolate at home during the pandemic, many would have more time to spend online. As a result, we recommended a change in voice for our clients, so they were providing lighthearted and uplifting or informative content to people looking for support. This also saw us shift our focus away from regularly promoting products, to instead promote the brand through relevant and valuable content reflecting the current needs of their audiences.

Catch up regularly and adapt:

After creating our best, worst and middle case scenarios we continue to have weekly catch ups with all of our clients to discuss any market changes, opportunities and to prepare for what we expect to happen next. This leads into us creating content on a weekly basis that is hyper-relevant to the current situation and can be discussed and approved week-by-week.

Learning to Pivot in the Right Direction

The outbreak of COVID-19 has drastically changed the way many businesses operate, and the effects will no doubt remain long after the pandemic is over. It’s a reminder that nothing in this world is certain. Therefore, it’s best to be flexible, adaptable and ready for anything, especially with the way you approach your communication strategy. It’s impossible to predict with absolute certainty what the next global challenge will look like, which makes it incredibly difficult to prepare for what might be around the corner. However, readying yourself, your team and your procedures for a quick and efficient pivot is always valuable.

A crisis can be an opportunity to pivot your marketing strategy in a new direction. Contact us to learn how your B2B brand can stay top of mind today and into the future.


Sarah Park is the Digital Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She oversees the development of digital marketing strategies for clients to drive brand awareness, and ultimately sales.