The changing behaviour series: an unprecedented time

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While “unprecedented” may feel a little overused, it goes without saying that there’s real meaning in that word at the moment. We have no substantial events in our lifetimes that we can lean back on to adequately draw comparison with. There’s just not a model for this moment, and yet, that’s all we want.

Personally, I find myself wishing that we had a playbook for this moment, wishing that I knew what we were supposed to do. How do we carry on with life as usual when everything feels uncertain and unsteady? What should we say to help make this better? And even worse, what if we say the wrong thing?

All of these unprecedented choices have led us to the age-old “fight, flight, or freeze” paradigm in our personal lives. And not only have we been confronted with fight, flight, or freeze in a personal capacity, we’re facing it everyday in our professional lives, as well.

It’s so emblematic of our moment, that those same personal questions we ask ourselves are the same professional questions that we ask as marketers. How do we carry on with life as usual when everything feels uncertain and unsteady? What should we say to help make this better? And even worse, what if we say the wrong thing?

I wish that I could say this will illuminate you with some unbeknownst answers to those questions. Although, we understand that the true answers only come in time, once we’re able to zoom out of the micro of “right now” and see the macro “back then”.

While we wait, the best thing we can do is simple: we must keep dialogue open with one another, and we must keep each other informed. Communication and collaboration is how we make light out of the dark.

Like I said earlier, we have no substantial events in our lifetimes we can lean back on to adequately draw comparison with. But we do have each other, and that humanity is more valuable than any model or projection available.

In the advertising ecosystem, data partners are the closest to the consumers and can provide constant firsthand updates on how their behaviors and preferences are changing. Agencies can continue to aggregate this information and share it with their brands, with recommendations on how to move forward. And, in turn, brands have the opportunity to respond to these changing needs, and adapt quickly to rise above the noise and become a cultural rock.

This isn’t the time to add more layers, more testing, more approvals. This is the time for all of us to be agile, to take a close look together at the potential to help consumers right now — whether that’s through social impact, providing essentials or just through humble, human messaging of support.

No one knows the perfect thing to do or say. But above all, this unprecedented moment is humanizing for ALL of us. And if brands focus on communicating with their customers not as commodities, but as people, they’ll form connections that will last much longer than this unprecedented time.

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