Thought Leaders

No Business as usual! Marketing during times of recession and a T20 strategy for business post Lockdown.

Ramdas Shenoyy from Stirfrymba.com and Sudarshan Srinivasan from Prognosys Marcom penning their views.

In 2000 when there was a dotcom boom, I was still at TechPacific (@IngramMirco) now) where the then Managing Director had the foresight to understand that the dotcom companies could crash and was very strict about the credit-control norms. In the new global recession (hopefully, it will not be a depression) and it will result in a new economic order, all this when 41% of the population feels that economic situation will not improve over several years (source * BCG Survey on Consumer sentiments) The consumer sentiments are definitely low in terms of spending and the focus will be on sectors like daily essentials, home entertainment, Health & wellness, and insurance.

Even if one has to look at planets and clairvoyant experts, where everyone is making a prediction on when will the pandemic end, one thing very clear is that one man’s misery could be other man’s fortune. What it definitely implies is that you will have to use all the tricks from your magical hat and sometimes it may not be as obvious as it looks. Most of the contact businesses will be hit by at least 80% in terms of revenue which are also high with regards to employment which will lead into a spiral downturn in terms of how people will lead their lives. If the businesses have a myopic view and follow health ministry guidelines and feel that everything will be normal post lock down, then we are living in #Kailasa. Even if we are going to start manufacturing products the consumers are not going to throng markets which is evident in China. Retail and malls are going to face the brunt and new fashion accessories are going to masks. Masks with pouts and Masks with specific designs (#Craftizen) and you may be actually not need any other makeup when you go out

So, there is a silver lining. We need to change our approach and look at how we communicate with the customers, which implies that we simply cannot stop communicating and this is what some advertisers have already realized and Google confirms that the ad spends did not slow down as much what they feared. Most of the categories now need to have an online option, and it will be the main option. A doctor in India who tried to sell his online consultation is facing a complaint though.

#Online is going to be the main option for most businesses.

Hygiene and Sanitization will have new norms and will be the unique selling proposition for various service offerings. All brands need to have a new Hygiene quotient

#Sanity in Sanitization will be the new mantra

The brands have to talk to the consumers about their problems, but too much Covid will not be relevant. It has to be with regards to their implied needs or resolving some pain areas. So if your solution is trying to address a specific challenge or service requirement of a product, post Covid, talk about that. #NoBrokers.com is trying to help you get you grocery or sell a software to the housing societies.

What will be your strategy after lockdown? Will it be like a T 20 Match?

Imagine yourself playing a game of cricket, a limited overs match, and you have just got into the groove with some 40 of some 30 balls, and ready to face the balance 24-30 deliveries, hoping that you need to add anywhere between 40 -70 runs. Determined you stand to face the bowler who is running, and your shoulders are itching to power themselves up. The weather seems clear, the crowd is disciplined, but umpire not only stops play, but declares your innings complete. 

Is that actually the story of the FY 2019, for companies are short of most targets by 20- 30%. Imagine 20% of the runs of a team perhaps are scored in the last five overs. So for a team scoring 300, about 60 gets scored in the last five overs. So most in India experienced Duckworth Lewis-Stern Method practically in their lives. As one sits in a lockdown and wonders about the FY2020-21, is it early to consider it as a washout even before a ball is bowled?

In a cricket mad nation, I am trying to bring a parallel to a financial year and an ODI match. 52 weeks in a year, of which one week is Diwali and One week Christmas holidays, so 50 weeks and that is like 50 overs. We open enthusiastically [the first quarter – say 10-12 weeks (overs)], followed by a slack in the middle overs [the second and third quarter – say 24-28 weeks], with the slog phase or the last quarter where you set or achieve targets [10-12 weeks].

One can remember the helpless face of Jonty Rhodes in the semifinal of 1992 World Cup, where from 13 balls 22 runs; the game got reduced to 1 ball 22 runs. India had suffered in successive games against Australia and England in that game. Pakistan benefited by that rule in 1992 to win emerge World Champions.

Many are talking strategies of what will the financial year 2020-21 be like. To use some jargons, Agility, Adaptability, Action are the words that needs to resonate with your team. Batting / Bowling order could get changed, and one may witness a whole now approach beyond the normal.

Obviously it is going to be a game that will be played with reduced number of overs. How many is the suspense? 10/15/20 – well minimum overs for a game to qualify as an ODI is 20, so be prepared for 30 weeks (overs) to get reduced. In comparison to last year, will you be happy with a par score. The key is in preparedness, for the game is expected to start any moment.

As you go to toss with the opposition led by `External Forces’, you are engulfed by confusion, uncertainty on what should the approach be. If you win the toss, would you bat first and set a target or field and be more comfortable chasing a target. Currently, while some strategies are being discussed, some kind of action plan is being formulated. It is like playing some kind of book cricket. 

While there are many games where one would think of Duckworth Lewis – let me jog your -Champions Trophy in 2013, where in a reduced game of 20 overs each side, India set a modest total of 130 for England to chase. At 109 for 5, England appeared to be headed for a victory; a sudden collapse changed the course of the game. A 50 over game became a T20 game.

After all, we are used to ‘fire-fighting’, dealing with a crisis when it is upon us, rather than planning for a different future. Change is something we tend not to plan for. We just deal with it when it becomes inevitable. Yet the changes that are already evident in working practice are major and need forethought. This is truly doing something different, and intellectual acceptance is not enough. The mantra is engagement of stakeholders and getting them to be involved with the hearts and souls. 

We tend to spend a lot of time asking ourselves, ‘Why did things go wrong?’ this is not a useful focus, as this question only analyses the past and focuses on the problem. Do we have the time?. The question should be: ‘How can I make things work?’ This question looks forward and produces solutions to the problem. The objective is to show sensitivity to the context, sometimes challenge the status quo, but that’s what the game is all about.

In these times of chaos, FY2020-21, originally a 50 over game, could be a T20 or a Super Over. Are you ready?

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About Ramdas Shenoyy

Ramdas Shenoyy is a senior marketing and communications professional with over two decades of working across industries and domains.
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