Whether this is seen as a challenge or opportunity, we have entered a significant and undefined period of uncertainty.
The capacity to endure this uncertainty means everything from the strength of the economy to the resilience of our people. In communications, doing so will be dependent on the ability to maintain and create engagement with customers, prospects and other stakeholders.
According to research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of marketing professionals in the UK said they didn’t know how the EU referendum would affect their businesses before the vote. The run-up to the referendum, and especially the last few days, have shown they were clearly not alone. And while no one has all the answers, it is important to remember that these are the times when market share shifts, when businesses are either paralysed by what’s happened or they seize the opportunities out there. The principles of good communications stand firm, albeit through a somewhat different lens.
Principles of Brexit communications
Businesses are now connecting with individuals and organisations that have new hopes, dreams and fears. A re-understanding of target audiences may be required and businesses must remember that just because they feel one way, it doesn’t mean those they seek to connect with feel the same.
It is those feelings that are crucial. More and more, science is highlighting that decisions are often genuinely based on emotional factors with studies showing how cloudy days and teams exiting the world cup (and perhaps the Euros or the Copa America for that matter) have a negative impact on the stock market. Therefore, how your customers and prospects feel about your product or service is just as important as the product or service itself. Trust and the ability to create a practical and emotional vision for customers that will see them through these exciting or challenging times will be key.
Creativity will also remain essential, but uncertainty can be used to spark creativity in ways not thought of in quieter times. This could deliver new and fresh ideas to fuel campaigns but these must be developed and rolled-out in a way that connects with people on their terms as they get used to the feeling of taking back, or losing control.
We are in this together
Communications do not operate in a vacuum, external factors are an important influence and this is one of the biggest and most divisive we have seen for generations. Despite all of the rhetoric and opposing views, in reality, everyone is in this together – all businesses face uncertainty but it’s those that reflect, react and refine their communications that will be in the strongest possible position to stand out. Wholesale change may not be required, the key lies within the subtleties to show you understand your customers and prospects and are on their side.
Before Brexit, the sectors we support – Engineering, Technology, Financial Services, Energy and Oil and Gas – faced their own challenges and opportunities. The vote has made some of these insignificant and put others under the spotlight more intensely. However, it is communications that remains the enabler for overcoming or making the most of these. That’s because communications is how businesses create real engagement with their target audiences and showcase why they are relevant, valuable and ready for the future, in or out of Europe.