It’s time to rethink your value as a brand. Brands need to seek new ways to offer value that goes beyond products and services. In his discussion with Doug Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media, Jim Joseph also encourages to listen closely to why customers are making the decisions they are–the subject of his new book The Conscious Marketer.
It’s also more important now to make appearances in the media and inform the public on the changes you’re making to ensure public safety and how they’re taking care of their employees during these times.
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DOUG: I’m with Jim Joseph and Jim I’d like to start by finding out what your most important advice is for communicators navigating COVID-19?
JIM: We are dealing with the biggest uncertainty we have ever dealt with in our lives and that uncertainty is not going to go away for a while. So my biggest piece of advice to communicators, to marketers, to team members is just get used to being really agile. Get used to change that might happen overnight and just learn to be much more flexible in how we’re dealing with all of this, so that we can all feel better about it as we navigate through it.
DOUG: COVID-19 seems to have forced a new level of creativity within our industry just we’re managing so many different things for clients that are coming so fast. How is that informing how you’re working with clients and the advice you’re giving?
JIM: Oh absolutely. I think innovation has taken on a whole new form. Now we’re taking a look at clients’ assets in very different ways and not looking at the typical assets that we used to think about. We’re looking at clients and saying Do you have parking lots? Do you have break rooms? Do you have media dollars? What do you have that we could put together that would make a really compelling program that’s going to help communities? We’ve never thought about that way before with our brands.
DOUG: It is interesting, and one of the important pieces is for brands actually to be getting their spokespeople out there in different forms of media. Do you feel that that’s growing in importance?
JIM: Oh absolutely and those spokespeople aren’t necessarily celebrities anymore and they’re not even necessarily influencers they’re leaders in the organization. I like to say that the CEO has become the Chief Brand Officer communicating on behalf of the brand. And I don’t just mean individual brands but corporate brands speaking on behalf of employees, speaking on behalf of stakeholders shareholders investors as well as consumers. That person is becoming the voice of the company and actually the spokesperson too.
DOUG: And we’re seeing one of the interesting things with such an emphasis on internal communications. Some of the best internal communications is repurposing the external communications so the employees actually see what their leadership is communicating on the outside and it resonates and matches with what they’re hearing on the inside.That’s very important.
JIM: Absolutely. In fact we’re seeing companies and clients and organizations all around the world really look inside first, and that’s been a very positive movement I think in all of this is that companies are taking care of their own first, taking a look at health and wellness, safety, mental well-being, connectivity, engagement and then taking a look at what they can do outside of the organization to give back to communities to get back to the consumers that that they’re serving.
DOUG: Yeah and that also aligns with some of the material you’ve covered in your new book “The Conscious Marketer” and congratulations on having that book just out. Can you talk a little bit about how you emphasize marketers needs to really understand the why of buyers making decisions and how that might even be more important now?
JIM: So very true. I mean I wrote the book months ago as you can imagine. So I had no idea that it would come out in the middle of a pandemic the middle of the world’s largest crisis we’ve ever seen as an organization, but at its essence being conscious is making sure that you have a full understanding of what your consumers your customers your stakeholders are going through and how they feel about what’s going on in their lives and the social issues and the socio-political issues and popular culture. And while you may not take a stand on those issues, you at least need to understand what is going on and how it’s affecting those people and then adjusting your programs accordingly. So you can imagine in the middle of this it’s even more important to understand how your customers are going about their daily lives as they’re learning, teaching, growing and trying to get worked on trying to cook trying to have a bit of a social life. It’s really important to be aware of that so you can understand how you can add value back to them.
DOUG: I’d like to touch on one point as we get near wrap up and that’s the issue of diversity within organizations, diversity within the groups that you’re reaching, how they’ve been affected so differently, and how do you need to bring that into what you’re doing as an organization to really be a fully conscious marketer in this environment.
JIM: Absolutely diversity and inclusion is very much a part of being conscious and understanding how all the various groups within your organization and also all the various groups within your customer base are dealing with something like the crisis we’re going through or just dealing with their lives in general and making sure that your internal team is diverse and inclusive so that you’re thinking about all aspects and not just diversity as we often think of it but all aspects of it; economic diversity, education, geographical, ethnic background, language you know every single form so that when you have marketing programs and communication programs that go out into the marketplace they are in fact inclusive of all the different kinds of customers that you may have, even more important now as this crisis has really, maybe for the first time ever, affected everybody. There is not anybody who has not been affected by this. Various degrees and different forms for sure. Some much harder than others, but no one no one has escaped it completely. Which is probably the first thing ever in our lives to have happened as well. So even more important to be inclusive and diverse and how you think about it and then think about communicating to your constituents.
DOUG: Great and advice from folks like yourself has never been more important. Thanks for being part of the program.
JIM: Thank you. Thank you.