Rapid-Response Marketing—Staying Agile During a Pandemic

Nov 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in one way or another and has given us little option—both personally and professionally—other than to be responsive and clever. While it’s easy to apply these methods of approach to some things, it’s definitely not as easy to apply them to others. Fortunately for the seasoned Nexant marketing team, staying agile during unsure times was second-nature.

Marketing, by nature, necessitates clear and nimble thinking—the ability to adjust messaging, approaches, and strategies on the fly based on whatever the response to the identified success metric(s) is. It requires marketing professionals to be knowledgeable and in-tune with their clients needs and ultimate goals, keenly aware of the changing market around them. The COVID-19 pandemic starting in early 2020 proved to put these skills to the test and then some.

Enter an approach called “rapid-response marketing.” This is a form of real-time, nimble marketing in which marketing teams need to adjust strategies spontaneously in response to opportunities—or in this case—completely unknown repercussions to our clients’ and contractors’ businesses for an unknown duration of time.

Nexant’s marketing teams took quick action, working with our U.S utility clients to implement quick communications strategies for customers and contractors alike. For utility customers, communications needed to be quickly shifted and crafted with extra care and relevance to the new pandemic reality, moving from a sales approach to an educational approach. Crafting and offering information such as low- to no-cost tips and tricks to save energy and water while spending time at home, rather than hard sells, became the focus. Some marketing efforts were paused and adjusted to include COVID-appropriate language so customers would feel comfortable if they were to engage with the program. Some programs have adjusted their incentive levels or rules to participate in certain incentives temporarily so that customers who do adopt energy efficient projects could save more. These changes were heavily communicated via increased email sends to both vendors and customers. Email copy was also translated into Spanish to ensure we reached a broader range of our customers.

In addition, we needed to inform our contractors of what changes we planned to implement to counter the negative impacts encountered by the pandemic. The utmost priority was and is keeping the contractors equipped to continue to do their jobs as successfully and safely as possible. We also began continuous communications about COVID-19 precautions and guidelines. Remote project inspections and assessments (via phone video/photo) were implemented and certain clients made several program changes to make the contractors’ business processes easier—such as extensions for projects and direct deposit. Additional “perks” were offered, such as new co-branded sales materials, training opportunities, and opportunities for easier movement through tiered levels of their network. We also introduced promotions to contractors that encouraged them to complete applications for certain programs—which resulted in some of our most successful months this year and during a time when numbers of applications were dipping dramatically.

Our marketing teams continue to strive to be forward-thinking amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are changing our strategies and approaches as needed to adjust to the changing times. We will continue to operate under the highest standards, ensuring the safety and success of our clients, contractors, and their customers.