Last week our team had the pleasure of kicking off our new series of Insider Interviews with Pete Parsells, our President and CEO. Through these interviews, we will cover issues surrounding the marketing world right now and how businesses can tackle them. Pete offered insights on finding your audience, supporting a cause as a business and evolving marketing tactics.
Bouvier Kelly: The coronavirus pandemic has placed a dent in the wallet of many business owners and corporations. To combat this financial turmoil, some businesses have decided to cut back on marketing activities to save money. Why do you believe that marketing is still worth the investment during these challenging times?
Pete: Because you can’t leave your audience behind. While now might not be the time to push products or services, depending on your industry, now is the time to get out the message that you are still the right company. Get the word out that you are helping your community during the pandemic or show how you support your audience, but you cannot just stop all marketing, because your company may be forgotten, and it’s hard to come back from that.
BKI: How do you think that consumer behaviors have changed during these times, and how does that impact marketing?
Pete: Consumer behaviors have changed. More people care about social issues than ever before. Consumers want to see how businesses are supporting various causes and, once again, what they are doing to help the community. Saying you support a cause, then not proving how you support it can hurt business because consumers are doing their research.
BKI: Very true. Many people have more time on their hands. Whether it be that they are working from home or facing unemployment, they now have more time to fact-check and do research. How do you think businesses should go about marketing moving forward? What strategies do you think they should implement now, and how should they keep it going?
Pete: It all depends on your business and your markets. What you do and say all depends on your audience, and even in good times marketing must be continuously evolving. You cannot always go out with the same message.
BKI: I agree. For example, I think everyone is getting tired of the same “unprecedented times” lecture that’s in every ad.
Pete: Exactly, and it doesn’t show your audience that you care. You have to say what you are doing for the cause.
BKI: Why do you think some companies don’t back up their claims of support for a cause?
Pete: Bluntly, some companies don’t really care. They just want to seem politically correct. Other companies are just trying to please everybody, but any position taken could offend someone. It all comes back to “who is your target audience?”.
BKI: What do you say to businesses that are feeling the pressure to address social issues?
Pete: I’d advise them to build a program first, then let their consumers know what they are working on. As long as they have started some kind of involvement, they can say they care and are involved.
BKI: So, it sounds like you think businesses should stand for something and be involved in their communities to some degree.
Pete: Yes, to some degree. Maybe not so much for business to business relations, but especially for business to consumer relations. Modern day consumers want to be associated with brands that matter and make a difference.
BKI: People have an increased interest in ethical consumption.
Pete: They do. Back in the day consumers were only concerned with getting the product they wanted or service they needed for the best price. That was my generation, but things change with every generation and that’s why marketing must continuously evolve. We have to stay on top of changes.
BKI: How do you suggest companies stay on top of change?
Pete: Several ways, but a big one for me is reading.
BKI: Reading what?
Pete: Everything. Newsletters, research, social media, even books although they are often outdated. It goes past just a 9-5 job. You’ve got to do some homework.