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Gaurav Patra

Co-Founder of Value360 communication

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The advent of comms-tech and how it impacts brands

Technology now enabled seamless working including for very large teams from remote locations, created a platform for senior leadership to connect and update all employees at frequent intervals, and kept operations smooth in a way that client servicing continued without a glitch, and in certain occasions, even faster.

Technology assumed a new and much more important role during the Covid-19 pandemic. It helped us stay abreast of all developments, provided a medium to stay connected professionally as well as personally, and most importantly, it enabled us to continue earning our living, despite not being able to attend offices physically. While these are some of the means in which technology helped us at an individual level, needless to say, it helped corporates as well. Technology now enabled seamless working including for very large teams from remote locations, created a platform for senior leadership to connect and update all employees at frequent intervals, and kept operations smooth in a way that client servicing continued without a glitch, and in certain occasions, even faster.

Business Functions’ Response To The Pandemic

The pandemic introduced a new concept of social distancing, so as to counter its ill effects. This ensued that a corporate or a star-up could not continue working in the erstwhile manner, thereby impacting HR, Finance and Operations. Operations were discontinued for multiple sectors, especially manufacturing, agriculture and FMCG, among others. In some instances, supply of raw materials and imports were impacted, whereas in others, shipments to customers and exports were adversely affected. These directly impacted the finances, especially working capitals of businesses. From a HR standpoint, things weren’t smooth, either. The employees were now stationed remotely in the safety of their homes, but lesser connected with their teams and there were rumours of companies downsizing owing to the financial losses they were bearing due to the pandemic. Customers, one of the most important stakeholders for any business, now also did not have access to the products and services through physical locations, any longer. This led to a situation of uncertainty, chaos, and in general hopelessness and gloom. In the backdrop of this, every function of a business was quick to adopt technology in order to survive, sustain and eventually, flourish.

Emergence of Mar-Tech and Comms-Tech

Marketing and Communications being one of the most dynamic Strategic Business Unit of any organisation – ranging from large conglomerates and budding start-ups – was one of the first to jump on this ‘change led by technology’ bandwagon.

It was soon realised that given the volatility of the situation at large, constant engagement through communication was imperative. It is critical to note that the basic essence of communication also underwent a sea-change in the pandemic. At a time of social distancing, technology was the enabler of virtual communication. Right from using video calling platforms to stay connected with employees and clients, to leveraging social and digital channels to establish a constant line of interaction with its customers, to launching products and services virtually, it was not just communication anymore; instead it was, now, communication-technology or comms-tech.

Marketing as a function also imbibed technology for both its back and front end operations, with Mar-Tech or Marketing Technology being the new buzzword for Brand Managers, globally. During the pandemic, Brand managers increasingly leveraged virtual platforms to communicate about all developments, establish itself in the minds of the existing and potential consumers, address concerns first-hand (virtually) by directly interacting with all stakeholders, declutter and distinguish the brand from competition, and in general, maintain and build on the brand’s reputation. Needless to mention, the content strategy was key to enable all of these. Be it choosing the most appropriate platform for communication, or the mode of engagement with the stakeholders on each platform, content is the king and the strategy is the driving factor for making or breaking a brand. The engagement with customers need not be all serious at all times. Interesting and relatable content through campaigns, contests, customised filters, polls, and memes, among others, could also be equally effective and efficient in communicating the brand message, loud and clear.

While brands are engaged in leveraging social to establish a direct line of communication with its target audience through its social media handles, it maybe worthwhile for them to engage social media influencers and micro-influencers. This would enable them to drive the brand credibility through third party endorsements. They can communicate on the new launches, review products and services and thereby create a need as well as a relatability factor for the same. This may even begin a two-way conversation of brands (through the influencers and micro-influencers) with their target audience, wherein they get valuable feedback to improve and serve better. While an influencer enjoys a very high number of followers, a micro-influencer may drive an association better with the existing and potential clients. Depending on the end goal, Brand Managers may choose to work with either of the two categories.

Parting thoughts..

Technology has made communication and marketing more dynamic, leading to better results. The Smartphone penetration, wearable technology and technology on the go has ensured that communication has become smoother, cost-effective, lesser time-consuming, simplified, and above all, more effective and direct. Virtual reality is helping brands transcend boundaries and time-zones and serve a larger audience. Perhaps the most vital role of technology is that it has enabled communication to take place in a much more integrated manner, thereby reaching out to the stakeholders and impacting their decisions, holistically. Mar-tech and Comms-Tech focus on providing comprehensive consumer experience and constantly enhance it, rather than just selling a product or a service. Artificial Intelligence has enabled brands to customise its outreach and make the entire virtual experience more immersive. Brands today are investing substantial amounts in R&D pertaining to technology and the technology landscape for marketing and communication is expected only to get better in times to come.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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