Why 64% of UK businesses will focus on branding and PR during the recovery

Why 64% of UK businesses will focus on branding and PR during the recovery

A survey of 500 UK business decision makers by software and digital asset management specialist Bright has found that the majority, 64%, are planning to focus on branding and PR in the post-lockdown recovery marketing mix.

Unsurprisingly, digital transformation is also deemed to be crucial; 57% state that content management systems and 59% indicate that website enhancements will be high on the agenda.

A combination of needing to re-establish interrupted connections with customers, accelerate digital transformation plans and continue long-term brand building are driving these initiatives, respondents to the survey have told Just.Marketing.

64%branding and PR will be crucial in the months ahead
59%investing in website enhancements
57%focusing on content management systems
57%pursuing growth-led and social media campaign strategies
55%looking at CRM

Why branding and PR?

For Jessica Banham, Group Marketing & Brand Manager at £1.6 billion civil engineering firm Aarsleff, companies are turning to PR and branding to control the narrative around their business and sector as well as maintain reputation.

One of the 500 respondents to the survey, which included CEOs, MDs, directors and senior-middle management across a range of industries, Jessica says, “I think it’s become expected that leaders in all industries must embrace an entrepreneurial mindset to not only stand out from the competition but to survive.

“Branding and PR allows us to take control of the narrative instead of leaving the door open for other people to make assumptions. Both help to build a positive reputation for our business.”

As companies re-acclimatize during the next phase of covid recovery, there will also be an element of learning what works and what doesn’t under the new conditions.

Graeme Nash, Director of Marketing, Tea Venture/NOVELTEA, told Just.Marketing that his team will remain flexible with an eye on both short- and long-term branding objectives.

He says, “There are some great media opportunities available to brands at the moment but we’ll continue to focus on what works well for us and our customers and give particular attention where we feel we can drive strong returns.

“We’re also conscious that we don’t lose sight of how we build our brand over the longer term. It would be easy just to focus on what is happening now, but we’re invested in building the brand for the future and it is important that we continue to do the right things to enable that.”

More than half will invest in CRM

The research found that 55% consider CRM activities to be important. So significant has the disconnect between companies and customers been that even small, family-owned businesses like pubs, have been alerted to its value and are accelerating plans to invest in it.

Independent pub and restaurant The Bricklayers Arms in Sevenoaks, Kent, is planning to use branding and PR as well as CRM to connect with customers who have been remote for the past few months.

The pub’s Director, Andy Hogg, says, “CRM is the focus for us at the moment – we always had it on our ‘to do list’, but now we need it and we are starting almost from scratch. Our current customers will be easiest to sell to, hence why this is the primary focus, but we also need to then think about how we get our brand into the wider market and indeed, our products too.”

Growth-led strategies rise, for some

The survey also revealed growth-led strategies and social media campaigns are central to the thinking of UK businesses, with 57% of leaders expressing these as areas of importance. But not all companies will be investing in new business.

Jane Hales, Managing Partner, Sapio Research, a marketing research agency, says, “While we have been fortunate in maintaining and strengthening existing client relationships, I think it’s going to be a little while yet before people will want to move away from existing relationships and try new partners. So new business is going to remain tough for quite some time as trust with prospects is developed.”

A similar strategy, focused on CRM, is being rolled out by marketing services firm ResponseTap says Nick Ashmore, the company’s VP Marketing.

“We expect it’ll be easier to drive incremental revenue from selling more services to existing customers rather than winning new ones, so our focus will be on CRM led campaigns,” says Nick.

The areas of investment highlighted by the survey illustrate the types of marketing challenges faced by firms across many sectors.

Graeme Nash says that for marketers, “Keeping close to what is happening to customers and what is going on in their minds will be the biggest challenge in the coming months. As we move through the next stage of this crisis, the ability to remain agile and adapt to quickly changing circumstances, and spotting opportunities, is going to be a big determining factor in both short and long-term success.”