Are you ready to rock? - Five things you must do now to win the post-pandemic race.


Whichever current world view you subscribe to there is one certainty that we can all bank on. Things will return to normal. Now that word ‘normal’ is getting a hard time at the moment and when competing with unprecedented, unparalleled and unimaginable its easy to see why.

While we are riding the emotional rollercoaster - confused by conspiracy theorists, shocked by global news reports, proud of our front-line workers and fearful for family and loved ones its been quite easy to take a bleak outlook and succumb to the darkness.

But let’s take a step back for a minute. I’m a firm believer in the concept that the ‘night is darkest just before dawn’ and Thomas Fuller’s words have never been truer than right now.

This strange period, whatever our circumstances may be, is an opportunity to reflect and figure out what’s next for us. Because what’s coming is normality. As a species and society, we are drawn to consistency through rules, laws and systems. Among our hierarchy of needs are health, relationships, food, exercise and work and we’ll do almost anything to restore balance. And that’s what is about to happen.

All the horrifying stats will blend into the loss and injustice that surrounds us daily. Markets will adjust to another recessionary period - the type that gave us IBM, Disney, Microsoft and Electronic Arts. Customers will go back to buying all the same stuff they have for decades plus some new things like a family zoom account and a loo roll stash. Whether we like it or not we are about to enter a period of extreme hustling. There will be no slow ramp up through 2021. Desperate times require desperate measures and every business that has felt the squeeze needs to saddle up before your breakfast gets eaten from under you.

Just last week France, our nearest cousin, started to speak of relaxing movement in mid-may and my guess is we will follow a fortnight after in early June. Judging by my inbox the business world has woken up from its slumber and realised the game is back on. No matter how your brand was performing before the pandemic, the rules of catching up, keeping up and staying ahead of the competition will apply more now than ever.
“I should’ve listened to Mark Ritson” will adorn many a page in your moleskin notebooks.

So I’ll keep my advice as succinct as possible. If you cut through all the COVID-related content and frame your challenge in pure business terms, the same two universal forces and expected imperatives emerge. Customer and Brand. Normality will resume for both but remember that normality is not static. Normal has change baked-in.

Your existing and potential customers are still there. The only shift you have to be ready for is that, in quite a ‘normal’ way, they’ve discovered, by blunt corona force trauma, that digital tools are bloody useful. Nothing new to report here except your audience has had weeks or months to test how useful you are digitally and research if their money is better spent with your competitors (global and local). The quality of comms, speed of refunds, accommodating interfaces and added value will separate the haves and have-nots.

Strong brands with their compelling propositions and useful products are still there. The only shift you have to be ready for is discovering who, in quite a ‘normal’ way, has protected their budget or better still sourced further investment to spend money communicating, marketing and advertising. Those on the front foot will gain an exponential advantage over the next 18-24 months. Nothing new here either but you cannot allow your brand to shrink through fear, watching others accelerating away while just praying that things will be different this recession. The careful ones might be rewarded this time? Spoiler alert - They won’t be.

You only need to consider five things that will get you out of this mess:

  1. Optimise conversion - If you truly believe you’re going to have fewer customers then get them to return more often. If you think you’ll have more then control the flow so that it suits your business priorities and make every interaction count.

  2. Deliver a good user experience - I bet you’ve had to queue online during lockdown right? Hopefully, you hated it? Strive to remove friction for your customers as they’ll always thank you for ease and punish others for wasting their valuable time.

  3. Do brand marketing - whether its as simple as making sure you’re number one in organic and paid search, creating more engaging video content or cranking up your media schedule and ad frequency - visibility is a major priority. Find a way to do it because if you spend while others save you’ll get twice the bang for your buck.

  4. Turn functionality on - the majority of brands buy serious website tech (DXPs) but the last few months have shown us that they aren’t leveraging them to fulfil their potential - few do e-commerce properly, most don’t switch on even the most basic personalisation, and some have still not realised the benefits of elastic load balancing via cloud services.

  5. Make yourself a promise - that you’ll never forget this horrific globally shared experience, and make sure your brand and business, and the ones you represent in the future, are always seizing every opportunity and are ready for the next ‘unprecedented’ challenge.

Use this opportunity to catch up, keep up or simply stay ahead. There are many ways to ‘skin a cat’ so whether it's support in building business cases, pro bono reviews to help you assess the new challenge, finding alternative ways to pay and unlock VAT or designing project plans that help your replanned trajectory talk to your trusted partners and find the best way forward. Even better talk to us… you know where I am - at home :)

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Thumbnail Ian MacArthur
Ian MacArthur
Chief Experience Officer
Ian is a highly experienced and award-winning creative strategist specialising in bringing brands closer to their audiences through digital marketing transformation and optimisation. With over 26 years’ experience and well over 10,000 projects under his belt, Ian is proud to have worked with some of the world’s most impressive brands, helping them solve business problems and approach challenges differently.

Ian heads up the experience optimisation (XO) division at Sagittarius, working with all teams and clients across the business and globe.
Thumbnail Ian MacArthur

Ian MacArthur

20 Apr 2020 - 5 minute read
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