Turning current events into opportunities through responsive marketing

by Kevin Lund, Chief Brand Officer, DCM

If CUPW members voted in favor of job action, they could legally strike by Sept. 26 after a ‘cooling off’ period, but Canada Post would also be legally able to lock them out on the same date… Even before the final votes were cast, companies like Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. were encouraging customers to register for online billing.” — The Toronto Star  

The threat of a strike at Canada Post—the government-run postal operator—has saturated the Canadian media for weeks. While the strike itself is no longer imminent, the dispute still lingers on — leaving consumers concerned and confused about what exactly a Canada Post strike would mean for them (and how long before the threat might rear its head again). It’s a fact that many of the biggest companies in Canada rely on the postal service to communicate and deliver products and services to their customers. And instead of easing their customers’ anxieties about the looming strike, these organizations are leaving them in the dark.

Enbridge Gas Distribution, on the other hand, turned this impending strike into an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with consumers. And it did this through proactive communications.

First, the company gave customers a warning of what would happen in the event of a strike. In this way Enbridge demonstrated a customer-first approach, and highlighted its role as a trusted partner (rather than just a commodity).

Second, and more importantly, Enbridge used the opportunity to offer an alternative — a practical workaround to paying bills during the strike. The company provided customers with information on digital billing. In this way, not only did Enbridge provide customers with value-added assistance, but also capitalized on an opportunity to alter consumer behavior by pushing them toward a more efficient, profitable service offering.

By distributing timely and relevant communications, Enbridge set an example other organizations should follow — keeping communications and marketing calendars flexible and responsive to current events.

Organizations that stick to a static marketing calendar could be missing out. By being responsive, organizations can turn a potential disruption of their businesses into a chance to improve their relationships with customers and drive results. But for this to work, organizations must be prepared to move the minute the disruption occurs — a task that can be challenging to undertake.

In a time when the business world is in a constant state of flux, organizations must do a better job of taking steps to stay on top of what’s happening in the markets and communicate to their customers how it impacts them. Having flexibility in marketing communications is key for overcoming many business challenges and staying ahead of ever-changing consumer behavior. Not only will such flexibility help improve ongoing customer relationships, but it will show thought leadership and position your organization as an industry leader.

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Kevin Lund is the Chief Brand Officer at DCM