It has been three months since India went under lockdown. The country is slowly opening up now. The recent outbreak of the COVID – 19 has caused a tectonic shift in most people’s lives.
WFH is the new norm now, many companies are now willing to extend this facility even after the lockdown is lifted. In our endeavour of bringing our readers views from a wide variety of stakeholders in the industry Medianews4u spoke to Mehul Gupta, Co-founder & CEO, SoCheers.
As WFH is the new culture which will be adopted by many companies, how have you positioned yourself?
We are a young organisation with 100% millennial people in our family. Our position on WFH has been pretty adaptive & flexible. Being digital savvy, our people have always preferred being behind a screen to get their work done, so it’s been extremely easy for us to adapt and continue delivering the same, if not more, to our clients even while WFH.
At an organisational level, internally, we have opened up our communication channels for everyone to express any discomfort at any point, so that we can quickly resolve it.
At a client level, we have reached out to our clients & enabled them to trust us to continue delivering with the same fervour as before.
During this lockdown many Brand communication has changed, your thoughts?
Yes, of course. The communication has had to change. When people fully started understanding the current pandemic, the conversations on digital became anxious, negative with the fear of the unknown. At a time like this, a lot of brands have had to take up the responsibility of spreading awareness using the ‘We are in this together’ messaging. A lot of brands have used this as an opportunity to push their products through the shelves. Overall, the messaging revolved around information, about being hopeful, how we’ll get through this and a lot about being empathic & sensitive to everyone around us.
What kind of communication tools have been developed to help clients?
Meetings have moved virtual, so all client meetings are now on the variety of online meeting apps available. Through real-time collaboration tools like Google Docs, Sheets & Slides, constant correspondence with the client is possible and work is seamlessly happening. Weekly, fortnightly update reports and calls are set to keep them updated on everything that is on track. The best part is that a lot of our clients are digitally savvy too, so all of these mechanisms were already in place and hence we did not spend much time in transitioning.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies?
We are overall also seeing a lot of interest being directed into digital at the client end. To match this interest, we are also working on pitching deeper digital integrations into their marketing strategies by investing time in educating them about the possibilities of digital.
Simple one is to continue to give the end consumer what they want. Consumers have had a transitional time through this pandemic, their needs have changed. Their mindsets of what they need and what they want have changed. They have become more conscious about a variety of things. If that means taking a hard look at your product & service and asking yourself the difficult question of ‘Does this add value to the person who has just been through a pandemic?’ On the marketing front too, advice would be to not hard sell, do not turn a blind eye towards consumer sentiments and take time to know what is important to them. If you connect with them on a level where they feel aligned, they are more likely to continue buying your product/service.
As a Communication and strategy expert, what are your thoughts on this unprecedented pandemic?
Like you have put it rightly, it is unprecedented. No one was prepared for what was coming their way. But the way people have adapted to the challenges and taken it in their stride, is considerable. I think that this pandemic is like a forced way for us to course-correct our lives. In the face of a pandemic that has slowed down the world, people have become more grateful and empathic.
From an internal perspective, it’s made us realise the significance of internal communications and the importance of trust that you need to put in your teams.
From a client perspective, they have become a lot more dependent on digital since not many marketing avenues are as lucrative to reach their customer right now. This will help the digital industry boom further, but that also means competition between agencies will rise as Creative/PR market leaders will focus on strengthening their digital expertise.
Positivity during the lockdown?
At the start of WFH, we established that we will be having transparency in all communications with everyone in the agency. Since their digital feeds were already full of anxious news and fear of what’s going to happen next, we made sure we were reaching out to everyone to check up on them and keep up their morale. SoCheers has always been a place where we encourage people to express themselves, so that no one ever feels out of place. On a weekly basis, we have the entire team come together to ideate on all our brands. Once every 2-3 weeks, we do fun town hall meetings where we bring the team up-to-speed with everything that is happening, keep them apprised of the brilliant work done while trying to address factors which are affecting them. A session on the importance of knowing when to switch off with Curefit, helped with some people feeling extremely overwhelmed with work & home chores. We also do some engaging music-driven activities for all employees, ex-employees and clients called “Cheerland,” a LIVE session on Instagram where some of our people perform music, poetry while the whole organization tunes in for a positive and fun time.
A learning and a message to the young millennials.
This is just a passing phase. It’s going to be one of those things you look back and think, that despite the uncertainties, you were able to make it through by developing yourself and being the best version of yourself during one of the most difficult phases the world has faced. Be patient and hopeful. Like everything else, this tough phase too shall pass.