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Covid: One year on 6 Apr 2021 - 2 min read

American Express Marketing Director: Efficiency-obsessed brands through Covid ‘have a lot of ground to make up’

By Lisa de Vere White, Marketing Director - American Express + Marketing Academy Scholar, 2021

The SME pandemic recovery presents an opportunity for brands to demonstrate their support for local businesses, Lisa de Vere White says. Those who are flexible, keep brand building and invest in the whole marketing funnel will thrive.

During the pandemic much of the marketing industry leaned too heavily towards efficiency in marketing activities, at the expense of larger brand building activities.

Lisa de Vere White, Marketing Director, American Express

Brand versus efficiency

I believe that during the pandemic much of the marketing industry leaned too heavily towards efficiency in marketing activities, at the expense of larger brand building activities. I am a strong advocate of distributing budgets and activity across the entire customer decision funnel – from initial consideration, to learning more about a product, to finally making a purchasing decision.

We need to remember that no one wakes up thinking about our products or brands, and if we choose to only develop assets for the bottom of the funnel – the purchase phase – we have ignored the critical first steps. This is not news, but companies that did not invest in all elements during the pandemic have a lot of ground to make up.

No one wakes up thinking about our products or brands, and if we choose to only develop assets for the bottom of the funnel – the purchase phase – we have ignored the critical first steps.

Lisa de Vere White, Marketing Director, American Express

Travel bugs

Who is ready to travel again? I know I am – and I’m not alone. The recent American Express Travel: Global Travel Trends Report shows that there is pent-up demand for travel, with many longing and planning for future trips.

In fact, two thirds of respondents from Australia said they would give up social media for an entire month in order to be able to travel safely. Fully 59% said they would give up their phone. The research also showed new travel trends, like the appeal of working from anywhere while traveling globally, luxury being defined as more personalised experiences, and a growing interest in the environmental and social purpose of trips and travel companies.

Support for local steps up

According to another American Express study, the SME Recovery Survey, small business operators say that despite the challenges of the past 12 months, 53% are feeling optimistic about what the year ahead holds for them. However, with the end of JobKeeper – which according to over half (54%) of small businesses was a valuable support during the pandemic – ongoing customer support is vital.

I am proud of our ongoing support of local businesses with our Shop Small initiative which incentivises Amex Card Members to spend where it is needed most.

Equally important, given the impact on vulnerable communities during and beyond Covid, we are constantly reaching out to our community partners to see how we can provide additional support. During the height of the pandemic, we ran a campaign for our community partner Two Good Co, which supports women who have experienced family and domestic abuse, to encourage our customers to provide support. Investing in initiatives like these is a key part of supporting communities.

Flexibility versus culture

I come from an organisation that has a great culture that supports flexible working arrangements. From returning to work post maternity leave in a part-time capacity, to today having every Friday morning off to spend time with my gorgeous four-year-old, I know first-hand the appreciation this brings.

The key challenge now is how to find the balance between working from home versus the office and how to maintain a thriving culture that makes an organisation hum. This is something I believe we will continually need to focus on and be willing to share experiences about across the industry in our post-Covid world.

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