We are living in a time where many of us are doing anything we can to avoid the B-word. This is evidently quite a challenge, as we are constantly surrounded by incessant speculation about the aforementioned B-word. And speculate is all we can do at this stage as it is hard to accurately predict the effect Brexit will have on UK businesses and, by extension, marketers.
With a ‘no deal’ Brexit looking increasingly likely, an abrupt withdrawal from the European Union (EU) is suddenly a real and tangible event that needs to be planned for. Ahead of tonight’s pivotal vote – the outcome of which is looking to be tilted towards a no-deal Brexit – it is imperative that marketers start implementing contingency plans that prepare for variable outcomes.
Even those who are wholeheartedly in favour of Brexit, must surely harbour a few doubts or concerns for the near-future of British businesses as they prepare to enter a tumultuous period of transition.
Marketing Week reported on a recent survey that revealed, “The majority of business leaders in Britain are concerned about the future of the nation’s economic condition, with many saying they expect it to decline. A survey of the UK’s 500 largest listed and private companies found 74 [per cent] are pessimistic about 2019, up [eight] percentage points from last year and likely linked to concerns about Brexit.”
With nearly three quarters of the UK’s top companies voicing their trepidation about the future, it’s highly likely that this reflects similar worries of smaller businesses across the country. Hopefully, this will initiate a widespread surge in proactive marketing.
Despite concerns about the effect Brexit will have on the Digital Single Market, marketers will have to rely more heavily on digital strategy as the physical barriers and restrictions between the UK and the rest of Europe become increasingly felt.
Marketers need to readjust their position before Brexit, so their campaigns are not solely reactionary, but well thought out and researched. HSBC have had a controversial start to 2019, with their “We are not an island” campaign, upsetting many people who claim the ad is anti-Brexit.
The advert has sparked much debate about their intentions and their authenticity, but regardless they are tapping into the current political moment and capitalising on it to gain attention. Others should follow suit, but perhaps in a slightly more subtle, or overt, way to avoid claims of dog-whistling.
Digital To The Rescue?
A senior research analyst at Enders, Matti Littunen, predicts that, “The advertiser response [to a no-deal Brexit] will be to become more tactical in allocating advertising spend.” A sensible tactic for this reallocation would be to invest in digital marketing. Although growth is expected to halt across digital platforms, it is still predicted to outperform other forms of advertising. Littunen goes on to say, “with declines across all other media, on a relative basis the shift [of ad spend] online would accelerate. Search advertising would be less affected.” (The Guardian)
In the desolate landscape of a no-deal Brexit, digital marketing will be cast in the role of the battered, but comparatively heroic knight who can be called upon to lead the advertising charge for 2019.
However, this does not mean that you can sit back secure in the knowledge that digital will triumph. Marketers will have to work harder than ever to engage with their hesitant customer base and now is the time to start putting these strategies in place. It is time to embody the spirit of Brexit stockpilers and take up their motto: preparation is key.