We all know that COVID-19 has had a transformative impact on content, marketing strategies, and the way we work (in fact, NewsCred recently hired Sirkin Research to conduct a survey to determine the specific impact of the coronavirus on marketing teams).

However, we wanted to speak directly to marketing directors around the world to see how they lead their teams in these unprecedented times.

Yannick De Smet.JPG

Yannick De Smet is Executive Manager Marketing and Communication at G4S. His role oversees the marketing, communications, bidding, and sales support functions that promote and support consultative sales across the company.

As a complex security company, G4S has a unique process for selling to customers and prospects. With various services on offer, their advisory sales approach helps educate their customers and provide them with all the information they need before entering the sales cycle and through to purchase.

What does it take to maintain a uniform brand voice and workflow across all of G4S's marketing and sales teams?

Yannick De Smet: First of all, the sales teams need a common language at all levels – both country and regional levels in Europe, Africa, APAC and America, both north and south. The creation of a uniform type of communication with our customers is therefore a priority. Because sales should also communicate and the same use of words should mean the same across all teams, we know it has an impact on trust and brand. We are currently creating a uniform language for security and risk analysis.

Where do the brand language guidelines currently live? Do you currently have a framework or template that everyone is working to?

De Smet: We have global branding guidelines and we have the tools we need to ensure consistency of all images. So all images, videos and content are centralized. We have access to all assets from anywhere if we need to. There is a system for centralizing all marketing data, documents and content. We also rely on the diligence of our team.

Is there a digital asset manager who works on a global scale?

De Smet: We use a shared Google Drive that has all of the branding guidelines and templates in it, but each country and region has its own workflow. We have auditors who are tasked with managing all of the assets created in each region so that everything complies with brand guidelines. For the most part, however, every marketing director and manager follows brand guidelines.

How has COVID-19 changed your marketing and communication strategy?

De Smet: Marketing and communication have changed significantly for all companies and we were no exception. Selling wasn't a priority. Communication was our top priority. And within that time frame we said, "Okay, what do we have to do first?" It's like first aid in a car accident. The first thing you have to do is protect ourselves our customers and ultimately our business.

At the beginning of COVID, we had a regional meeting to identify elements of communication that will be used globally so that we can deliver a cohesive message to all of our customers. Then the marketing and communications team became part of the crisis management team and we all worked together.

Information and communication went very quickly. No second hand information exchange was required, everything was first hand information exchange. We relied on social media and email to communicate quickly with our customers. We also used some operational tools that we used to send messages to our employees.

Have you thought about using a project management tool for communication and marketing?

De Smet: Not yet. I think mainly because the marketing teams within G4S aren't massive and we're pretty lean. A project management tool would be most beneficial by standardizing processes on a regional and global level. I think project management is difficult sometimes because it can be very personal and it is difficult to find the right balance. There is room for improvement in terms of calendar, planning and budgeting so that our teams can work more effectively. As of today we rely on Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets. It does the trick, but is it optimal? Something built for this purpose would fit better. Again, it is very difficult to get information if you want a global or regional overview.

Are you responsible for developing marketing campaigns and strategies?

De Smet: Yes. I am responsible for Belgium, Luxembourg and France on this matter. We define each of these points based on the overall strategy for the country. In this case, for the three countries Luxembourg, Belgium and France, we define the campaign and develop the desired campaigns and bring them to the market, using the existing channels, which are mainly online channels.

What surprised you about the behavior of people and the use of technology in 2020?

De Smet: Not too much surprised me, but before COVID we would never have used a collaboration tool like Google. We have pushed the use of technology to its limits and have been creative in our approach to remote working and collaboration. COVID made us all think outside the box.

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Originally published on October 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm


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