There are times in both life and business when certain events are simply out of your control. With the World Health Organization (WHO) now officially calling COVID-19 a global pandemic and sending the markets reeling, now is one of those times.
Every business, including ours at JUST, must quickly adjust and adapt on a daily basis in response to the impact on our local and global communities. While we don’t profess to be psychology experts to help with your home life (on Monday we start home schooling our kids), we can offer some thoughts in finding marketing balance in disruption.
Now is the most important time to examine core customer needs and how you’re addressing them appropriately. Use a microscope to examine your messaging and media mix to make smart adjustments aimed towards sustainability.
With that, here are a few thoughts on what marketers can do to stay nimble and ensure business carries forward.
MINE YOUR BRAND AND THINK DIGITAL
It’s not business-as-usual, so there’s opportunities to defy old mindsets and creatively explore more innovative solutions. While traditional media has had a nice renaissance in a world filled with digital noise, unfortunately it’s going to take the biggest hit right now; specifically, live events, OOH, terrestrial radio, and print. Companies should double-down on their digital strategy based on rapidly changing user behavior, cost efficiencies, and data optimization opportunities.
People simply aren’t attending events. People aren’t flying. People aren’t commuting. Think about both the short-term and long-term here. Use this as an opportunity to rethink how you do things in general. If you host or attend events, this is chance to ensure everything you do in the future has a digital and/or live streaming component. If you are a field marketer, now is your chance to dive into new ways of doing things. Use social platforms to get access to a deeper and wider audience for your content. Consider Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn’s Live features.
That said, we are already starting to see performance media channels dipping in terms of cost per conversation. The world is distracted right now. This could pass, but for now pushing out offers is going to be harder. Consider focusing on brand awareness using tight copy, impactful imagery, and short-form video. Mine your brand. People are still engaging with digital channels, but they are not as quick to give you their reg info right now.
Digital-first thinking means extending your brand purpose well beyond your website. For example, layer site retargeting strategies with a precise-audience display and social media campaign to increase frequency. Social will also allow you to be nimbler in your copy changes as situations evolve.
It is said that Americans spend 19 full workdays a year driving to work in their cars. With most companies in urban areas requiring work-from-home, this means less people are engaging with your radio messaging. User behavior will shift even more quickly to streaming audio channels. With programmatic audio buys now allowing advertisers to get even more targeted with their audio buys, you can still use your audio messaging, but just shift it to digital.
While the world has been shifting to chord cutters and in-home entertainment experiences, Connected TV this is only going to accelerate with more people staying home. This could be an opportunity to prepare for the shifted consumer habits for the long-term.
SWITCH UP BRAND MESSAGING TO RESONATE
Think clearly through your messaging strategy with your internal employees, customers, and prospects. You want to align your value proposition with the global impact taking place, including social distancing and an extremely volatile economy.
What is the mindset of your customers? Audience segmentations by job function, demographics, age, geography, etc., might need to shift to segmenting by consumers emotional states given those social circumstances. Your brand might have a different value based on consumer’s confidence, trust in business and economy, and embracing of lifestyle changes.
The tone of your messaging needs to change. Focus on adding value to your audience and their well-being. Take this time to educate them on how your product and/or solutions will help them. For example, we recently received a message from LinkedIn alerting us to a “How to Host Virtual Events on LinkedIn” webinar. This is way more impactful than if they had sent an email saying how great LinkedIn is at driving leads.
Moreover, leaning into your company’s core competencies coupled with shorter-term incentives could be the most reliable strategy.
PROJECT CONFIDENCE INTO LONG-TERM PLANNING
While competitors may be bowing out of the market, it’s a good time to maintain with a constant share-of-voice which will set up your brand up for success in the long-term.
Certain businesses like Clorox might need to pause advertising due to decreased inventory and threats of inciting public hysteria; similar to face mask ads being blocked from Google and Facebook.
There are instances where your brand might need to pull content to avoid unsensitive images. According to Ad Age, Hershey Co. has “pulled two ads featuring Bob Williams and Diggy Moreland handing out Hershey bars to strangers and greeting them with hugs or handshakes, replacing them with ads featuring just chocolate bars, text and a voiceover.”
For all other intents-and-purposes, pulling back your ad spend might feel instinctual but usually does not play out in the long run. Instead, work to build and maintain a strong brand identity that emotes trust and favorability to reduce business risks. By maintain your share-of-voice in the market, your brand can project confidence and trust. Your message is more likely to be noticed with fewer ads in the market as well.
Stay nimble. People simply need to think outside of their traditional lanes and try fluidity between tactics. If you’re an event marketer, use this as opportunity to learn more about digital events and video distribution. If you’re a digital marketer, use this as an opportunity to share your knowledge and advance your organization.
Remain the champion of your brand’s purpose. Now is the time for us to come together as a nation and globally to support each other, set differences aside, and find ways to keep business and life moving forward.
For the most current information on COVID-19 please refer to cdc.gov.