How to adapt your marketing strategy to the current market
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by founders pulling back marketing and advertising spending due to COVID-19. The rapidly changing climate today has fundamentally changed the landscape of marketing and advertising.
From March to June, ad spend is expected to be down 39%, and more than a quarter of Interactive Participants at the Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that they had fully withdrawn their advertising for the second quarter. Maybe many marketers think of American Apparel products disastrously received discount campaign during Hurricane Sandy and are considering not taking advantage for fear of poor public perception.
And yet there is an opposite argument. During the times like these, businesses that have access to content, services and products that help consumers in need may be in a better position to get a head start in their marketing efforts, according to Destination CRM.
According to Cone, 87% of consumers are more likely to buy a product if they know the company behind it supports the causes and beliefs they care about. I think these feelings are further exacerbated in times of uncertainty where the types of businesses that can make a real difference in people’s lives, like consumer packaged goods or startups directly to consumers, can communicate their values of sustainable and beneficial way.
Therefore, for specific tech companies and startups, this can be a good opportunity to invest in marketing if, and only yes, you are leading with the right strategy. This strategy should include: a respect for the moment in creative execution, offering tangible help and relational value to your product, and a localized targeting strategy. With these tactics, the marketers within these companies can position themselves the best they can in these difficult times.
Respect the moment
Marketers need to creatively adhere to the moment and reflect the mood of the audience in relation to their product. The key to this is to focus on emotional engagement: letting consumers know that a brand understands their immediate wants and needs, even without the financial rewards that come with it.
FCA’s Jeep ads are a good example in the current crisis. Communicating the message At “Stay Home,” Jeep manages to distinguish between social responsibility and the brand-conscious message of its off-road roots.
Another example is Dial Soap. The dial has changed his mailbox and provided public service messages for washing hands, as well as guides and editorial content on how best to do it. As a result, the company sees the number of ad impressions increase by 25% per day.
Sounds simple, right? Focus all of your creative efforts on understanding the mood, channeling it into your message, and delivering real, honest value to other consumers. Even with these lessons, there is still a big pitfall in the creative toolbox.
Specifically, marketers should do everything possible to avoid irresponsible “virtue signals” in the aftermath of a disaster. If a post doesn’t seem right to you or isn’t appropriate for the moment, it probably isn’t and you should avoid commenting or communicating unnecessarily. This is especially true if your product or brand has no utility value compared to the current situation.
Leading with help and value
One of the most powerful statements a marketer can make at times like these is to lead with help and value. It means using built-in expertise or even product manufacturing capability to lend a helping hand and deliver tangible value.
Good examples of this in the current crisis include many distilleries, like Spirit of York in Toronto, Canada, moving to make hand sanitizer, and chef José Andres offer meals to passengers stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship.
While the opportunity cost of providing assistance where it is most needed versus the potential for lost business during retooling may not be worth it, it is considered valuable in the long run.
For marketers, this process is easy to start. First, research what you think are the most pressing needs for the entire community.
Second, get together with your team to see what products or services you can easily offer. For distillers, they can easily make and produce alcohol. For restaurants, the same goes for prepared meals. Find your unique contribution.
Because the impacts of a disaster, like COVID-19, can be widespread but unevenly impacting, marketers must be precise and laser-focused to target their message. For example, a shortage of essential supplies and raw materials in one part of the country can cause a direct-to-consumer start-up to reinforce their message in a market to ensure there is a supply. Or, a group of consumer products can adapt scheduled announcements when certain items may be back in stock in specific areas.
These types of utilities provide consumers with value and, more importantly, certainty, when needed.
Marketers can use more common tools, like Google and Oracle, to enable this type of targeting, but independent platforms also offer an advantage. For example, Moz offers a suite of proximity features with search ads, allowing marketers to further leverage user intent at the point of entry.
Do the right thing
Global crises can cause startups and businesses to suspend or cut all marketing and advertising spending. While understandable, the marketers of these companies should view the present moment as an opportunity to invest in their communication strategies. To do this, they must creatively respect the mood of the audience, bring utilitarian value to their consumers and hyper-target their message.