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Advertising During a Global Pandemic

Haley Cook
Apr 16th, 2020 Advertising, Marketing

It goes without saying, this is a scary time. Not only are we in quarantine, but businesses are losing money, people are losing jobs, and the state of the global economy is uncertain. You may be ready to start advertising, but with everything going on, maybe you aren't sure how. How do you stay sensitive to the events around you but also market your business?

This is an interesting time in the digital landscape. With the stay at home orders, people are inside and online more than ever, spending much of their time glued to their screens. Most people are seeing more ads than usual in a typical day. Can you leverage this? How do you advertise when you know financial issues are looming for many?

Advertising doesn't mean you're tone deaf

It isn't the fact that you are advertising that will turn people off, it's if you're crass or insensitive about it. How you craft your messaging and what you say are imperative to your advertising efforts. Choose the most meaningful path here—what true value are you adding to your consumers' lives? Are you keeping them safe, clean, entertained, etc.? As this quarantine life is giving us ample time and reason to evaluate what is truly important in life, take that same inventory of your business and drill down to hone in on the meaningful impact you can have. That's your best message.

For example, Lowe's home improvement has shifted its messaging to maintain positivity. Their Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Marisa Thalberg, was quoted as saying, "Home has never mattered more, and we can’t begin to unpack the new emotional importance of home." She's definitely not wrong. I would read or watch any content talking about how to improve my home, change up the decor, and make it look like a magazine ad.

Additionally, creating content that gives people things to do instead of just selling products gives you added value. A lot of products won't do too much good right now, but while everyone is stuck inside, they are looking for new things to do. Maybe it's a live cooking class, a workout or yoga session, or how to budget your money. Get creative. Whatever your brand can offer, deliver it. People will be grateful, engaged, and are more likely to continue to connect with you long after the pandemic passes.

In addition, losing your foothold in the marketplace right now could have detrimental effects in the long run. If you choose to voluntarily cut your ad spending, your competition will have more opportunity to get in front of your (former) potential consumers, making it that much harder to get back into your client pool when things open back up. On the flip side, some people will choose (or be forced) to cut spend on advertising. This is an opportunity for you to keep your status quo (or increase your spend if you're capable) to access more potential business than before.

This doesn't mean change your branding

It can seem daunting to stay the course in a downturn, but keep your branding. It may feel like your tone of voice doesn't fit the market right now. Or you may be ready to move downmarket to reach a new audience that is more willing to spend money with you. However, this has its downfalls. Imagine trying to regain your previous audience when the market shifts back towards normal. The imbalance between the two personas you've created will cause some massive mistrust in your client base, causing a downturn when really you should be growing. Not to mention, if you already have a loyal fan base, they can get confused by your change in branding.

People value authenticity, and with the mindset shift of this pandemic and quarantine, I think it's fair to say that is only becoming more and more true. Stay true to who you are, what your business is, and you will be better off for it. Branding is at the heart of your business, and this is the time to remind your consumer why you matter to the world.

Understand your audience

This might seem basic—it's important to understand your audience. In the time of an impending recession, it is even more so. Who are they? Are they working adults with children who are now doing school from home? Are they young adults working from home looking for contactless delivery on their favorite items? Are they former service industry professionals looking for new opportunities?

Ultimately your audience needs a friend and to know that your brand cares about them. Solve their problems. Be a source of comfort. And pro tip: you can also allude to the pandemic around us while not flat out saying it. AdParlor gives the example of a soap company saying "Spread love, not germs." This helps to not inundate your consumer with constant streams of fear and anxiety about what is happening. Those are definitely not feelings you want to be associated with your business either. (But do bring up specifics if it's in line with your offerings —we trust you can figure that out.)

These are all important factors that will play into purchase decisions right now. If you can do contactless delivery, do it. If you can advertise sterile bags, do that. Let your audience know you have procedures in place for your services to ensure maximum safety for both parties. Remember that meaningful message we talked about earlier? Tie it directly to your offerings, and you've got an ad. Even more important, you have an effective ad.

So what are some actions you can take in the now?

  • If you have the funds, keep advertising. Stay consistent and keep the leads coming in. (If you don't, apply these same rules to your organic content.)
  • Review your messaging. Make sure it's meaningful and adds value, specifically in this climate.
  • Stay true to your brand.
  • Instead of conversions, think brand awareness. Then, once the economy evens out or stabilizes, your brand will be well known and conversions can grow.

Keep on keepin' on

First and foremost, this recession will end. When that happens, all the marketing you have done in this downturn will not go to waste. This is truly a time where record levels of trust can be built with your consumer base, and that might be even more powerful than your marketing efforts. But that won't happen if you don't help that along.

We know this is a tough and confusing time regardless of if you are taking advantage of advertising efforts or not. As always, we want to help you. If you have any questions, send them our way.

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