The last month has been a really long year for marketers. Pulling media, cutting budgets, re-allocating dollars, following crisis plans, BUILDING crisis plans, the list goes on. All we know is that business must keep going – even if from our living rooms.
So, where do we go from here?
The answer is the same one we are getting from the news every night: It depends.
The crisis is hitting different industries harder than others: Travel & Tourism is down for the count, restaurants and gyms must pivot to keep revenue streams, but CPG is in a pretty good place. Trader Joe’s just gave all of their employees a bonus because of “unprecedented sales volume,” so there is no one-size-fits-all move.
However, we have a unique opportunity to do good and raise the long-term equity of your brand through online channels, but it must make strategic sense. Your industry and your message matter. Throwing “One-Night-Free-Stay” offers at the internet and expecting them to perform is less than ideal, and would be insensitive to the crisis the world currently faces. But, a discount on grocery delivery for seniors might be a good move. Pete’s Coffee is running a digital display campaign promoting roasted coffee beans delivered to your door so you can make your favorite Pete’s coffee at home. No mention of the current COVID-19 virus, but just enough subtext. Brand equity is all about identifying consumer needs and meeting them efficiently – right now, people have needs that must be met.
For example, a large part of the workforce finds itself trapped inside for the foreseeable future. It is unlikely a specific offer pulls them out of their house, and people probably shouldn’t be enticed to leave when it is crucial we stay put. However, there is a portion of the workforce that lives on the front-lines of this virus – Nurses, Doctors, Hospital Staff, First-Responders, EMTs, Warehouse Workers. The list is even more vast once we start to really think about how crucial supply chains work. When utilizing precise geographic, demographic, and behavioral targeting, we are able to target these individuals who need specific deals to meet specific needs.
Online traffic is high right now, and advertisers are pulling out of placements while they re-evaluate. People need news and information, latest updates, and breaking stories – digitally, there is inventory to get in front of eyeballs currently glued to screens. This creates an opportunity where humans and business can come together – ie. targeting EMTs with delivery/drive-thru lunch deals while they are working near your store, in real-time. Not only does that help your brand and your bottomline, but it helps those who really need a warm meal to keep up with this medical emergency.
As we move into the back-half of 2020, brands will need to be mindful of people who have been out of work for weeks, months, or indefinitely. Budget-friendly offers, targeted to those who need them based on occupation, employment status, and location. The idea is to continue awareness and build equity throughout the crisis, so when the crisis is over, people will remember and respect your actions as life moves forward. Their pocket book might not be what it once was, but you were there for them and now they might try to be there for you.
We can’t predict where this will go, but during this isolation period there is a sense of togetherness while we are apart. Recognizing this and acknowledging the need for physical interaction might be a compelling brand push in the later months. Sending pop-ups to parks, geo-targeting gatherings, and BOGO-for-a-friend offers sound pretty good right now to all of us cooped-up inside. Complementing these larger efforts with a digital strategy would be a great way to get the word out (like including a Facebook coupon for in-store purchases), but the most important thing may be to encourage some togetherness after weeks online.
Business must keep going because the economy must keep going, but we do need to make sure we remain cognizant of the fact that we can’t keep advertising the same way we have been in the recent past. When this is over, and everyone starts poking their heads out of their homes, there will be new needs to meet with new strategies to meet them.
Dani Faringthon – Programmatic Purveyor