While it is understandable to be cautious right now, brands should be careful about going too quiet during these unprecedented times of a worldwide pandemic and social unrest. While the last several months have certainly changed how we see everything, including greeting our neighbor and buying toilet paper, things will keep moving on. Even though consumer budgets may be tightened during times of uncertainty, people still need and want to shop, and they will still purchase from the brands they feel most loyal to.
As marketers, we understand human nature.
We realize that consumers are fickle and have short memories. They most often sway toward the brands, places and labels that are most familiar to them, who speak to their needs and who they trust. And it is safe to assume that there is some pent-up consumer demand. Brands can help consumers stay optimistic by being optimistic themselves … keep the dialogue going with your core enthusiasts.
As this article from Marketing Dive alludes, the initial response of most brands when COVID-19 hit was to preserve cash flow by delaying or cancelling advertising spending.
It’s the natural reaction to buckle down for the storm.
However, if a brand is too cautious in “saving their gun powder” and refusing to invest in marketing, then they will lose their valuable position in their target consumer’s head space and it will cost much more to get it back later.
Explore Communications’ client, Downtown Boulder Partnership, is a wonderful example of a current advertiser who understands that they need to be in communication with their visitors and consumers. We have proudly worked with Downtown Boulder for over ten years and continue to be impressed with their forward-thinking approach to marketing. They are now launching a recovery campaign to tell all visitors “Yes, We’re Open!”, which is critical because people are unsure what’s open and what’s not.
The next phase of their messaging will emphasize to Boulder residents and the Front Range that “We’re Back Boulder!” They are also planning to tag most ads with #LovetheLocal to drive consumers to this awesome page.
Downtown Boulder has developed this marketing plan with careful consideration and research to be certain that they were LISTENING.
It is critical now that brands do not operate in a bubble.
Downtown Boulder partnered closely with the Boulder CVB to make sure resources are being used effectively and that messaging is working together. They also sought out information from local business and merchants, industry trends, local and national surveys, best practices and input from consumers. At the same time, Explore Communications evolved Downtown Boulder’s original 2020 media plan to match with the current circumstances and current consumer behavior as well.
As the world has experienced very real changes in just a few months, marketers are going to need to do the same. We need to be on our toes more than ever. The cultural events that are happening are “accelerating the pace of change”. Advertising opportunities will appear out of nowhere and will disappear just as quickly within our ever-changing market. Brand platforms will evolve and shrink and grow and we need to watch closely how consumers are responding to their new communication options. The magic (and most important) questions in advertising … “What is the target segment doing, thinking and saying? Where are they spending their time and attention?”.
Brands and agencies need to be more agile, creative and resourceful than ever, but also need to realize that they cannot disappear-from-view or they will lose their place in line.
The brands who shift back to prioritizing growth and prosperity are the ones that will prevail!
We will bounce back! America is an amazing country. Be sure your brand is ahead of the game, front and center, so it can grow and evolve with our dynamic world.