Prevent Your Brand From Getting Cabin Fever: New Approaches To Marketing In Challenging Times
Here’s the thing about literal cabin fever: it happens when people can’t survive outside. Skilled adventurers know how to navigate the surrounding climate, terrain, and ecosystem. They also have a keen understanding of what they’re getting into before stepping outside to brave the elements. If you want to think outside the box, you need to think like an explorer—and that isn’t easy. With knowledge, thoughtful planning, and creativity, it’s possible to get to a place where your brand can weather this moment in history.
Add Something To The Conversation – In A Productive Way
In the face of uncertain times, a soothing Mr. Rogers quote usually surfaces on Twitter and Facebook:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Instead of leaning on this idea for comfort, think about it as a form of empowerment. What can you and your people do to help friends, family, and medical professionals? Companies with some of the largest marketing and manufacturing budgets in the world are utilizing these resources to assemble a force for good. Anheuser-Busch turned their Van Nuys facility into a hand sanitizer plant and has plans to help the Red Cross turn empty stadiums into blood donation centers. Fashion giants including Christian Siriano and Prada will use their resources to sew hospital gowns and masks for medical professionals. Ford, GE Healthcare, and 3M forged their “Project Apollo” partnership to produce hospital-grade respirators. These titans, among countless others, are offering desperately needed assistance while keeping people employed and gaining positive brand awareness.
Anheuser-Busch brand awareness that is simple, timely, and productive.
Others, on the other hand, are falling short. McDonalds, Hershey, and Coors Light all came under fire for attempting to join the conversation with hollow, and frankly insensitive, approaches. Specifically, McDonald’s attempted to join the conversation surrounding social distancing practices by separating their Golden Arches in Brazil.
McDonald’s social distancing campaign attempted to show compassion, but their workplace policies led the message to feel hollow to consumers.
This ad immediately came under fire due to the company’s ongoing refusal to offer paid sick leave to workers. McDonald’s learned its lesson: right now, it matters what a brand is both doing and saying.
Even if your firm isn’t a marketing behemoth, there are ways to support, uplift, and contribute as a company. These efforts are key to maintaining client loyalty and sales during economic hiccups—even if it is a temporary moment in time. MNI Targeted Media recently published a piece on brand preservation in challenging times. Specifically, they emphasized the importance of curating messages that demonstrate empathy with consumers. So get your thinking cap on and brainstorm ways your team can help. Do you know someone with a 3D Printer? Show them where to download this free hospital mask template. Does an employee of yours sew? Help them make some surgical masks. With thousands of ways to join in the fight, adding a productive voice to the conversation while laying off the snark can make a huge difference.
Keep Busy, And Show It
With millions working from home right now, some journalists are calling this time a great experiment—with the potential to change the dynamics of corporate employment for years to come. But, just because you’re sitting in on Zoom meetings from your dining room table doesn’t mean clients realize that. Show your staff being productive. Letting people know that you’re busy at a distance also creates a sense of comradery. It reminds friends, family, and clients that we’re all in this together.
Inclusive Language Matters
While social distancing, it’s crucial to remember we are not alone. In the same vein, communications experts suggest that workers use inclusive language like “team,” we,” and “us” as a simple method of reminding colleagues that everyone is trying to achieve a similar goal. Successful interactions with target audiences can stem from this concept as well. In the Anheuser-Busch ad mentioned earlier, designers made a distinctive, purposeful choice to include “we” and “our” in the handful of words for that banner. It’s a way to include, to rally others to their message.
Your Partnerships Matter
At a time when 1 in 4 ad execs have paused advertising spending for the first and second quarters of 2020, relationships matter more than ever. And, no, we’re not necessarily talking about your clients—we’re talking about your business partners. Media planners and buyers have a unique perspective on this current climate, and likely have a few tricks up their sleeve.
Going along with established routes to reach clients is doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when consumers are working, communicating, and even eating differently. Think of this time as an opportunity to empower clients to try something new. There are more ways than ever to reach an audience, so find out what’s available from those who know best.
As a side note, keep in mind the statistic mentioned above doesn’t mean advertising and marketing will cease to exist. Some ad execs may be pausing to re-strategize or have clients who simply can’t promote their services because they’re considered a non-essential business. Plus, some marketing teams could be dealing with clients who simply don’t want to risk changing their tried-and-true methods of reaching audiences. That’s why it’s so important to collaborate with groups who on the same side of the creative process. The most creative solutions don’t come from a single voice, they come from a chorus of experts.
The Glass Is Half Full
With all of the uncertainties swirling around the news these days, it’s easy to panic. But, stay calm. Remember that time is also an opportunity to hone your company’s voice—and even grow sales.
When it comes to prioritizing brand visibility, a century’s worth of data is on your side. Research analyzing sales all the way back to the 1920s shows that there are multiple advantages to launching creative brand campaigns during downturns. Companies that maintained their advertising budgets while others cut back during economic slumps saw growth both during and after the slowdowns in question. These outcomes make sense. With less market saturation from competitors and lower prices for ad placements, it’s easier for a brand to shine.
Keeping your brand active while providing meaningful contributions to this public health effort can forge a sense of community. Keep writing, talking, and helping. This moment for creativity is one where your people and your brand can make a difference.
For more ideas on strategy, tactics and making your marketing work harder, get in touch.