A Guide to Advertising in Difficult Times and Potential Brand Benefits

Kelcie Rivera - May 5, 2020

The inability to predict what future impacts this pandemic will have, has many businesses bracing for major change. The potential for difficult times to linger within the coming months has also been speculated. During the last major period of uncertainty and difficulty in 2008, pulling back on marketing costs was typically the first change. Most businesses either went completely “dark” or cut back drastically on advertising spend. However, was this the best approach?

While what we are now facing may not be exactly a “normal”, comparable period, there are many lessons that can be applied from marketing decisions made in 2008. For starters, successful marketing during uncertain times is possible. Here are a few lessons and a few best practices to follow:

Reassess Before Reacting

Many businesses are inclined to hit the panic button and completely pull back on all marketing efforts. Remain calm and consider the effects going “dark” may have on your business. In 2008, companies who strategically invested in advertising, saw long-term profit growth. Reflect on the category your business is in, the likelihood of demand, and whether you have the resources to continue marketing.

Invest in Your Brand Long-Term

In 2008, many businesses cut back considerably on brand advertising, instead focusing on short-term activation campaigns. This tactic is unlikely to be best practice now as demand or supply may not exist for some categories in the period following the pandemic. If resources permit, shifting dollars to focus on brand building will likely have a positive long-term effect. Lack of branded advertising for your business may lead competitors to take advantage of lower category ad spend costs, increasing their market share over yours. During a period of recovery, regaining market share may be difficult and expensive should your brand choose to go “dark”.

Continue to Adjust Your Messaging

The implications of the pandemic may be felt for some time and in an effort to keep brand sentiment positive, maintaining the appropriate tone will be important for months to come. Mirroring content and messaging from 2008 may not be quite as effective, as the attitudes and behaviors of customers will vary during this time. Following live market trends and guidelines will be necessary. Appropriately catering to the mood of your customers, demonstrating empathy and solidarity, is the best rule of thumb businesses can follow in any period of difficulty.

If resources permit, plan for continuity of advertising that is focused on remaining competitive, appropriately reaching your target audience, and building positive brand sentiment.

If you need assistance in adjusting your digital marketing strategy to meet the demands and challenges of the shifting marketplace, please email us at info@morevisibility.com.

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