Few things have fundamentally altered all of our lives in ways that the COVID-19 health crisis has. The pandemic has managed to bring the entire planet to a standstill seemingly overnight, and few major industries have emerged from it unscathed. Even now, numerous businesses are operating in crisis mode: those that are able have transitioned a majority of their employees to remote work, while others have simply shuttered their doors—indefinitely.
There’s uncertainty on several fronts, putting many companies on edge. Currently, there’s no telling when things will get back to normal, or if they ever will. Quarantines and shelter-in-place orders are being issued in cities all over the world, and outdoor movement is being limited to mitigate the spread of the disease. It’s been a sobering time for everyone, and people are less likely to be receptive to marketing, or even spending money on non-necessities in the first place.
It’s on advertisers to keep brands relevant during these trying times, but they’ll have to drastically change the way they reach out to their intended audiences. Below are a few pointers on how to advertise and market successfully in the time of corona:
Leverage Non-Traditional Ways to Maintain Engagement
It’s safe to say that at this point, advertisers will have to shelve some of their more traditional marketing tactics. There’s not much point in running huge billboards or wall-to-wall subway ads when no one is around to see them. The fight for consumer attention is now being waged in the digital space instead. Most people are confined to their homes and are racking up an unprecedented amount of screen time, consuming online content and staying in touch through social media. The internet has become a window to the outside world for a majority of the population, and everyone is looking through it.
Advertisers can cut themselves a piece of that screen time pie in various ways. Sponsored digital content hosted on platforms like YouTube or the Bigo app can be very effective at keeping brands and products fresh in the minds of viewers. Companies can also make use of ads, specifically in-video ads and pop-up content. A comprehensive social media strategy should also be hugely beneficial at this time.
Give Meaning to Your Message
What your brand says and how it conveys its messaging matters more at this time than it ever has before. This health crisis is about the furthest thing imaginable from fun and games. It’s a very serious matter that deserves a certain amount of respect and gravitas.
There’s no cut-and-dry strategy here. How a brand presents itself to its audience will depend entirely on the image that it has projected so far. However, it’s always a better idea for a business to style itself as a force for good rather than evil in these challenging times. At this point, brands should be using their influence and reach to raise awareness in their audience and encourage civic engagement and participation in the community. Any content produced should be factual and verifiable.
The easiest way to appear good is to be good in the first place. There are countless ways that brands and businesses can help out frontline healthcare workers or contribute to grassroots community initiatives. Get creative and be helpful while remaining true to the brand’s image and values!
Invest in Interaction
One of the things that people are missing the most while we’re all under quarantine and practising strict social distancing is interaction. As humans, we all naturally crave connection. Fortunately, it’s possible to connect with audiences without having to be in the same room or even in the same location. Advertisers can play around with different social media and online content platforms to reach out to their audience directly. Brands can make themselves more relatable by tapping personalities to both humanise the experience and promote them. Using games and challenges is also a great way to get a brand’s audience involved and engaged.
Live online content has seen a surge in popularity, and many social media platforms support the feature, including YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and Facebook. Going live has allowed numerous brands and personalities to inform, entertain, and comfort stressed-out audiences in the thousands—even millions—all over the world. Advertisers can make use of this interactive function as well so that the brand message isn’t only going one way.
Now more than ever, brands should prioritise sensitivity over sales. Going with an aggressive marketing campaign at this time is extremely tone-deaf and will only serve to alienate existing and prospective consumers. Advertisers and marketers should craft their brand messaging thoughtfully but confidently, in a way that feels authentic and offers value to the audience. This way, it will resonate meaningfully and leave a longer-lasting impression.