Tips for Advertisers During COVID-19

Joe Mineo
March 16, 2020

In times of crisis, people usually band together. However, in times of virus, people are being asked to stay as far away from each other as possible

There’s a lot to unpack if you’re a business that has either just launched, operates in public, relies on this time of year for a large chunk of revenue, or is hosting an event that’s being asked to cancel. Luckily, there are ways to ride out the storm and navigate in a positive manner.

Listen before you speak 

Before you publish messaging or enact a new strategy in response to this crisis, take the time to listen. What are members of your audience and larger digital community saying? What are they asking for? Making the effort to gather this intelligence will help your business make more informed and thoughtful decisions. 

It’s also important to monitor the messaging outlets utilized by your peers. What are they saying about their brand, product, or service? Has any of their messaging gained an overwhelming positive response? What about a negative response? Gather these insights now so that when it’s time to speak up, your business is as informed and well-equipped as possible. 

Be honest with your audience 

In a world of misinformation and rapidly spreading rumors, being open about cancelling an event or closing doors temporarily will ultimately help your business thrive. People may be disappointed, but no company wants to be known as ground zero for a viral pandemic in the wake of public outcry. 

Use social media to confront the issue, emphasize safety and concern, and if possible, offer refunds or vouchers for any prepaid services. Ultimately, people will understand. If you partner with other companies, work with them to see how you can mitigate potential fallout, like lost income, if they depend on your event.

Start to think ahead 

How can you use this time re-engage your audience online, develop a new service line, or strategize for the future? If you’re cancelling an event, bunker down and talk to people, or see if you can go virtual. See what else you can offer to tide things over until restrictions lift, or see what time of year people would be willing to come back. You won’t get all the answers in one day, but being visible on social media will pay dividends in the future.

If you’re pouring out hard-earned resources into refunds, you may be thinking about cutting back on your marketing plan. However, this is a chance to start something new, as most people will be shifting from life out in the world to life confined in their homes. If China’s activity is any indicator, more time on radio, TV, and digital means more touchpoints, allowing you to pivot your messages and reach a more engaged audience. Testing on new platforms and channels would be wise, but do not take advantage of the situation in messaging. A tasteless ad or post could be a nightmare for your brand and your conscience. 

Don’t forget to measure 

Measurement will become critical as more people move to digital interactions, so make sure yours is up to snuff. If you haven’t set up pixel tracking or Google Analytics on your website, now’s the perfect time to do some research, build up your infrastructure, and get ready for things to shift. 

If you’re in retail, now is your chance to really buckle down and test your online product messaging. If you’re in the cleaning service industry, take a peek at movement on Clorox stock and think about how you can scale your operations without experiencing a bottleneck. Whatever way you pivot, make sure you can measure success along the way.

As with everything, this too shall pass. Hardships will lift, things will get better, and people will start interacting with each other and touching doorknobs again. Take this situation seriously and be responsible with your public interactions. If you need help with strategizing, positioning, shifting goals, or measurement, always feel free to reach out.