Everyone is talking about the virus. It’s all we see on the media, on our feeds and on stories. It’s all we hear people talking about in the office, at home and on the streets.
With the current COVID-19 outbreak, the world economy’s lapsed into survival mode. Not acting accordingly could be a problem.
When a crisis hits, consumers and companies become more cautious with their money.
This is a pattern that we see regularly – just think about the terrorist attacks that have been happening in Europe in recent years, and the considerable media coverage they’ve received.
As a consequence of this, travellers’ behaviour has changed, and the tourism industry suffered because of this. For example, the bombings that occurred in Belgium in 2016 resulted in a significant 62% decrease in flights booking to Brussels.
In the case of COVID-19, everyone is being more careful with the places they go to, so stores, restaurants, outdoor activities, and the tourism industry are amongst some of the businesses that are being affected most. As a result, businesses are looking at ways to cut costs, and the first to go is typically the marketing budgets.
Because, if consumers aren’t buying, companies don’t see the value in advertising, right? Nope, not right. This is one of the most common mistakes businesses make during a crisis. Stopping the communication efforts when consumers aren’t buying will result, more often than not, in their brand being forgotten. One of the main goals of any marketer is brand equity, and when businesses stop focusing on building it is when they become their own worst enemy.
At this stage, there are two options that businesses can opt for. The first one is to cut down on the communication efforts, and wait for the crisis to be over before implementing new marketing strategies. These businesses will be facing the possibility of being forgotten as just because they stop their communications. Not all brands in similar industries are stopping, and your competitors will still be speaking to your consumer base. Instant recall is fundamental for any brand, and ceasing all communication efforts goes against that value.
The second option is to work on a strategy that allows you to connect with your audiences and find solutions to keep the conversation going during difficult times, and as a result, pushing for brand love. The businesses that will put their efforts on the latter will be the ones who will find it easier to rise from the crisis as people will remember their messages throughout a difficult period of time. The efforts that will be put into keeping the conversation going during this difficult time will be rewarded once the crisis is over.
And it will be over.
Once COVID-19 becomes old news, and the financial crisis that goes with it has passed, businesses will be back at competing for brand awareness and instant recall – the brands that shine will be the ones who worked on building and growing relationships with their audience during the harder times. And, since fewer people are communicating brand messages at the moment, it’s cheaper to reach your audiences and easier to cut through the noise.
One thing we always tell our clients is that we live in a post-campaign-era. Brands should be focused on turning their business transactions into meaningful relationships. Companies that focus only on pushing sales are the kind of brands that people get tired of – the ones which are easily forgotten about.
Think about human relationships – we can all think of that one “friend” who only reaches out when they need something. Maybe they need you to lend them some money, or introduce them to someone, or endorse their new business on social. Once they get what they want from you, they disappear once again, and you’ll only hear back from them when the time comes for them to ask for another favour.
On the other hand, there are brands that work hard at having a consistent stream of communication that focuses on building strong relationships. Those are the ones who turn their clients into followers, and as a consequence, build brand love amongst their audience. What businesses should keep in mind is that, if you cut down on your communication efforts when your sales are dropping, how much more effort will you need to invest on once the crisis is over?
Reducing marketing efforts during a financial crisis might look like the desirable option, but businesses should always be looking past the dark periods and to the work that will come in once it’s over. It’s the businesses that focus on active communication when the economy is bad that tend to achieve greater growth as they have consistently communicated throughout a difficult period of time.
One of the main marketing efforts that COVID-19 has impacted is experiential marketing. Events are being cancelled, people are, rightly so, avoiding crowded spaces, and as a result, experiential marketing is being left behind.
However, this is the perfect opportunity for brands to turn their threats into opportunities. Businesses should look into ways to overcome this challenge and to understand the best way to shift their budgets and communication efforts in a way that makes sense with the current situation and maximise on the opportunities they can create for themselves.
If you are business that is being affected by the current financial crisis, don’t sit back and allow your brand to be forgotten:
Work on your communication strategy, find the best ways to connect with your audience and reinforce their love for your brand. Don’t be the friend that people only hear from when they need something.
So – what’s your communication strategy to overcome the current COVID-19 outbreak?
To help, we’ve put together our personal guide to help brands navigate this time of crisis. Check them out below!