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How to strategize for advertising success during and post COVID-19

Talking Points Digital Advertising

Don’t abandon your advertising efforts during and post COVID-19.

You’d expect a firm that specializes in paid media to make a statement like that. And maybe, because of that fact, you’re tempted to stop reading. After all, you had no plans to drastically slash your organization’s advertising budget before COVID-19 hit. The economic impact of the pandemic forced your hand. You’ve had to make tough choices, and you’re not alone.

Tough decisions for marketing and advertising

According to recent research outlined in eMarketer, many advertisers have taken some form of action since the coronavirus took hold. The most common actions include holding back a campaign that was set to launch later in the year, changing media or shifting budgets among media, and stopping a campaign midflight. The article also says, U.S. spending on search advertising is about $6 billion to $8 billion less than experts expected for this time in 2020.

Amidst the job cuts, furloughs, business closings and overall uncertainty, we understand why advertising efforts may scale back or stop altogether. The priority is and should be your organization’s people and current customers. And if advertising just isn’t a priority right now, we want to provide you with some food for thought and suggestions for how you can strategize campaign efforts now, so you’re ready once the time is right.

Coronavirus shouldn’t halt all campaign efforts

First, let’s take a look at some statistics that point to why advertising is a positive decision in the midst of tough times. The earlier eMarketer article revealed that nearly four in 10 respondents, ages 16-64, agreed that during this difficult time, businesses should NOT stop advertising altogether, and a similar share were neutral.  

McGraw-Hill Research conducted a study of two U.S. recessions in the 1980s and found that those B2B businesses that continued to advertise during the early 1980s hit a 256% growth by 1985 over competitors that eliminated or decreased spending.

Finally, an April 2020 GlobalWebIndex study found that 87% of Americans say they’re consuming more broadcast TV, online videos and online TV streaming content than they did pre-COVID-19. Which means your audience is spending more time on platforms where you can reach them.

Rethink media messaging

If you are convinced and agree your organization’s advertising efforts should continue as planned, know that your messaging must change. E-Marketer shares, even though consumers say companies shouldn’t halt advertising plans, 77% do say advertising should talk about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday life and 75% believe it should inform about the brand’s efforts to face the situation.

GlobalWebIndex recommends, “ … brands should rethink their strategies. Campaigns that were planned pre-pandemic may no longer be appropriate as consumers clamor for information about how the crisis is being handled and how they can stay safe.”

Even as the curve flattens and cities, towns and countries slowly open back up, the way we advertise will remain changed. Consumers’ sensitivities and expectations are different now. More than ever, businesses are truly thinking about audience needs and struggles. THAT will be the key moving forward. Above all else, keep your audiences’ feelings, pain points and realities top of mind, and incorporate that into your advertising language.

Shift to engagement metrics to evaluate ad performance

We also encourage you to be flexible and allow for fast adjustments to real-time metrics. Companies today have access to a wealth of data, which showcases the effectiveness of ads and communication tactics. The immediacy of information means you can see how efforts are resonating with audiences and pivot based on what’s working and what’s not. The digital environment was constantly evolving even before COVID-19, and that hasn’t changed.

This turbulent advertising market may also mean a shift in focus from driving hard sales and lead generation to overall engagement metrics. Brands that focus on top funnel engagement will be in a better position to maintain business through COVID-19 and beyond.

If advertising cuts are necessary, we support you

In summary, we know times are tough and finding ways to rein in the budget is crucial to survival. But if you know advertising will be a vital part of your marketing and sales efforts in the future, start thinking about it now. Take this time to develop a solid strategy. Research tactics that will help you achieve your business goals. And if you need a partner to walk alongside you and help you prepare for the future, we’re here for you.

Interested in learning more?