Keep investing in marketing During The Pandemic
In a normal recession, the smart move is to spend through it. Keep investing in marketing during the pandemic. Hold your nerve; see if your competitors fold; and hope your brand emerges stronger. That’s still true, but it’s not the full picture of our current predicament. We’re in a public health crisis with both supply-side and demand-side effects.
In a normal recession, stimulated demand can be easily satisfied. There are usually loads of latent capacity in labor and raw materials. That’s not the case now. Some brands in high demand are struggling to keep up, whether because their workers are sick, the labor market has been impacted, or physical availability has been restricted or shut down by the government.
It’s OK to scale down marketing to manage these things. But when the restrictions are lifted (or if you’re one of the lucky brands without restrictions), you should be fighting with your finance department to get the funds to hit the ground running.
Make human decisions about your brand strategy
Many marketers are frozen in the headlights right now. Perhaps it’s years of overanalyzing creative output. Or maybe they don’t have a good grasp on what their brand’s role really is. That’s OK. Good decisions come from humanity. Let human instinct guide you in this moment.
The data tells us people are looking for two things right now: help and comfort. If you’re able to help them to navigate the current situation, tell them about that. But they also want joyful distractions — things to make them smile in times of hardship. Of course, you need to get the tone right. But as long as you’re thinking like an empathetic human being, you can’t go wrong. Don’t be self-serving; don’t be cynical; don’t talk like an organization. Do the right thing, and keep doing it when the coronavirus situation ends.
Think like a caring human being with the resources to help millions. Then act accordingly, in the mutual interest of business and society.
The data also tells us that what people most want after this is to see those they are closest to. And what are they most afraid of? Poverty and unemployment. How might your brand help with those things?
Strategically plan now to prepare for a cautious, staggered recovery
Now is the time for planning. It might be sensible to turn off your marketing for a little while, but it’s not very sensible to turn off your strategic planning. Make sure your agencies are part of this process too.
Things are changing all the time, but there seems to be a growing consensus that we won’t just flick a switch and return to the way things were. Some of the restrictions will be lifted, but not all. People will be wary of packed commuter trains and big crowds. We might return to lockdown as the virus flares up and we don’t have a vaccine. You need flexible and scalable plans that can be turned on and off, with a tone of voice to fit more cautious consumers.
It’s OK to feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing. If you didn’t feel that way, you’d be truly terrible at your job. Feeling uncertain, in uncertain times, means you have the emotional intelligence to thrive in the future. But don’t let the uncertainty paralyze you. Think like a caring human being with the resources to help millions. Then act accordingly, in the mutual interest of business and society.