The Covid-19 pandemic has the world in its dastardly grip. From people, to communities and businesses, everything is currently collapsing like a pack of cards. While there are a select few businesses that face an unusually favourable combination of circumstances during this unforeseen pandemic, most businesses are now just trying to survive.
The first sector that is likely to take a hit in these testing times is, without a doubt, advertisement and marketing budgets. This leaves companies with only two choices – either cut costs or try to generate cash.
Inevitably, most companies will end up choosing the first option. They will reduce all their ad spends, curb marketing campaigns, or even worse, cut jobs in the marketing department. And there’s the also more financially risky option, and that is to spend some cash in order to generate more cash. This means the brand will have to put itself out there at this time to try and turn a profit.
What is the ROI you ask? Well, obviously nobody wants to spend more money than they expect to get back. However, there are specific rules that apply to marketing in a scenario like this.
There isn’t much you can do to change the fact that fewer people are now buying; obviously when the public’s focus shifts to survival, consumption is the first thing to be reined in. So, there will be less to be gained from an ad or marketing spend. However, if you carefully control brand perception, it can make a big difference to your brand value, and ultimately your bottomline.
It’s not like people aren’t expecting you to advertise. However, the modern consumer also knows the difference between right and wrong, and will hate to see a brand profiteering in any way from their suffering. Which is why if your brand is perceived to be profiting directly from the global economic downturn, the consumer will see through the game. If your marketing efforts involve grabbing attention surrounding an issue that people are hyper-aware of, and then capitalising on their concern, consumer outrage will most likely ruin your brand reputation.
And they also don’t want you to just pay mere lip service to a crisis of this proportion. This is possibly the worst strategy. And yet it is practiced by most brands since it requires very little effort from their end.
So, now coming to the point whether brands should be marketing themselves amid the Coronavirus crisis, there are a certain set of conditions under which it will be acceptable to the consumer –
The product/service you are offering is a necessity
If you’re planning to go full throttle with your advertising/marketing efforts, particularly if it is related to the pandemic, consumers will want to see a legitimate reason behind attempting this. So, a food delivery brand can safely and legitimately raise their marketing profile at this time as obviously the demand for food is clearly there. But if your brand sells luxury items such as watches, for instance, it will leave people asking, “why now?”
Your brand message is valuable for consumers at this time
Consumers tend to shower more praise on brands who have a clearly defined corporate social responsibility message. In the same way, consumers are also alert to brands doing the exact opposite. If you think that you have a genuine responsibility of making people aware of your products, action or stance during the pandemic, your message should clearly outline this and always keep in mind the consumer’s reduced circumstances.
But remember, consumers are not fools. They are very adept at spotting a spotting a brand’s perceived selflessness – it could be your attempt at discounts, free trials and giveaways, for example.
Your brand message does not hurt anyone’s sentiments
Emotions are running at an all-time high right now. It means that now is the time to be extra sensitive with what your brand is trying to portray. All brands must consider that while consumers are handicapped by their current situation, they are also subconsciously making a stronger appeal for fair play. So, as a brand, you will have to take call – will your marketing efforts be perceived as greedy and opportunistic, or will these efforts pay off in the long run when consumers think of you as a decent brand trying to do right?
So, play fair and always keep the ROI in mind. That way, you can still easily market yourself during a crisis like this.