Brightside Marketing
Brightside Marketing

Marketing During a Time of Change

In times of crisis or change, the spotlight turns to marketing for 2 key reasons. One is that some businesses will look to cut their marketing spend or stop marketing altogether, and the other is that part of marketing is what your stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, and partners) see or experience of your business during this time; how your company responds to the crisis; what you say or do determines the lasting impression they will have of your brand.


So, what should you be doing during this time?


Don’t stop marketing

While your approach to marketing needs to change based on the circumstances, it may be more detrimental to your brand to ‘disappear’ altogether. Don’t cut your marketing budget entirely – re-arrange it to focus on priority channels that will help you maintain your visibility and stand out. It is well documented that during the Great Depression in the 1920s, Post was the category leader in the ready-to-eat cereal category. The brand decided to significantly cut back its advertising budget. Its rival Kellogg’s doubled its advertising spend, investing heavily in radio and introducing a new cereal called Rice Krispies, featuring “Snap,” “Crackle” and “Pop.” Not surprisingly, Kellogg’s profits grew by 30% and the company became the category leader, a position it has maintained for decades. Similarly, in the 1990-91 recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to drop its advertising and promotion budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.

Follow your brand values

Now more than ever your brand values need to be front and center – they will guide what you communicate and the tone of your communications. Remind yourself and others what your brand stands for and what this means in the current context. A fabulous example of this was the advertisement released by Nando’s before the lockdown and how they linked the closing of their stores to their core brand values.

Get personal

Now is the time to emotionally connect with your stakeholders – tell stories where you can, do video broadcasts, and communicate often in a way that is truthful and realistic.

Valuable content is key at these times

Now is not the time for the hard sell, focus rather on providing value-adding content that is aligned to your core business (e.g. if you’re a restaurant provide quick recipes using pantry items; provide a guide to what items can be frozen and for how long, etc.). Be careful to not jump on the ‘self-care’ bandwagon unless it’s your core business.

Focus on digital

Social media takes center stage – revisit your strategy and decide what campaigns should be put on hold or brought forward. It’s ok to post as ‘normal’ – just pre-empt your ‘everyday’ posts with a message that lets your audience know you are sensitive to the current situation but to maintain some sense of ‘normalcy’ and aligned to your values you would like to continue educating, inspiring, motivating, entertaining (whatever it is you want to do). People don’t want to be continuously surrounded by doom & gloom, they want positivity and to feel a sense of hope (in a realistic way).

Listen to your market

Now, more than ever – use social listening to determine customer sentiment – what are they talking about, feeling, and needing at this time? Encourage your sales and account managers to call your customers, not to sell anything just to check in and see how they are doing at this time. Understand if there is any way you can support them and any innovations you should be considering to better serve them.

Use the time effectively

If your website needs revamping; if you need to update your company profile; or if you need to re-look at your positioning and messaging – now is the best time! You may also be able to negotiate effective rates from marketing suppliers who are not at full capacity during this time.

The most important thing you can do is be consistent and authentic in all your communication. Be savvy and think about how your behavior at this time has the opportunity to drive long-term loyalty and commitment to your brand.

Knowing what we know…

Instead of cutting down your marketing efforts during times of change, believe it or not, it is actually a great time to take advantage of the situation! Taking your marketing into consideration during the change and incorporating it as a key aspect and focal point will allow you to remain consistent and top of mind – marketing matters and should never get left behind, ESPECIALLY during a time of change.