“These are the times that try men’s souls.” So penned Thomas Paine during the American Revolution. Nearly two hundred fifty years later, the sentiment of those long-ago words feels all too real, as we face massive challenges both personally and professionally due to the coronavirus.
The swiftness of the pandemic’s onset and the magnitude of the lockdown’s intensity threw the world of marketing into a tailspin. Overnight, long-thought-out strategies had to be reevaluated and adjusted as a radically different view of the world came into focus.
One thing about challenging times, they teach us lessons that blue-sky times seldom do. Lessons in resourcefulness, resilience, and brand awareness. As we continue to forge our way through this crisis, let’s review the marketing lessons that have risen to the top in the 2020 tailspin.
Resist the burning temptation to panic
In the blink of an eye, everything changed. If that’s not a recipe for panic, what is? But even when the situation may present as a panic-worthy scenario, decisions made in panic mode rarely result in favorable results. Rather than give in to the rush-rush of panic mode, breathe deep and make a conscious effort to “get a lay of the land” before making any crucial decisions.
Authenticity matters 24/7, 365 days a year. Consumers crave it to the tune of 90% reporting that a brand’s authenticity impacts the decision to support or not a particular brand. During crises and uncertainty, folks want to know the brands they trust will hold themselves accountable to a high standard of honesty and straightforwardness. No sugar coating. No unwarranted hype or drama. Authenticity always matters but during challenging times; it matters more.
Look for a new angle
The key to marketing through an unexpected happening, whether it be a large-scale crisis or something less catastrophic, is to strike a balance between an impulsive response and a hide-under-a-bushel approach. At the onset, rally the troops for a brainstorming session that examines every possibility.
“Find a new angle to stay relevant and keep selling,” says Jonathan Bacon with the Forbes Communication Council. “When your primary work is completely disrupted, like what happened with employees being forced to work from home, redefine your main audience.”
Zero in on this new angle/audience with a tweaked message that fits the new direction/directive.
Absolutely do not go dark
The ambiguity of a situation can make a low-profile option sound mighty appealing. Fear of making a wrong move can prompt a business into a do-nothing stance. A hunkered down, ride-out-the-crisis-in-a-bunker approach, while it may, at the moment, seem the path of least resistance, will leave your customer base wondering, “Where in the world are they?”
Remember the four P’s
The four Ps of marketing should be the driving force behind all marketing plans—including those tweaked to accommodate COVID-19 because marketing is still marketing regardless of the day’s challenges.
Keeping step with changing market tides always did and always will require regular review and adjustment to the four Ps. The resulting strategic plan will see your company past merely surviving to thriving by asking probing questions about the product, price, place, and promotion.
At ASJ Partners, we’re committed to riding the wave of these trying times alongside you and your staffing firm. We are here now, and we will be here when these days are behind us. Give our team a call to see what ASJ can do for you.