Advertising during the lingering COVID-19 crisis can continue to be a sensitive issue. On one hand, a company still needs to promote itself and its brand regardless of the climate. In fact, it could be said that throughout this unpredictable coronavirus pandemic, there are more eyes available to see your advertising.

On the other hand, with the sensitive nature of the COVID-19 crisis, a company can also risk ruining its reputation if they advertise either too much or in an incorrect way.

In this article, we’ll delve into some issues facing advertisers during the ongoing and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic crisis and reveal some helpful tips on maintaining brand awareness without sacrificing brand reputation.

The Public Is Deeply Worried

Your target audience has changed in the past 18 months or so. Their state of mind has drastically changed. Not only are they worried about the health effects of the virus on themselves and their loved ones, but they’re also worried about the long-term effects on the economy and how it will change their own financial situation.

On top of that, they may have been spending more time at home as a result of COVID-19 conditions which may mean that you have to be sensitive with your messaging to keep your brand reputation high.

This might involve a complete change to your brand strategy that shows compassion and concern. For example, a message from the highest-ranking officer (CEO, Chairman, Owner, etc.) with some inspiration will go a long way to help solidify your brand.

Anticipate Consumer Needs

If you’re in a business that sells a product or service that has some value during the COVID-19 crisis (e.g. food delivery, counseling, health products like supplements), make sure you market it correctly. Now’s the time to show that you care. Offer price breaks, deferred payments, improved delivery, and virtual services if possible. Remember that your audience may be spending more time at home so making their life easier, even if it means your company doesn’t profit as much as it used to, will go a long way.

People Are Concerned about Finances

Like I said above, the economy is top of mind these days. People are returning from furloughs and spending is more cautious. If you want to keep your brand health high during the COVID-19 crisis, you need to be flexible with your pricing to help your customers through this.

In the short term, you could lose out on revenue. But in the long term, if you position your company as a compassionate business that proves that they truly care about their customers, it will benefit you in the long run.

If you have any collateral you can offer for free, even if it’s just content in the form of helpful advice or a short inspirational video to put a smile on someone’s face, it will help strengthen your brand’s image during this crisis. If it goes viral, it will pay off even more for your company’s reputation.

Shoppers Are Focused on the Basics

If you have a service or product that can be considered frivolous or something that isn’t a necessity, it could be more difficult to maintain revenue during these times as your audience is more focused on basics.

But if there’s a way for you to pivot to make your product or service offering more of a necessity, you can not only recoup some sales but also strengthen your brand.

For example, some fine dining restaurants have started selling essential groceries (flour, pasta, sauces). While we tentatively return to the dining-in experience, restaurants have found a way to offer necessities to their customers during times when maybe the grocery stores are out of stock. See what you can offer your clients that they need during these times. It might mean selling raw materials or even expertise.

Leverage Technology

Technology is helping a lot of brands continue their businesses. Grocery stores, even small ones, have embraced online ordering platforms. Service providers who normally would have face-to-face meetings are now using virtual meeting platforms to help keep their businesses running. For example, I’ve seen a physiotherapist do online consultations which include video exercises and online payment. If you can keep your business running through the latest technology, leverage that to keep your customers happy.

Focus on Customer Experience More Than Ever

The customer experience is more important than ever. Your customers are concerned, stressed, and scared. If they are going to buy from you, you want them to have the easiest experience possible. Make it memorable and have the customer want to come back not just for the product or service, but for the peace of mind of being kept safe while getting the product they paid for.

Branding Can Set the Tone for Future Sales

What you do right now can help you with future sales. A restaurant that sells much-needed groceries right now will probably see loyalty from their customers once they re-open for regular business. A health supplement company that offers discounts to “ease the burden” now, might see increased sales later. Build your brand reputation now and it will pay off in the future.

Transform into a Purpose-Led Brand

If you can’t show value during these times, you’ll need to develop a plan to show purpose, whether it’s to educate or entertain, even showing your company is helping in other ways through donations of equipment or services.

Think outside the box. Maybe your CEO has a great banana bread recipe he can share in a video. Maybe there’s someone at your company who knows yoga and can do a virtual class to help people working from home.

The key to maintaining your brand during these times should focus on engagement, compassion, and understanding. Showing this during tougher times will pay off down the road as things get back to normal. In the meantime, it will keep your company in the minds of your customers and your prospects.

At North American Media, we specialize in helping our clients create robust, effective, mail pieces and direct mail campaigns. Our variety of services can be customized to suit your business goals, and we have packages that can work with a range of budgets. No matter the size of your organization, we can help you target your audience, retain customers, and build your reputation among your audience as a company they can trust. Our full line of services includes print media advertising in newspapers & magazines, direct mail marketing, digital marketing, alternative media/inserts, radio & TV advertising, list brokerage, data solutions, list fulfillment, and list management. If you need assistance creating a robust direct mail program, consider working with North American Media.

For more information about growing your business, contact us at (475) 256-0303.

David Klein