We are in the midst of a Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis affecting absolutely everyone in every industry and is unique in its longevity. So if your strategy was to kickstart your campaigns after everything blows over, you must have been in for a rude shock in March as the U.S and much of Europe reported a sharp spike in coronavirus cases.
Covid-19 could last a year since Dr. Fauci said that this is the shortest possible time period to develop a vaccine. Therefore, unless your company is extremely cash-rich, marketers can't afford to delay their campaigns any longer.
What has changed?
As the Queen said a moving speech in Apr 2020, Covid-19 "has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all." Consumer buying patterns, consumer habits, mindsets, supply chains are going to be very different during Covid-19. And there may be no ‘return to normal’ after this crisis.
Prior to Covid-19, companies followed a similar formula to win sales - Advertise, do PR to build your brand and while advertising some more - are likely to find it doesn't work. Social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook already announced a sharp drop in their first quarter advertising revenues. Which means ads are not converting as the consumers grapple with Covid-19 uncertainty and increased their news consumption by 42% month-on-month to keep in touch with latest developments (see category breakdown below).
Marketing in the time of Covid-19
As you can see from the data above, all sorts of news content except travel content, has seen a greater demand, even greater than social media. This happens to be the opposite of what companies used to do (advertize & advertize). As livelihoods are threatened and the death toll rises across the U.S and Europe, folks are less likely to click on cutesy ads. So marketers need to pivot to get themselves in the news while changing the tone of their social media content - less sales-y, more value - like the news that consumers are favoring during Covid-19.
Getting into the news (earned media) - a blend of content calendars, press releases and media pitching - is hard but provides better SEO and organic social media shares. Which is why marketers generally preferred ads in the first place. As Covid-19 is dominating the news cycle, marketers are frozen out if they can't interest journalists.
The key is to design a social media strategy that amplifies your earned media while Covid-19 ready: becoming more news-driven to find out what's trending on media and featuring the 3Ps (people/products/passion) to fit this unique period.
- People: News is often about personalities. Great brands such as Marriott benefited from a leader such as Arne Sorenson to give voice to its mission, products and crisis response. With empathy, the trust and goodwill generated by the right leader or spokesperson will be transferred to your brand.
- Product: Unless you are selling ventilators, you have got to stay relevant in a period where cash is tight for B2B and B2C customers. This may mean converting part of your production line to make badly-needed masks the way MyPillow had done. If you can't make a contribution to public health, check chart below to get a quick idea of changing consumer preferences.
- Passion: Covid-19 is going to be a long slog with customers receiving your messages through different social media and media channels over time, so consistency is key. That is only possible with a mission that your team believes in. Otherwise, your customers will quickly figure out that the walk does not match the talk and hurt brand trust.
Media intelligence is going to become much more important as brands seek to associate themselves with emerging hot topics. For example, one of the largest conversations has been the importance of working out as a way to maintain mental health. This is always a large conversation within fitness, as exercising has an important link to maintaining one's own mental health.
People are changing the way they buy, shop, consume. Marketing cannot afford inaction. Get in touch to discuss how your brand can only survive Covid-19, but become a leader.