The Importance of Advertising During Challenging Times  

May 1, 2020

Perhaps the most difficult part of large-scale adversity is acknowledging the fact that things have become fundamentally different… but also acknowledging that, by and large, the show must go on. No matter what happens — whether it be a global pandemic, a terrorist attack or an economic collapse — there are sales targets to meet, expenses to meet and employees to pay. And while it’s important to see the bigger picture, businesses have to make sure that the day-to-day stays as normal as possible.

This sheds light on the importance of advertising during challenging times. Even though circumstances and needs may change, businesses must still find a way to promote their products and sell as much as possible. Along the same lines, companies still have the same mission statement as they had two months ago, but they have to go about their missions in a very different way in the modern climate. The promotion of these initiatives may be the difference between survival and a very different outcome.

Let’s take a look at how advertising matters when life gets complicated, as well as how you can make the most of the situation.

Accept Reality

You’ve no doubt seen the slew of emails, commercials, and social media posts that convey a somber tone. There are tributes to nurses, references to social distancing and staying home, and general messages regarding unity and resilience. Most importantly, it’s not the same old message that was conveyed even two months ago.

What was once normal no longer exists — at least not for now. And by running the same ad you’ve always run, it opens the door to consumers to believe that your business doesn’t care about the struggles of the world and that your company only cares about its revenues. Obviously, this isn’t true. Advertising is a great way for you to show exactly how current events are affecting your business, your employees, your community, and you as an individual. After all, marketing is all about showing that you understand the pain points of your audience.  And while this isn’t exactly a juicy marketing opportunity, your ads can help people to feel heard — and that’s the most helpful thing you can do right now.

The New Normal

Incorporating these important messages into your advertising will help show the world that your company’s heart is in the right place. But it isn’t the only thing you should do.

Even before the tone of advertising changed, businesses around the world were already working hard to tweak their operating strategies, hoping to entice consumers to come to a store or place an online order. Whether it be complimentary hand sanitizer, contactless pickup, or hours reserved specifically for elderly shoppers, most retail locations made significant changes to their standard operating procedures.

These updates comprise the new normal — a period of uncertainty in which consumer safety is more valuable than any sale. Therefore, any changes your business has made to accommodate changing times should be part of your promotional strategy. You’re no longer competing on price or selection. The only things that matter now are safety, convenience, and simply having products that people need. These factors should inform your marketing, and they should be central aspects of any promotional materials you issue going forward. It’s not about boosting your bottom line. It’s about making your shoppers feel safe.

A Greater Good

While the ultimate goal of your business remains to make money and gain market share, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that things right now are very different. Nobody should be getting rich off of the current situation, and you shouldn’t give the buying public any reason to think that’s what your intentions are.

With that in mind, now is a good time to incorporate any charitable giving in which your company participates into your advertising. Doing this shows people that your intentions are pure. People will be more likely to support your business if they know that a portion of their purchase will go towards a cause they care about. That’s true in normal times, but it rings especially true in the midst of this pandemic. It’s better to support a business that’s doing something to help others than it is to buy from a soulless corporation that only concerns itself with the bottom line.

Taking a Step Back

As we’ve mentioned, the world goes on. Things are difficult right now, but at the end of the day, people and businesses alike need to find a way to get by. As a result, businesses owe it to themselves and their customers to help the world get through tough times.

However, it doesn’t mean that people on your email list need to hear from you every day. And it doesn’t mean that you should be sending out meaningless marketing-speak platitudes like “We’re all in this together” on social media every ten minutes. Sometimes, sending the wrong message is significantly worse than saying nothing at all — especially in this modern world, where news fatigue is already setting in and people don’t need any additional reminders of how bad things are.

The best thing you can do is to take a step back from your marketing and, instead of saying the exact right thing, simply make sure you aren’t doing anything wrong. The power of the Internet and social media will ensure that any business that doesn’t do right by its employees or its customers will pay a heavy price when this is over. Whatever you do, don’t end up in that group. Instead, look at your marketing materials and ask yourself a few simple questions.

“If I were a customer, and I just lost my job, would I want to hear this message?”

“If I were a nurse on the front lines, and I were scrolling my social media feed to get a break from all of this, would I want to read this message?”

“If I caught this disease, would I feel support from this message, or would I feel like this company is exploiting my situation?”

In today’s world, it’s vitally important to not end up alienating the very people you want to support your business. But it’s also essential for your company to let the world know that you care, and to let people know what your business is doing to help. It’s a delicate balance, and not every marketer gets it right. But by keeping these principles in mind, you’ll be able to reach your audience in a sensitive yet effective way. Those individuals will be glad to repay that touch, both now and when all of this is over.

If you’d like to learn more about ways your company could be advertising right now, drop us a line, we’d love to chat.