Should you be marketing during a crisis? Yes, and here’s why

Have you been enjoying the sound of birdsong during lockdown? It’s amazing how the little noises become audible when the hubbub of the world dies down. But what has that got to do with marketing?

What we will cover

Making your voice heard

It’s not only the natural world that has gone eerily quiet. The usual hustle and bustle of the marketplace – both online and off – has calmed down as anxious businesses reign in spend to keep the lights running and the vans on the road.

For those businesses who are used to being shouted over by the big brands, especially if they have minimal overheads of their own, the opportunity is there to start chirping up and raising their brand awareness. But should be marketing during a crisis? Somehow it feels uncomfortable…

A lesson from the stock market

In every recession the savvy invest in the stock market, financial advisors have been known to keep back funds in good times to have a buffer to buy low in the bad. The same has been true of advertising through troubled times, for the last hundred years businesses that have put-in in troubled times have come out the other side with a stronger market share.

Although it is easy to look at the fragility of our own situation in troubled times, the reality is your larger competitors are likely less nimble than you, having to cut back to keep their bigger expenses paid, and in this silence your voice can become heard.

If you can afford it, now is also a good time to invest in marketing and advertising then. This may seem counterintuitive but if you investigate some of the marketing channels you usually avoid due to cost (e.g. newspapers, billboards, radio stations, etc.) you might find that rates are at an all time low because of a reduction in demand.

If an advertising rate is particularly attractive right now, consider signing a long-term contract. Not only are you likely to get an even better rate but, if you time it lucky, you might be the most visible brand in your niche when the economy reopens.

It’s a big if though, we get that, the whole point of times of recession is that we all tighten the purse strings, so it’s a gamble, however, a less expensive gamble than investing during profitable times.

So if you can’t commit to a financial gamble, what can you invest? Most likely you are time rich, many businesses are offering free guidance to position themselves in front of new customers, the rule of reciprocity says that, on a human level we will value that and respond in kind.

Reaching a captive market

Although maintaining or increasing your marketing activity could be a wise strategy, it is also important to think about how you are going to communicate with your audience.

The question of should we marketing during a crisis feels a lot more comfortable if we are giving away or offering value, but of course that is building trust for a reciprocal favour further down the line.

Many people have a lot more time on their hands during lockdown so you are likely to find that people are more tolerant and appreciative of longer, more in-depth articles. In fact, this is an ideal time to increase knowledge of your products and services and to offer free trials. 

Improving your own knowledge of Digital marketing with things like content marketing, email marketing, social media, branding and technologies such as WordPress will help you ensure your message is clear and on point. Vu Online are still open for business (virtually) if you need to brush up on these skills.

Tread with care

And while it is not for us to lecture anyone on anything (not our style), a word to the wise, be cautious when tying your products or services in with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unless you really do contribute something to the cause (e.g. you sell masks or home teaching materials), trying to jump on the bandwagon can come across as crass and opportunistic. If you are in any doubt, look at the social media for Corona beer (one of the most pivotal brand names right now) are they supporting / making light of / reacting to unrealistic comments? No. Nothing. Radio silence. If in doubt, our advice is to follow their lead.

If you can invest financially there is greater opportunity than normal, if you can’t commit financially, use your time to plan or invest in your audience. 

If nothing else, help ease the disruption we’re all experiencing and bring some much-needed humanity into the world. Anything you can do to support your customers is sure to be appreciated.

At Vu we decided to offer our time to anyone who needed help getting online and ordering shopping to keep their contact with the outside world to a minimum, a simple commitment of time lead to all sorts of requests like pharmacy and shopping trips that help us all feel a little more connected in difficult times.

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