Stop marketing during the pandemic. Or should you?

Should you stop marketing during the pandemic? Or change what you’re doing. In Print Ads More Vulnerable To Cuts Than Digital,  an opinion piece by Rob Williams on Media Post this week, Williams shares some interesting findings from a recent (April) study by the World Federation of Marketers. These include, “Advertisers plan to cut their print budgets by an average of 37% during the first half of the year, given the health crisis.” By comparison, a whopping 56% in reduced spending on events (and experiential marketing) and 49% in reduced spending on outdoor advertising was reported. Digital spending is reported to be the least impacted for the first half of 2020:

  • 14% reduction of online display advertising
  • 7% reduction of online video

It makes sense that digital would be the least affected: Everyone is online now more than ever. Arguably, digital ad budgets should be boosted, not reduced, but only if you’re mindful of your message.

Before you cut back on any form of advertising or change your marketing mix, evaluate each tactic in light of your specific business’ practice, brand position, target audiences, and messaging. Consider these questions as a guide:

  • What messages about what your brand stands for are important to reinforce to your consumers and prospects? A recent Forbes article notes, “Brands can project to consumers the image of corporate stability during challenging times.”
  • What modifications in operations have you made to keep your consumers safe?
  • What’s changed in your target audiences’ use of your product or service?
  • What may have changed in how to best reach your audiences?
  • How can you maximize your digital marketing strategy?
  • Can you afford to lose ground by cutting back on marketing? From Forbes, “When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits.”

In Williams’s post, he points out, “A key test will be the gradual easing of lockdowns that let more businesses reopen, even if they must revamp their operations for social distancing and improved hygiene.”

“Any progress in these efforts will set the stage for the critical back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. Obviously, keeping schools closed will suppress demand for school supplies and kids’ clothing. It will be the first sign of what to expect for the remainder of the year.”

How the remainder of 2020 unfolds for individual businesses and consumer behaviors is unknown, but how you adapt your marketing messaging and plan is in your control. In the famous words of Henry Ford: “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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