By Tim Whitley
We are living in uncertain times. Many of us were adversely impacted both in our business and personal lives during the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. We all remember where it started and how it negatively impacted our economy. But this is different. It even feels different. This time the enemy is invisible, unpredictable, and utterly unprecedented in modern times. Currently, the biggest threat is that general sense of uncertainty.
When it comes to uncertainty, everyone will react differently. As we now isolate ourselves from one other, we will make decisions on our own, mostly for the short term without a longer-term plan in place. So, then, what is the long-term plan? I hope to give you some tools to help you provide an answer for yourself and your business.
It is no exaggeration that back in 2007-2008 many companies panicked and slashed their marketing communications altogether. By quarantining their brands, their customer bases dispersed, moving over to the brands that remained visible in the gloom.
Know Your Search Trends
We have access to so much more data than we had in 2008. We can now determine what people in the market are looking for. We literally have a real-time gauge of what people are searching for in any category of business – YOUR category of business. With data, we can detour from a previous goal and create another goal that has emerged due to this pandemic. For example, previously, you might have been targeting a segment of people who were searching for vehicles to buy on a car lot, but now they are searching for vehicle deliveries.
Use your current search engine marketing campaigns to see where the trends are heading. If you cannot do that, I suggest utilizing Google Trends. When using this tool, be sure to adjust your timeframe and geography. At MHP/Team SI, we have noticed a dramatic shift in many of our clients’ keywords, and we are adjusting to their needs as fast as possible. As long as you align your operations to the new reality, you can still break through. If you are an entrepreneur, you know it is a daily fight to adjust your operations to any new conditions. This one is just the largest shift we have ever witnessed, and it took place in a remarkably compressed window of time.
Know Your Website Traffic
One of the most important interactions for any business is your website, and you must look at your Google Analytics to see how your consumers are shifting. As you might expect, most of our clients are actually UP in website traffic and DOWN in store visits. What does this mean? Opportunity.
We must find the new path the consumer is on. Where are they landing? Why are they landing there? What are they doing there? These are simple questions for you to find in your Google Analytics, but someone must be looking for them. Once you have the answers to those questions, pivot your operations and marketing to align with that goal. Sounds easier said than done, but we are literally talking about the survival of your business.
Know Where Your Audience Is
Due to people working from home (alongside their kids), media usage is at an all-time high.
According to ComScore, the top 25 local markets saw an average 11 percent increase in the number of daily households that were viewing local news when comparing the week of Feb. 10 to the week of March 9. The study also found that the week of March 9-15 was the highest week of news site visits this year, representing a 23.4 percent growth from the previous week.
Not only is consumption of news media rising in this ongoing pandemic, so is Connected TV. Streaming content has reached an all-time high as everyone is at home, or likely headed home. Media consumption in the U.S. is already at historic highs. As reported in the most recent Nielsen Total Audience report, Americans are already spending just shy of 12 hours each day with media platforms. What’s more, three-quarters of U.S. consumers are broadening their media options with streaming subscriptions and TV-connected devices.
When it comes to targeting audiences on Connected TV, Team SI has 221,437 different data layers to ensure your desired customer is reached with Doppio®.
Optimize Your Marketing Strategies to the Newly Discovered Goal
With data in hand, you can move your operations into a pattern that will fit your consumers’ needs and intentions. Now is the time to focus — to move heaven and earth to create business objectives that fit this new, uncertain time. Do not allow the small stuff to get you winded. You need your energy to maximize the new reality.
Optimize Your Website
Using the tools above, you will have the data to point you to what your consumers are searching for. Next, be sure that the most trafficked portions of your website are your top priority. Start creating fresh content. Share that content inside your media channels. Make sure all of your digital media marketing is pointing to your newly discovered goal.
Owned Media Channels
The phrase “owned media channels” is thrown around a lot. Many business owners do not understand what it means. Owned media are those digital marketing channels that a given company exercises complete control over, such as its branded website and social media accounts.
Improving upon and leveraging your owned media increases the effectiveness of paid media (advertising) and earned media (publicity) for online businesses. You will want to incorporate this thinking into your overall strategy alongside your website efforts.
Is your new business goal something that will help your community through COVID-19? Earned media (unpaid media) refers to any publicity gained over the course of your efforts that isn’t paid media advertising or owned media posts and features.
If you have something that can truly help or be of general interest to the public dealing with our new reality, you need to inform news media outlets. During this time, our firm is handling a lot of public relations efforts for companies. Good news is welcomed in this world. Don’t hide the good that you’re doing or assume that everyone knows.
Most companies do not have the resources to adjust all of their creative messaging overnight,or even over weeks. It is hard to adjust “creative” when it is just you behind the scenes. But it is important! It is what people will see if they can’t come inside your door. It’s what they listen to if they can’t talk to you face to face. If you do not have the right creative aligned to the new goal, everything else will fail.
P&G has reportedly launched its Microban 24 products into the disinfectant category, pumped up digital ad support of Bounty paper towels, and shifted a great deal of its spend toward ads on Amazon.com for its Clorox brand of easy-to-use dispenser wipes. That’s exactly the right plan when you have products that will kill germs in a time when people are desperately looking for something – anything – that will keep them healthy. Not everyone has that product to promote. If your business depends upon foot traffic, consider directly addressing those things you can feasibly deliver curbside – or to the home – in your creative messaging. Our content producers, writers and artists are great storytellers and are ready to help.
Here are some examples of companies that have adjusted their goals to meet the needs of the community. Their creative directly calls out their new goal and how they are helping out their neighbors.
Built for Right Now – Ford
Thanks to those who are keeping the world running – John Deere
“We’re Here To Help” | Buick & GMC
Family Takeout Special – Subway
Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Fareway Stores
Flatten the Curve – BMW USA
Burger King TV Commercial, ‘Contactless’