Now’s The Time To Say Something Without Selling Something

It feels like COVID-19 has stopped the world turning. One of the many unfair truths we are facing is that not all businesses are equally positioned to weather the storm.

The reality is some businesses survive on people being out and about in the community. They make their living from people socialising and spending their money on things they enjoy. They have also just been deemed (for the most part) “non-essential” by the Federal Government and forced to close.

So, what does this mean for these brands that have been physically cut off from their customers? For many it means budget cuts and marketing spend is often the first to go, effectively taking away the only other stream of communication they have with their customers.

Why? A lot of brands are pulling their media spend because they can’t go to market with their usual “come in and spend money” message. Instead, their strategy is to go silent only to pop up when the dust settles with a “remember us? Come in and spend money” message. While this is an option, the brands that communicate with their audience in the midst of adversity will emerge even stronger.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean simply continuing your current messaging – after all we’re still socially distancing and self-isolating. Rather, it means changing your message to empathise with your audience’s current situation. Offer them advice, reassurance, support or simply give them something to distract themselves from the current state of the world. In other words, brands need to face the very real reality that many people are losing their jobs or not feeling particularly secure in their job, so now is not the time to sell them something. Big brands like Telstra and Woolworths are already changing their messaging to ways they can help or providing public service announcements to their consumers.

The other reason not to go radio silent during these times is that people are listening more than ever. Media consumption across the board has increased. News sites are being inundated with users desperate for the next update. Free-to-air TV, radio and even newspapers are all reporting lifts in audience although the latter will not last long as more people self-isolate.

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As self-isolation increases and more people start working from home, multi-screening will likely hit a whole new level. Many households will have their desktop, mobile and TV activated all day while working and scanning the news. As a result, daytime TV is seeing a significant lift in audience, opening up cost-efficient opportunities. Media providers across the board are also currently offering discounted packages in response to the mass pulling of campaigns. In

short, there are currently opportunities to reach more people for less budget in an environment that is less cluttered with competitors.

While opportunities are out there, budget is the key factor in all of this. Some businesses can’t afford to capitalise on the rise in TV consumption or news site traffic. Now is the time to be realistic about spend levels and make every dollar work as hard as possible. Define your most valuable customers and focus on them. Social is a great way to do this on a minimal budget.

Brands that communicate with their audience in times like this will find themselves in a stronger position when life returns to normal. Those that empathise with their consumers, offer advice or support, help those in need where they can, will see well-deserved, long-term benefits. Stay silent, or continue the conversation? Your customers are waiting…

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