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Surviving the Pandemic: The Need for Long Term Branding

Trends and Insight 169 Add to collection

Adstream’s global head of marketing Trevor Williams outlines how brands can stay relevant during a recession, and emerge from it fighting fit

Surviving the Pandemic: The Need for Long Term Branding

When it comes to a recession, there are an awful lot of preconceptions out there. Some will tell you that when the going gets tough, the tough tighten their belts. On the other hand, there are those who will extol the virtues of spending to achieve growth during economic turbulence. 

For marketers, it’s quite the existential debate - particularly in the context of a global pandemic which seems set to persist well into the new year. The truth, invariably, can be found in balancing these aforementioned extremes. Whilst cutting back in the short-term may have a common-sense logic to it, it also risks opening up space in which your competitors can gain a foothold. At the same time, throwing money at the problem carries its own hazards as the definition of a ‘successful’ campaign can change during a recession.

All in all, there is no guaranteed ‘right’ way to market a brand during a recession. But doing so doesn’t need to be a complete stab in the dark, either. There are a few key insights, ideas and indicators that could prove pivotal over the coming difficult months. 

Standing Still or Lying in Wait? 

For those in charge of the purse strings, marketing may appear as an easy area in which to make savings during difficult times. Besides, you might think, what’s the harm of taking just a few months off from advertising when presumably most of your competitors will be doing something similar? 

Well, there’s a fairly big risk. Taking time off means that you are allowing your competitors time to get ahead of you and occupy a space you might be a leader in or taking a hit on a budget that you’d already allocated. If you are in the position of having a budget allocated, that’s money which has been designated as an investment for the business in order to drive growth. During challenging times, growth is absolutely possible and achievable.

I believe Adstream is an illustrative example of this point. During the spring, as lockdowns came into force across a large portion of the world, we streamlined our marketing, but we didn’t stop talking. As a result, when the world began to open back up around summertime, we saw an uptick in business as Adstream was the name on people’s minds in our category. Ultimately, that was because we kept communicating, presented relevant solutions for the changing times and stayed at the top of our customers’ thoughts. 

Recalibrating ROI

In every campaign that goes out there’s a level of expectation when it comes to how much business it’s going to drive. Even in the context of long-term brand building (which is extremely important during a recession), there are metrics by which we can rate a campaign’s success. A marketer may target their attention toward a Net Promoter Score (NPS), a helpful index that measures the willingness of customers to recommend one company over others. Alternatively, we might look to address our Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), the metric by which we measure the cost effectiveness of our communications, or we could simply seek to improve our levels of customer engagement. 

What we do have to accept, as marketers, is that during a recession, spending a million dollars on advertising might not generate a million dollars back off that single campaign. What we can, and indeed should expect, however, is a strong performance in these measurable metrics.

In uncertain times, our view of what defines a ‘successful’ campaign may need to be adapted but it’s no less valid. Getting our house in order and taking control of our campaigns and communications now is almost certainly going to be a key factor in future success. The awareness and visibility we’re creating today will translate into business growth post-recession. 

Socially Distant

Fortunately for marketers and digital marketers in particular, the tools we have at our disposal on social media today are far more sophisticated than they ever have been. When it comes to crafting the perfect campaign, they can be invaluable. 

We’re living in a world where, with the right audience and the right content, peoples’ hearts and minds can be captured on social channels in an immensely powerful way. In addition to maintaining their presence on traditional media, brands should be looking to cultivate a social audience which can then be leveraged to organically grow a campaign. In an ideal world, you should look to integrate your existing marketing and business models into your social platforms in order to maintain the consistent tone required for brand building. If you can achieve this, your campaigns can fly for a fraction of the cost your competitors may face. In uncertain times, that’s quite the superpower. 

Take a look at the companies which are thriving right now. You’re going to be looking at brands which stripped their investment into OOH right back and put it all into digital. It’s no accident that TikTok’s explosion in popularity coincided with Covid hitting. Even Snapchat, quickly becoming a veteran in the world of social, has seen its stock value almost double since the pandemic struck. 

According to a 2020 survey from Hootsuite, 35% all internet users discover new brands and products through search engines online, compared to 34% who do so through TV ads. Wise marketers will leverage both traditional and digital media in their campaigns. 

Putting Your Tech On The Line

In order to take advantage of the opportunities that will be out there over the course of the coming months, marketers should ensure they have the right tech infrastructure. As a marketer I’m going to need everything from content management to reporting. For example, am I easily able to repurpose and reuse old content for readily adaptable social campaigns? There’s a huge demand for content, so utilising something you’ve used a few months ago in a refreshed way is great for productivity and avoiding wastage. 

From a distribution standpoint, you’re going to want tech which provides both visibility and control over your content. Visibility means getting data insight reporting which are available in real-time, and which can be accessed easily by all relevant stakeholders. It means being able to get eyes on your campaigns as they play out in real-time across all markets, on all channels and which agencies they were placed with. 

Control means having the ability to adapt your campaigns when needed. To do that you need to know which of them aren’t running as planned, how much of your global toolkit is being used, what’s not needed and which markets are adopting global campaigns, and which aren’t. If your tech stack can provide you all of that, you’re in a good position to emerge stronger from this difficult period. 

There is at times a tendency to think of events such as Covid-19 as a passing storm. We may tell ourselves, if we can keep our heads down long enough to ride it out all will be well. Unfortunately, the world post-pandemic will be a radically different place which means the strategies that previously served us well may not cut it in the new world, and post-Covid strategies will have to change. Ultimately, those brands which thrive in the future will be those investing in it today. 

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Adstream New York, Fri, 18 Dec 2020 16:32:44 GMT