How are We to Market Amid the Worst of COVID-19’s Reign?

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As marketers we often fret about making costly mistakes that reflect poorly on our organization or clients. Promoting or running a campaign that fails to make a connection with its target audience, or designing a marketing strategy that fails to launch, can be expensive and embarrassing. With all the marketing data on demographics, generational psychology and good ole “wild ass guesses” that are available to marketers of all things sellable, one absolute truth remains: nothing, not to include taxes and death, we do is guaranteed. It is true that technology has enhanced our capabilities to predict the results of our efforts, but absolutes are always vulnerable to change and in short supply. Most business leaders will tell you that their goal is to make no mistake that is unrecoverable, knowing that most business failures result from a source unto which we have no control. Enter COVID-19.

As the pandemic of 2020 spreads across the globe, sickening vast numbers of people and killing the most vulnerable and aged among us, nearly all commerce is finding its future threatened by the disease and the public health responses implemented to stem the spread of devastation. As governments declare state of emergencies, industries across the spectrum are being shuttered and barred. Unlike an attack from a seen competitor or a variance in economic fortunes, the COVID-19 scourge is showing no mercy, creating no winners and is universal in its impact on worldwide commerce. For those entities that appear to be are thriving in the short term, their long-term fortunes will reflect the challenges of economic recovery. So how are we to market amid the worst of COVID-19’s reign?

Causal marketing has long-been a fundamental element of marketing strategy. The onset of the COVID-19 virus is now the premier tactic in brands’ efforts to connect with consumers. According to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey, ”the number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87 percent”. The College Explorer study from Alloy Media reveals that “nearly 95 percent of students say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand’s partnership with a cause.” Now more than ever, if a brand doesn’t stand for a cause, consumers will look to a competitor who does.

Large corporations are abandoning profit projections and responding with empathetic themes, such as “We are all in this together” and “We will get through this”, while switching their production efforts to produce much needed personal protective equipment and medical hardware necessary to sustain the lives of those most adversely affected by the virus. Others are financially supporting health organizations and related non-profits that are involved in the fight.

Footwear brand Crocs is donating a pair of shoes from its classic clogs and at-work collections to health care workers across the U.S. through its “A Free Pair for Healthcare” program. The American Hotel and Lodging Association members; Marriott, Hilton and Red Roof Inn, are making available more than 6,500 hotel properties across the U.S. to house health care workers and other first responders. “The hotel industry is uniquely positioned to support and help strengthen our communities and first responders who are on the frontlines of dealing with this ongoing public health crisis,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, “Hotels have always been an active member of our local communities, and this time is no different.”

Realizing that its small to mid-sized business customers will be the most affected by forced closures and lost business, software maker QuickBooks is diverting its advertising spend to a new Small Business Relief Fund. The message: “QuickBooks salutes the grit and determination of those who work for themselves—they’re the backbone of our economy and in these challenging times, they’re adapting to support their communities”.

Building meaningful relationships, whether business or personal, requires that a benefit be offered to a contact without any immediate expectation of return. At a time when many small businesses are facing extinction, some are reaching out in support of those who face even greater challenges within their respective communities. Successful causal marketing begins with identifying a suitable community non-profit organization that is relevant to your company’s culture or products and helps to promote your brand’s visibility and awareness.

A successful fundraising campaign must have a specific goal, engage associates’ participation, be clear in its purpose and motivate customers to action. At the end of the campaign, sharing the impact with participants is important to validating the effort. A Cone Communications CSR Study found that 92 percent of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company if it supports a social or environmental issue, but patience is required. Building a reputation and a valuable image takes time and continuity of actions. At a time when many small businesses are challenged just to survive for another day, allocating marketing spend can be daunting but essential for achieving ultimate victory.

At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) we are open in a virtual world and ready to help you create an impactful causal campaign in this difficult environment. To learn more, call 678-686-1125 today.