There is no doubting that these are unprecedented times in the UK and across the globe. The country has been in lockdown for over a month already with no sign of restrictions lifting. Many staff are on furlough leave and those that can continue working are doing so from home. The public is only allowed to leave home for essential reasons. That makes for very challenging times for marketers and promotional agencies.
Aside from the physical challenges of getting messages to people, when shops, pubs and restaurants are closed and all events and public gatherings cancelled, there are mindset challenges to overcome. Many people are consumed with thoughts relating to Coronavirus and just aren’t receptive to marketing messaging as they would be in normal circumstances. And the way promotional agencies work – product sampling or handing out distribution flyers – is suddenly at odds with the rules on social distancing. We can’t even shake hands any more!
Make messages appropriate
In the new world of social distancing, advertisers should be careful to reflect the current restrictions on physical connections and staying home. Understanding the consumer mood is key to making the most of marketing messages at this time, as is learning how Coronavirus is impacting a brand’s customers’ routines. Brands that are able to demonstrate that they understand the current climate and how their product fits into it will find that the majority of their customers are receptive. Of course, less ‘vital’ products will find it harder.
Be mindful of the tone of voice and the overall feel of the message to be sure that the message hits the right note without causing offence or upset.
While your customers are concerned with rewriting their marketing plans, now is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your own customers. See how the pandemic is affecting them, how their plans are impacted, what are they looking to achieve in the current climate. How are marketing budgets affected? How as their promotional agency can you provide support?
Once restrictions start to relax, promotional activity will be one of the most flexible advertising channels, so work with your clients now to prepare. This is an unrivalled opportunity for agencies to demonstrate their value to clients so be there; offer your perspective, advice and expertise and make a big difference.
Get your house in order
This won’t last forever. Do some general ‘housekeeping’ (literally and figuratively) and get everything in order, ready to get back and hit the ground running once lockdown ends. Keep in touch with existing customers and do your own planning on recruiting new customers and promotional staff. In an uncertain job market, there will be strong candidates unexpectedly looking for work, so review your recruitment processes and see if there is any recruitment and training you can do virtually in preparation.