Marketing Insights to Navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic – Weekly Recap of News You Can Use

Week of April 20, 2020


Greetings from the home office.

As the COVID-19 chaos continues to create challenges for businesses across the map, there are beginning to be a few bright spots. Consumer confidence and spending have seen a slight increase thanks to stimulus checks and the anticipation of stay-at-home orders being lifted.

But, a marketer’s work is never done. Brands continue to find new ways to pivot their products and services to remain relevant, reallocate budgets and adjust marketing strategies and media buys. Those that remain steadfast with timely solutions and maintain an empathetic connection with their customers are more likely to be remembered and reap the long-term benefit of increased customer loyalty. To help you stay current and aid in your strategy development, below is this week’s roundup of insightful content.

Content Roundup

How has media consumption changed in face of COVID-19? Here’s a look at what people are doing during this period of isolation at home. Media consumption has vastly increased, and not surprisingly, it differs by generation. People are relying on their devices to “inform and distract,” which is creating an increasing opportunity for marketers to engage this captive audience. Learn more.

Local news is spiking, the top five video streaming services are up and radio and digital audio have maintained their listener base. A Nielsen expert discusses these points plus the effect on revenue for brands cutting their media spend during the pandemic. Learn more.

Pessimism and stories of economic gloom have dominated in recent weeks, but there are now increasingly hopeful signs for marketers including positive consumer sentiment, an uptick in online spending and increased marketing activity designed to propel brands through the rebound. Learn more.

Source:  CivicScience

As businesses are gearing up for a post-pandemic world, they must consider five areas that will shape their strategy: position, plan, perspective, projects and preparedness. This article from Harvard Business Review presents many questions to help guide brands’ planning initiatives. Learn more.

We all know content is critical for SEO success, but how can your brand stand out in a sea of “coronacontent”? What type of content should you be creating now and how do you prepare for the post-coronavirus future? There’s no simple answer, but here’s what digital marketing experts had to say in an interview with Greg Sterling. Learn more.

Although it’s a tumultuous period, now is the perfect time for brands to learn from consumers’ new purchasing habits and online behaviors and refine their customer experience strategies accordingly. Learn more.

Brands are trying to determine what changes they need to make now and moving toward the future to stay relevant, stay in business and ultimately grow despite this crisis. Here are four ways companies are pivoting their offerings, budgets and strategies due to COVID-19. Learn more.

We hope you’ve found our compilation insightful. Stay safe and if you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog to get next week’s roundup delivered straight to your inbox.

Might, May, Must for Media Strategies

Contributed by Tom Palmier, Mindstream Media Group Account Director. Tom has been consulting with brands and business partners on their digital advertising since 2006.

To help our client brand and CMO partners strategically navigate their marketing through the novel coronavirus crisis, Mindstream Media Group created what we’ve dubbed “rebound teams.” These agency teams pair our media professionals with individuals from a variety of disciplines and client teams to gain a fresh perspective and devise unique strategies for their clients post-virus.

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in a couple of these teams and noticed common themes developing across client industry verticals and topic groups. Not all of these topics apply to every industry and some may weight each topic differently. We realize each individual client is different, but the topics below represent challenges seen across all industries.

Might – Advertisers might want to rethink who their target audience is during this unique time. Brands might consider letting current customers know what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or what they are doing in the community to help fight back. Are you open for online orders or curbside to go? “During this time in which the restaurant industry has seen huge declines in dine-in volume, it is encouraging that more than half of our respondents said they are maintaining or increasing their takeout and delivery spend,” said Cindy Judge, CEO of SRG in Ad Age. Let your most valuable customers know how they can do business with you and make it as seamless as possible. Brands might also consider pausing testing new audiences or conquesting and focus instead on core audiences and loyal customers.

May – Marketers may consider re-aligning their media mix to match changing consumer consumption behaviors. For instance, studies are showing radio, billboards and other OOH media are seeing a decline in viewership while traditional TV, connected TV, as well as social media and online video, have seen an increase in time spent with media. Comscore has released multiple studies on media consumption habits and how they have rapidly evolved since quarantines began.

  • Television has become a core source of news, information and entertainment.
  • In-home data usage is on the rise thanks to millions of adults being at home and schools shutting down.
  • Analysis of digital consumption has revealed a shift in category trends.

Advertisers, if not already, should consider these changing consumption patterns when deciding how to best utilize their media investments. Many marketers have already shifted media budgets according to the IAB, “More than a third (35 percent) of advertisers are adjusting their in-market tactics and are increasing: Audience targeting (+38 percent), OTT / CTV device targeting (+35 percent), Mobile/Tablet device targeting.”

Must – As a brand or CMO, you must be thinking about messaging. How can you convey that you understand your target’s perspective? Not just say, but convey your experience, leadership and ability to weather the storm. According to the IAB, “The majority (63 percent) of advertisers are adjusting their messaging and are increasing: mission-based marketing (+42 percent) and cause-related marketing (+41 percent).”

Messaging must change if it’s currently focused on in-store visits, for example, and focus instead on an easy online shopping experience. For others, the message may be to not have an offer or call to action, and simply let the community know how you are responding. No brand wants to be seen as taking advantage of a crisis or drawing unnecessary crowds with a big sale. Telecommunications industry leaders like AT&T and Verizon are responding with unique messages for this time any many carriers have added extra data to plans in response to the crisis.

Messaging must convey empathy first, then value. Here are some guidelines to help marketers think about messaging during this time.

Over time, these pivot points may change, and we may go back to our pre-crisis marketing plans, but for now, we must revisit our strategies and refocus our message. If possible, marketers should consider re-allocating media budgets to take advantage of increasing digital and in-home media consumption and have a plan to thoughtfully engage with your current customers now and post-crisis.

Marketers who stay quiet or withdraw during this time will have some catching up to do once this has passed in terms of messaging. Agencies who lean into this challenge and help their clients navigate this experience will solidify partnerships and strengthen brands for years to come.

My New Normal – Working in the Epicenter of the Coronavirus

Every day, Mindstream Media Group lives our agency values of accountability, tenacity, resourcefulness, innovation and collaboration as we work together and with our clients. These values are even more critical during this time of crisis while we guide clients through the current state and plan economic rebound strategies to move their business forward.  

In our work-from-home worlds with much uncertainty looming, we’re challenged further to embody these values, while maintaining a very different work-life balance.  

Below, Account Services Specialist Tracey Murphy, who lives in New York City, demonstrates the tenacity needed to work in the national epicenter of the virus. In addition to demonstrating our agency values in her work, she describes how those values carry over into our new normal. 

As someone who has spent their entire career in advertising, I was taught to follow data. Cost per click, click through rates, percentage of lift over control. I never thought the first statistic I’d check upon waking up in the morning would be death rates.  

As I write this, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Bronx, New York is 21,441. Two of my best friends and my nephew account for three of those cases. The total number of deaths is 1,425. This isn’t New York State or even New York City. This is only one borough. My home.  

Vague number projections were suddenly names of people I knew and then became loved ones all too quickly. My Facebook feed is filled with RIP statuses for lives lost. I can’t even fathom the number of times I type three, what seems like meaningless, words of “I’m so sorry” per day 

I’ve lived and worked in this city my entire life. I even went to college at Bernard Baruch College within the City University of New York. Now, the thought of stepping onto the subway or a bus ignites a panic attack. That is not me, but like everything else, I’m not the same.  

I have an autoimmune disease called lupus. Thankfully, it’s been managed so well in recent years I, at times, almost forget about it, but I fit right into those high-risk groups you hear about on daily briefings. My husband is a postal worker, which means he is an essential employee who needs to go to work every day no matter what the risk is. While I am blessed to be able to work from home and stay inside, my son and I are still possibly exposed each day.  

My mother, who lives in my building, can’t see us. She’s a lung cancer survivor who is missing part of her lung and is over 75. Easter dinner was spent over FaceTime, because it’s simply not safe to see her.  

As careful as we are, there are no guarantees. This virus has spread across this city like wildfire, and no one can say when it will stop. First it was April, now it’s May, and I’m doubtful I’m leaving my apartment any time before June. My son can’t finish school with his friends this year, but learning to teach common core fourth grade math between work meetings is the least of our challenges. 

Governor Cuomo said that there will be no on or off switch for this crisis, which isn’t news to any of us. As he noted, I won’t wake up tomorrow and see the headline of the Daily News saying, “It’s Gone!”  All we can do to flatten the curve is stay socially distant, and pray we stay safe and we’ll make it through.

New York City is the nucleus of our economy. That isn’t my New Yorker bias talking. We are the home of Wall Street and all things big business. The footage of an empty Times Square not only carries the awful significance of the dire times we are in but makes me physically sick. This vibrant and bustling place in which I grew up is barren, like the part in The Lion King after Mufasa died and everything turned gray and lifeless. It’s supposed to be spring, the time of rebirth and growth, not self-isolation for survival.  

This is not only a New York problem or even an American problem. It’s global, but when we weren’t looking, New York became the epicenter of it all. Tomorrow is promised to no one, but I find myself wondering when I’m working on a project if I will survive long enough to see it through. I take a deep breath every day when I wake up to make sure I don’t have chest pain, and then think, Great, I have another day. I create scopes of work and schedules for client projects and wonder where I’ll be on those later dates.  

I’m not an expert who can make economic projections, but I can say with the utmost certainty that my life and outlook have been completely changed, no matter what happens. On that day that I go back to my office, or head to a client meeting or lunch as I’ve done a million times before, I’m probably going to keep my distance, have Purell within reach (if I can find it) and be itching to wash my hands the second I’m near a bathroom, and I’ll bet good money my client will feel the same way. 

The year 2020 brings a much different way to do business, but maybe almost a better one. All of my client emails now close with stay safe, as my top financial client is also based in New York City. We’re all making plans for our initiatives into the future weeks and months on both sides, but don’t vocalize how we don’t know where either of us will be then.  

I’ll know this is really over when I’ll say, “We’ll get this to you next Friday,” and feel confident I’ll be here next Friday, not laid up with a sky-high feverin the hospital or worse. Until then, I’ll be happy for another day.