Tips for Effective Ad Messaging Post-COVID-19

If you told me three months ago that the term “contactless” was going to be a trending term, I would have thought it was a new way of saying “wearing glasses” or maybe a new Lasik surgery procedure. I used to have to pour my margarita in my child’s sippy cup when a meltdown forced us to leave the restaurant early. (We’ve all been there.) Now, they have margaritas to go or they just might even deliver the margarita to your house.

Messaging and Terms have changed:

Delivery > Contactless Delivery

Dine In > Curbside Pickup

Birthdays > Birthday Parades and yard signs, OMG the yard signs

Graduation > Graduation Parades

Employees Must Wash Hands > Everyone Must Wash Hands

Why are they wearing a mask > Don’t forget your mask

Not only have our conversations and the way we search for information online due to COVID-19 changed, but there have also been fundamental changes in our daily lives and behaviors. No routine is the same. No behavior is the same. And for advertisers, this requires a change in tactics to communicate more effectively with consumers.

Finding the Right Messages and Content to Resonate with Potential Customers

Conditions will vary depending on which state you’re in, but with states taking a phased approach to re-opening, campaigns should be rolled out in a way that is aligned with the targeted state’s status; however, to be effective, audiences must be segmented in many more nuanced ways than just who is in a lockdown state, a partially open or fully open state. We look at segments such as past converters and examine unique messages that re-engage these customers and entice them to come back. We also take a look at a brand’s products and services and evaluate new messages that might be able to reach all prospects who may be willing to consider a new brand or business now that certain conditions have changed in their life. COVID-19 has created new audiences and new opportunities, and we’re working with many of our clients to aggressively explore new ways to capture a new set of future customers.

Strategy can be visualized in phases. The first phase is focused on a heavy, multi-message approach to help determine what resonates. Next, the best performing messages are aligned with the current customer base to re-engage them and capture their attention again. And finally, the right message for a new, growing audience segment is dialed in. We use data to validate the strategy while continuing to optimize and energize our clients’ businesses back to pre-COVID levels.

Relevant Messaging is a Moving Target

When the virus first started to change our world, many advertisers began pulling campaigns that would not resonate in that climate. Some advertisers quickly pivoted to more sensitive, timely ad copy while others struggled to figure out their messaging.

When the quarantines began, it was important to be mindful of these changes and make necessary adjustments. We recommended being more sensitive to those adjusting to life at home. There was worry about others and the uncertain future ahead. Clients’ messaging changed in order to show they were still there for customers and their needs. During high-stress times, brands benefit by staying true and authentic to their values and reassuring to customers. A financial client, Ameriprise, used this time to change their display messaging to assure prospective clients that they will help them navigate through market volatility challenges.

To help consumers get through this, focus shifted to what specific products or services made the most sense for each client’s target audience. For example, for our restaurant or QSR clients, messaging was adjusted to let their customers know they were still open for business, even if in a different capacity through curbside pickup, drive-thru, or delivery.

We wanted to avoid being salesy and keep the focus of our messaging on the value our clients provide. It was also important that CTAs made sense as to not imply a sense of urgency during a pandemic.

With many states being in the process of re-opening, finding what messaging best resonates with customers now is a goal everyone should be working towards.

Test, Test and Test Some More!

Being open to experiment and continually monitor targeting performance is important, as we adjust and evolve to the very sensitive nature of our marketing climate.

We believe that most brands and businesses are in a clear shift away from the crisis and “here for you” ads. Instead, they are moving into communications that are meant to engage and remind consumers that their favorite stores and restaurants are still here and that they’re excited and prepared to welcome them back. “Open for business” is the rallying cry.

With our clients here at Mindstream Media Group, we have been reevaluating and testing the messages placed in front of prospective customers to determine if they are well aligned with this new normal due to COVID-19. The usual “come see us” type of advertising to encourage customers to visit our clients’ stores and purchase their products, for instance, may not be the best while certain businesses remain closed or partially closed to foot traffic and states are maintaining different “open” standards. “Come see us” means many things now.

For two of our clients providing “need-based” services, we adjusted search ad copy to let their customers know they are still open for business, but also to make customers aware of the extra precautions they are taking to ensure their safety.

We are working with our clients to explore shifts in messaging and continuously adjust as state and city guidelines, as well as human behavior, evolve. Being successful in unprecedented times requires evaluating many new types of messages and targeted audience segments.

What’s Next?

As states gradually reopen and remove restrictions, audiences are beginning to change and have differing attitudes toward the current state of the country. Be mindful that life isn’t going to bounce back to normal for everybody. Everyone is adjusting and ad messaging will need to continually evolve. We understand our clients’ businesses and are working with them to advise their customers on their safety measures. As stay-at-home orders are being eased, we’re staying on top of the guidelines to properly promote our clients’ products and services to help them rebound successfully.

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

Week of May 18, 2020


Greetings from the home office.

As business shifts from crisis survival mode to adaptation and long-term recovery, brands could find that some pivots made to their core offering and marketing strategies prove to be long-lasting. Both a blessing and a curse, the pandemic accelerated the timeline for innovation. The urgency of the situation also forced greater collaboration across not only departments but geography. In this roundup, we’re taking a look at how messaging strategy and consumer behavior have evolved and what marketers can expect as states slowly begin to reopen and we all attempt to regain a sense of normalcy.

How is messaging strategy evolving?

“During these uncertain and unprecedented times of social distancing and quarantine, remember we are all in this together as we adjust to the new normal. Stay safe.”

Sound familiar? It certainly feels like just another version of every other brand’s message right now. But, as the weeks roll on and brands continue to execute meaningful campaigns to secure their place in the rebound, it’s crucial to monitor messaging strategy in relation to consumer sentiment and competition.

You don’t want to say the same things everyone else is saying, but you want to acknowledge the landscape. Your message a month ago may have been wonderfully empathetic and yet disruptive, but now it sounds like everyone else’s.

Are consumers tired of COVID-19 messaging? Are ads resonating? Is it time to change themes? It depends. This study by Ace Metrix shows brands are having a harder time breaking through the clutter in a sea of sameness. However, opportunity still exists to connect with consumers using pandemic related messaging, but it will take a fresh creative approach to capture viewer attention. Learn more.

Source:  Ace Metrix

With the 2020 Olympics postponed, what’s a sponsor to do? Press pause on the campaigns they’ve spent two years perfecting or pivot to adapt to the circumstances? Here’s a look at what each brand is doing with their $100 million buy-in to the four-year stint in The Olympic Partners program. Learn more.

The disparate opposition in opinions on how the pandemic is being handled makes a brand marketer’s job even more difficult. No matter what you do, you can’t appeal to all audiences. This blog offers tips on how to tailor messaging for each channel that takes your brand, market and consumers into consideration. Learn more.

How is consumer behavior changing?

On average it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. After weeks of altered consumer behavior due to quarantine-induced lockdowns and staggering unemployment rates, it’s likely some will endure. This brief from Marketing Dive dissects Kantar’s latest COVID-19 Barometer that looks at how consumer behavior, attitudes and expectations have been impacted and what the lasting effects may be. Learn more.

This study conducted by Survata on consumer buying preferences shows that despite rethinking their total spending, consumers are choosing brand-name products over store brands or private labels in certain categories. Consumers are three times more likely to research products prior to purchase and 40 percent of respondents cited trust in the brand as the biggest influencing factor driving purchasing decisions. Learn more.

Source:  Survata

Although consumers may prefer brand-name products, supply chain shortages could force them to settle for whatever they can find on the shelf. The big question though is what the long-term impact will be. The key to regaining straying loyalists is understanding what drives the desire for a specific brand and leveraging that to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Learn more.

What should marketers expect?

This blog from Forbes considers what marketers should expect in the post-pandemic future and how to shift marketing strategies to reflect the changes in consumerism and start gaining a competitive edge now. Work now to position your business to successfully meet the pent-up demand as restrictions are lifted and consumers are back in the market for your products or services. Learn more.

Nielsen has mapped out three scenarios for re-emergence beyond the pandemic: rebound, reboot and reinvent. Scott McKenzie, Nielsen Global Intelligence Leader said, “The world is fundamentally recalibrating right now. Consumer habits are changing at pace and understanding those changes, in the context of these scenarios, will be critical as businesses prioritize how they too recalibrate to meet the changed circumstances driven by COVID-19.” Learn more.

Like Darwin said, “adapt or die.” Adapting your brand’s marketing strategies is a must for survival on the other side of the pandemic. This webinar by Nielsen provides insight into shifts in media consumption, the importance of continued advertising investment and marketing strategy action items to adapt for success. Learn more.

Compiled by Salesforce Research, the sixth annual “State of Marketing” report is based on insight from 7,000 senior marketers leading through this time of change. It underscores the importance of finding innovative ways to improve the customer experience and drive engagement. 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.

Google My Business Expected to Become More Powerful for SMBs Post-COVID-19

During the COVID-19 crisis, many local businesses have turned to Google My Business (GMB) to keep their customers informed of business updates related to the pandemic (updated hours of operation, temporary closings, etc.). Keeping location information on Google updated is important under normal circumstances, but it is even more important to keep relevant business information updated during a pandemic. As users adapt to a new normal of social distancing, it’s imperative that businesses ensure their location information is up to date to keep customers informed and safe.

Engagement and Search Query Shifts

It is no surprise that engagement and search queries have shifted on Google My Business over the past couple of months as many businesses have had to drastically change how they operate. Instead of users searching “What are your hours?” users are searching “Are you open while we shelter in place?” Driving direction requests are down 60 percent across all verticals while website clicks and phone calls are starting to increase.

The COVID-19 impact on Google reviews is still a mystery at this point. In March, Google announced they would be temporarily disabling reviews (leaving a new review, responding to reviews). However, over the past few weeks reviews have started to trickle back onto listings. Turning reviews back on signifies that GMB functionality is returning to normal, meaning businesses and marketers will need to once again monitor reviews on Google.

As online behavior shifts, so should local businesses. In addition to keeping location information on Google up to date, consider updating your website and social media channels with relevant business information and updates.

GMB More Powerful Post-Pandemic

As businesses begin to reopen and customers start to venture out of quarantine, users will turn to Google My Business for quick and accurate location information. According to a study by BrightLocal, 68 percent of local marketing experts said GMB was more important now than it was a year ago. Businesses should be prepared to use GMB as a tool to communicate reopening information to customers.

One feature of the GMB tool kit expected to thrive post-pandemic is Google Posts. Google Posts allow businesses to more easily communicate with customers by publishing information in the search results. Due to the ease of use and ability to quickly communicate, Google Posts will likely gain wider adoption among GMB users after the pandemic.

Google My Business is anticipating the reopening of businesses and evolving their digital tool kit in response. To tighten up integration of online ordering, Google acquired and Pointy, both online ordering systems. Additionally, Google may roll out new tools in the pipeline earlier than expected.

Google My Business has always been a valuable tool for businesses to publish their location information for customers. Over the past few years, it has evolved into a local marketing platform that allows businesses to directly communicate with customers through Google Posts, manage reviews, purchase local advertisements, etc. Over the next few months, we will continue to see the GMB platform evolve as customers progress towards normalcy post-COVID-19.

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

Week of May 4, 2020


Greetings from the home office.

Little by little, the tide is beginning to shift. States across the country are beginning to ease lockdowns and lift stay-at-home orders. Businesses are reopening, and brands are starting to shift their messaging to reflect the improving consumer sentiment. Despite many unknowns in a sea of challenges, advertisers are cautiously navigating into the next phase. Some brands are restarting their advertising efforts. Those that aren’t are most certainly thinking ahead to develop their strategic media plans and consider their messaging approach for the next several months. Now is the time to maximize your brand’s positioning and take proactive rather than reactive actions.

This week’s content roundup reflects this evolution towards a glimmer of optimism.

A survey conducted by Mitto found that 41 percent of consumers are tired of COVID-19 related ads and are ready to hear non-pandemic related messaging from brands. The key for marketers will be targeting messaging appropriately based on the differing restrictions in each market area. Learn more.

After weeks of somber advertising messages showing solidarity with the quarantined public, brands are beginning to shift messaging to a lighter approach. While it’s certainly difficult to predict what life will be like after months of isolation, brands are preparing for an improved Q3 and incorporating humor to help us all feel hopeful about a return to normalcy. Learn more.

Marketers are now focusing on making their communications relevant in uncertain times and are overly cautious about sending the wrong message. Here’s another look at how some brands are using humor and levity to provide a much-needed break from the sad news of the pandemic. Learn more.

The initial panic is subsiding, and advertisers are beginning to take a proactive approach to their marketing. With so much of the future still uncertain, brands remain cautious of spending but are resuming search campaigns and planning for multiple future scenarios, most notably in the travel industry. Agencies, as well as CMOs, are optimistic about the remainder of 2020. Learn more.

Source:  Twitter

Although there are must-do actions every brand must take during this time, focusing solely on the short-term could mean “winning the battle but losing the war.” Now is the time for strategic planning to prepare for the rebound. Here are six rules for brand revitalization in the post-coronavirus future. Learn more.

Here’s a look from Ad Age at the latest marketing efforts by some of the biggest brands in the marketplace, updated daily. From Chick-fil-A encouraging kids to #BandTogether on musical projects to Zappos’ Customer Service for Anything, marketing creativity is blooming. Learn more.

Although every industry vertical has been impacted differently, the path to navigating the pandemic can be broken down into three stages – respond, rebuild, recover. Priorities evolve as a business moves through each stage. Google has created a guide to help marketers stay ahead of the changing landscape and proactively shift digital marketing strategies to align with consumer needs at each stage. Learn more.

Source:  Google

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.