Thrive Advertising is in the Seattle area, the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, and we’re very aware of the fear and anxiety that’s taken hold of our country. We want to share some ideas and information about advertising during fear and uncertainty. I started Thrive Advertising in October 2008, right in the heart of the 2008 Presidential Election. I was working for the ABC TV station up until then, and we were neck high in political advertising dollars and teetering on the brink of a Recession. Some people thought it was nuts to leave my job at the TV station to start an ad agency during uncertainty. Still, that risk paid off big time, and what was so exciting was 2009 was a great year for my ad agency because businesses had to advertise to stay in business. Therefore, today I want to share with you some ideas to keep your business thriving by marketing during the Coronavirus.
The temptation is to cut marketing dollars in a Recession, and that’s a big mistake. I’ve spent the last 15+ years meeting with thousands of business owners, and I’ve gained an incredible amount of wisdom through watching these smart entrepreneurs navigate all types of markets. The consistent thing I see in successful business people versus unsuccessful ones is the ability to stay the course through fear. Smart owners know that if they stop advertising, they will be sure to experience significant drops in business. Conversely, if they continue or increase their advertising, they’re staying top of mind, and if they provide a compelling call to action, they’ll bring customers through their door and weather the storm.
Marketing During the Coronavirus
I’ll give you an example from this week in Seattle with one of our savvier local business owners. We work for a large, locally-owned HVAC company, run by a smart businessman who knows the value of keeping calm and carrying on. He knows that the TV viewership numbers (ratings) are THROUGH THE ROOF right now! Fear drives people to media and Quarantines give people more time to absorb media. Therefore, this smart HVAC owner launched a big promotion this week to increase sales during the Quarantines. What’s the logic behind this? Well, people are watching more TV and seeing more of their ads. They’re stuck at home or choosing to be home because they’re cautious, so consumers will see his ads and realize that they’ve delayed their HVAC maintenance or need a new furnace. He’s also smart to promote a relevant product, a whole-house air filtration system. So we anticipate his response to being fantastic! Here is a link to the new HVAC commercial.
Another client of ours is a large, established real estate brokerage firm with 34 branches in the PNW. They’re seeing increases in business activity because people have time to shop for homes online, and to tackle their to-do list for getting their home listed. Real Estate is considered an essential business in Washington State and Coldwell Banker Bain is leading the industry by pivoting its message to resonate with its demographic during this stressful time. Their new commercial perfectly balances compassion, strength, reassurance, and a “we’re all in this together” type message that deeply resonates with the intended demographic. This beautiful real estate commercial was produced by Coldwell Banker Bain V.P. of Marketing and Creative Scott Hannaman and Executive Producer Jeff Hindle of optik DIGITAL. By maintaining a level head and not giving in to the hysteria, these business owners are thriving through the panic.
What happens to the advertisers who stop? I’m afraid for them, genuinely. When the economy is shaky, and fear is gripping the community, it’s hard to stay level-headed. But, the advertisers who panic and cancel their marketing will fair far worse than those who power through and stay top of mind. The ratings are HUGE. Media use is up significantly. When I worked in TV News, the big news days were the absolutely biggest rating days. That’s just a fact. That hasn’t changed, regardless of people’s media preferences. We know how to reach people who are tuned in and engaged with media now. So the best advice I can give you, after being given intimate access to thousands of smart and savvy business owners, is to stay calm, stay the course, and use the increased media engagement to your benefit. This fear will pass. The bad news is a lot can change in 30 days, the good news is a lot can change in 30 days. Marketing during the Coronavirus will absolutely set businesses apart.
If you need help creating a media plan, we’re your media buying team. Give us a call to talk through a media strategy that will increase your business during this confusing time. Marketing during the Coronavirus will set you apart from your competition.
Lastly, about the COVID-19 in general, and our community’s well being, I think local is the key here. If everyone helps their local community, the kindness will spread faster than the fear and the Coronavirus.
Major school closures are starting in the Greater Seattle area, many for six-plus weeks, so as a community, we need to ask what our role can be in supporting the community as a whole. One of my concerns is for kids who rely on two meals each day at school. With school closures, this is an important consideration, and we need to gather together as a community to support our local families. The Maple Valley Food Bank needs monetary donations, but also stands ready to help, their Executive Director said. “You do not need to be a current client to receive help. Also, Backpack Buddies, which is a fantastic organization if you’re unfamiliar, provides food to students in need, each Friday before the weekend. They plan to continue to provide weekly support during any school closure. Backpack Buddies President said that “even if your student has not received support from Backpack Buddies in the past, you may reach out to them.”
Also impacted are families with childcare needs. If neighbors can help each other with childcare, this could be an enormous blessing. Instead of panicking, let’s focus on helping one another.