Should you market your brand during the Coronavirus Crisis?

26th April 2019

written by George Hughes

If you are worried about how to communicate with your customers and the wider world during this crisis, then you are not alone. It’s a hot topic right now for many brand marketers. A recent survey by Advertising Perceptions found that nearly half of advertisers have stopped campaigns already in progress. So should you continue your brand’s marketing during the Coronavirus crisis and if so, then how should you do it? 

 

A recent Endelman survey of 12,000 people in the world’s leading economies found that consumers are demanding that brands act and communicate differently during the Covid-19 crisis, with nearly two-thirds (65%) saying how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products. So it’s clear that the next few months will be an important time for brand trust. Yes, your actions are under extreme scrutiny right now but that doesn’t mean you should stop your marketing. Ask yourself the question, could inaction actually be worse than taking action?

My background is as a storyteller, a marketer and a content creator. Through 14 years in the TV industry and then building a content agency, I’ve learnt that the most important element of my craft is understanding the audience and putting myself in their shoes. This is what you must do now, as the way you communicate with your audience is critical. Remember that everything you do right now from a marketing perspective should be in the context of the fact we are going through a global crisis. And here are some of the most important things you should consider.

Be Sensitive

It seems obvious but this is one of the most fundamental elements to consider when communicating during this time. Remember that some people are going through hell. They are stuck at home with their kids driving them up the wall, they may have taken a hit to their income, are worried about losing their jobs or have already been made redundant. They’re worried about mortgage payments, rent or how they will pay their bills. They are scared for their loved ones, may have been extremely ill or had a friend or family member who has lost their life as a result of this pandemic.

You must put yourself in the shoes of your audience and be sensitive to the struggles that they are going through. Many brands have made the decision to pull advertising campaigns due to the current crisis including Cadbury’s Easter Egg campaign that showed a grandfather hugging his grandchildren and KFC’s “Finger Licking Good” campaign that had people licking their fingers. It makes sense that you should not be advertising using insensitive or inappropriate messaging that might upset people or send out the wrong message. 

Be Helpful

In this time, the best thing you can do is provide help, assistance and value in any form you can. When the dust settles on this crisis, we will look back and see how brands handled themselves. The Sports Directs and Wetherspoons of the world will be under fire for their response to the crisis where other brands will emerge with their hands clean.

What can you do to help your customers, peers and wider world? Some have formed partnerships with other brands to offer help, they are creating useful or entertaining content and shifting their focus or production onto altruistic activities.

For example, BrewDog turned to manufacturing hand sanitiser during the shortage. As a result they’ve jumped 4.6 points in consumer perception according to Yougov BrandIndex and are now top of the rankings for beer and cider brands for “buzz”. But it’s also worth mentioning that the “buzz” is a balance of negative and positive things being said as some people question their “agenda”. Which brings me on to my next point…

Brewdog Hand Sanitiser

Don’t be Disingenuous

Consumers are cynical. We’ve become mistrustful of brands “agendas” as we’ve been let down so many times in the past by marketers looking to capitalise on current events. Look no further than the Pepsi campaign with Kendall Jenner that trivialised the Black Lives matter movement and had to be pulled due to consumer backlash. We’ve become experts at spotting altruistic vs disingenuous behaviour.

If you are planning to offer help and assistance during this time, the best thing you can do is to take any type of hidden agenda off the table. Just put it out of your mind. If you start to think more altruistically then it will be easier to provide value to people without there being a backlash. Whatever you do, don’t try to exploit the situation by “jumping on the band-waggon” to your own benefit. I’d argue that Burger King are treading a fine line with this ad campaign in France that is advertising how to make your own Whopper under quarantine.

As Owen Lee, chief creative officer of FCB Inferno told the Drum “Brands are nervous about appearing to profit from this crisis. The conversation is being had in many client and agency organisations, but they have to be absolutely sure they are helping people [and] not just making money from it, or being seen to make money from it.

There’s some discussion going on right now in marketing circles about how many brands including McDonalds, Coke and Audi have created “social distancing logos”. Many argue that this belittles the severity of the situation. For more about how brands can build trust during the Coronavirus crisis, take a look at this interview from Ad Age with PR guru Richard Endelman.

Social distancing logos

Be Positive

The world is currently full of negativity and sadness. Flick on the news and it’s mostly doom and gloom. People are suffering from serious mental health issues as a result of this crisis and anxiety levels are through the roof.

Try to be as positive as possible (with the caveat of observing rule #1 of being sensitive). Give people hope. Give people inspiration. Show us all that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that in this period of desperation there is so much to be thankful for like community, family, relationships, endurance and human spirit. JC Decaux in Australia have just launched an out of home campaign to provide messages to frontline workers offering their support. How could you spread positivity with your brand? 

Don’t Brag

When I say don’t brag, I mean specifically in regards to the Coronavirus crisis. If you have a new product that was due to be released or a milestone in your company that has nothing to do with the pandemic then of course you should shout about it. A Kantar survey of 35,000 global consumers found that only 8% thought brands should stop advertising and 50% think brands should continue to talk in the same way they always have. 

What you shouldn’t do is tell everyone how well your company is doing despite the crisis, that you don’t know what everyone is complaining about and that business has never been so great. Some industries have not been as affected as badly as others but some, like the travel or hospitality industries are in utter turmoil. It’s insensitive to belittle the issues facing other people by talking about your success. Remember to strike that balance of being sensitive, but positive.

Certainly don’t follow in Kim Kardashian’s footsteps by offering a $1 Million donation to families affected by Covid-19 whilst also announcing the restocking of her shapewear line SKIMS. This unsurprisingly caused a backlash. 

Don’t Offer Medical Advice

Leave the advice and best practice to scientists, government bodies and the health service. Be extremely careful about sharing any videos, articles or other information related to the crisis which directly relates to people’s wellbeing. There is a lot of fake news doing the rounds and if you repost something that is inaccurate, you will become part of the misinformation problem that is costing lives. Check the source is solid before sharing any advice. And whatever you do, don’t share hearsay. Gossip spreads like wildfire on social media which is how everyone went into panic a little over a week ago when the “Army were moving into London to lock us down” which proved to have no substance. You can support government advice such as social distancing and other rules but don’t start offering your own.

Don’t Stop Marketing

It’s really important that life goes on in spite of the crisis. People expect to hear from your brand or business and an absence of comms could damage your image. With so many people at home right now and spending so much time online, you have their full attention like never before.

A recent Endelman study found that “In terms of communications, about 90% of customers expect brands to keep the public fully informed of changes to how they are now behaving and operating” and that “Eighty-four per cent of respondents now expect businesses to focus advertising on how products and services can help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges, while the vast majority expect brands to show they are aware of the crisis and its impact.”

Follow the steps above and think harder about what you are putting out there, but don’t stop marketing. Remember, people are scared. They are worried. They don’t know what the future holds. And you can help them. As time passes, we are getting used to this “new normal” and life will continue the same but different. So how will you adapt to the change? 

 

George Hughes is a former television Director and the Founder of video marketing agency Small Films. His company helps brands to communicate with a wider audience using strategic video content.

 

Want a professional hand in creating compelling, authoritative video content as part of your marketing? Get in touch today.

 

Youtube Marketing is a great tool for driving your business forward. So here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about why it works so well and how to use it…

Did you know that after Google, YouTube is actually the second biggest search engine in the world? With an average of 5 billions videos being watched on the platform every day.  

Its an impressive statistic and reinforces the idea that people love to acquire knowledge and entertain themselves through the medium of video.  Whether we are learning to cook, checking out movie reviews or laughing at funny cat videos, video offers an engaging and easy way to digest content.

With so many people using YouTube in their day-to-day lives, it offers businesses a fantastic opportunity to reach their customers and grow their audience.

 Why YouTube Marketing?

Many businesses turn to social media channels like Facebook or LinkedIn before they embrace YouTube marketing. They underestimate the potential that YouTube can offer.

 So how effective is YouTube Marketing and why should businesses be making more from this platform? Let’s look at the facts:

Put simply, YouTube offers you a way to reach your target audience in a way that other channels cannot.

Marketing on YouTube

 YouTube marketing is a deep subject which spans from the tiny details of profile optimisation to reaching vast audiences through running YouTube ads. In this section, we look at the fundamentals of how and why you should be marketing your business on YouTube. 

Develop Authority

Representing your business on YouTube offers an opportunity to build trust and grow authority by creating content that educates and resonates with your target audience.

The medium of video allows you to add a level of personality to your business that is otherwise very difficult to achieve outside of face-to-face meetings with clients. It provides a platform where your business can communicate their position and views in a concise and engaging way.

Remember that YouTube is a social media platform. Your content should provoke conversation and generate interest in your business offering.

Increase Reach                  

Given the stats we gave at the beginning of this article, it should be fairly obvious that your target audience is very likely to be using YouTube in some way. The potential reach is huge, but this doesn’t mean that you can simply demand attention.

By working on creating an entertaining, authoritative and engaging presence on the platform, you put yourself in the best position to earn your audience’s attention.

YouTube enables you to reach new demographics that you might otherwise struggle to reach.

Boost SEO

Producing high performing YouTube videos is a great way to get your business found on search engines. The first and most obvious reason for this is the fact that YouTube IS the second biggest search engine, therefore if you are ranking high on their search results you are going to see high levels of traffic.

In addition to this, search engines like Google know that video is the most engaging type of content and in most cases serves YouTube videos near the top or first in their search results (after paid ads obviously). Just look at the results for “How to make YouTube marketing video” below…

So, if you are ranking high on YouTube, you will likely rank high on Google as well.

YouTube Marketing: Top Tips

  1. Know your audience. Understand who you are trying to target and create engaging, compelling content that they would want to watch. Just using YouTube videos to highlight the benefits and features of your products and services will get you nowhere.
  2. Target keywords. Just like on other search engines, YouTube returns results based on user search terms and matches them with the most relevant content. Make sure you are using the best keywords possible in your title and descriptions.
  3. Keep it fresh. Just like on all other social media, posting regular, quality content is the best way to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. It is also likely that the search algorithms on YouTube place importance on up-to-date content, so don’t shy away from updating older content when new information is available.
  4. Use explanative, engaging cover images. Imagine your video is like a mini advert in the YouTube search results. Your video preview should be highly engaging and help people understand what they are going to get. Check out the covers below to see how this is done.

Smart YouTube marketing can offer businesses a great way to reach their target audience in an authentic and powerful way. Getting started is as simple as creating a branded account, developing a strategy that aligns video marketing to your business goals and creating your first few videos.

Want a professional hand in creating compelling, authoritative content which can be used on YouTube? Get in touch today.

 

Interactive video is a digital or linear video that supports user interaction through clicks, touches, taps and movement and goes beyond the ordinary play and pause technology.

Viewers become the creator and navigate themselves through the video choosing the narrative, selecting the storyline and making decisions based on their interests.

Interactive video for online advertising can be extremely rewarding. You can achieve a much more detailed and personal account of your viewers personality and it has the potential to be worth a lot more than linear video or targeted marketing combined.

 

Interactive Video first started as a simple click on a video advert that would play before an online TV show or on a pre-roll ad on YouTube. The ad would ask the viewer to click on the product or image that they would like to learn more about and this information was then captured by the brand.

Brands like Maybelline, Burger King, Mcdonalds and Volkswagen are already using interactive video in advertising to better understand and engage their customers. But there should be a lot more brands using it, especially in 2020.

Interactive video offers a lot of opportunity and creativity. And it’s not just online but also out of home devices where interactive video can be used. For example, McDonalds are constantly doing outdoor interactive advertising like this Poster Puzzle display that encouraged the public to solve the puzzle in order to “sort their heads out” which promoted their €1 large coffee.

 

Interactive video online is still new territory for many brands and with just a few early adopters.  However, this does not mean that interactive video doesn’t work – it just means that it is not a well trodden path. And because the internet isn’t saturated with interactive videos this means that there is a lot of space and opportunity to harness this medium and gain some great engagement.

Here are some examples of interactive videos from brands that have worked well.

This is an interactive video Deloitte made for their recruitment scheme. The viewer is taken on an interactive experience of someone’s first day at Deloitte and they need to make important decisions throughout the day that will reflect whether you will fit in at Deloitte.

This is another example of an interactive video made by Maybelline New York. It’s a tutorial video to help people use and apply makeup in the right way and allows the viewer to choose which type of makeup style they are interested in learning about.

As well as allowing the viewer to choose the video’s narrative based on their personality you can also create interactive videos that allow viewers to select products to purchase or learn more about.

You can also use interactive video to understand your viewers touch points, interests and needs. A video made for GSK by Wirewax where the viewer can choose what part of the body they are having athletic difficulties with. From the choice made the video will show the viewer a workout routine to help that area of hindrance.

Do these videos work? They definitely help to engage viewers and get them to pay more attention to the video, the brand, the products that are on display and the message of the video. But, do they work at capturing information and converting a viewer into a customer?

We know that 82 percent of all web traffic is predicted to come from video this by 2022 (Cisco) so, the need for video content that stands out from the crowd has never been more poignant. We also know from research that Interactive video content generates 2x more conversions than passive content (Kapost), 4-5x more page views than static content (LinkedIn) and, 93% of marketers say interactive content is somewhat or very effective at educating the buyer, versus just 70% for static content (Demand Genreport). A study by Wyzowl found that 23% of video marketers have used Interactive video as a channel (up from 20% in 2018) and out of those, 83% say it’s been successful for them (up from 78% in 2018).

Interactive videos work great as internal videos for recruitment, induction and training, B2B explainer videos and B2B marketing videos, and they work well as B2C online advertising and social media marketing. The best thing about interactive video is the amount of data you can capture and how precise that data can be. Because you are leading the audience into a set of options and based on their decision you are able to understand them on a more personal scale. With every click you learn more about your audience. You can then group them more effectively into categories based on interest and values and then better market to them at a later stage (Kaltura). Because your audience is in control of their video experience and their experience with your brand, they are a lot more receptive, open and ready to engage, making them more willing to give up their time and information. 

If you are thinking about interactive video then have a play around with the ones that are out there already and see whether you can imagine your brand using this form of marketing. If you don’t want to go straight into interactive video then do something similar to Buzzfeed on Youtube and try some interactive quiz adverts that ask the audience a few simple questions about the market. Buzzfeed gets over 75% of it’s Quizz traffic from social media and a lot of quizzes used in marketing work exceptionally well at engaging and capturing customers (Mashable).

To find out more about using interactive video contact us.

A brand that is dominating the world of  content marketing right now is the notorious Nike Inc; the world’s largest athletic footwear and clothing brand. Over 55 years, Nike is risen to become a shining example of a brand that has it all; market share, $34 billion yearly revenue, contracts with world renowned sportsmen, factories in over 40 countries and selling worldwide in over 170. Nike is doing phenomenally well and shows no sign of slowing down.  Competition is fierce in this space, with brands like Adidas, Puma and New Balance all taking their slice of the market however, something about Nike and its strategy has placed them at the top of the playing field and has kept them from being overtaken or outshined. So what is it that makes Nike different?

 

Founded in Oregon in 1964 by young entrepreneur Phil Knight, Nike started off as a reseller of Japanese running shoes selling to well known sports brands across the US. Knight wrote a paper before the inception of Nike called “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” After that Knight went on to create the company Blue Ribbon Sports, which we now know today as Nike Inc. Hard work, luck and determination were not the only forces that turned Nike into a world leading manufacturer of sportswear but also a superb and unique marketing strategy, one that encouraged people to think differently about athletic footwear and oozed the “Just Do It” mentality.

 

Nike has been a brand that always challenges the boundaries of sport, sportswear and athletic principles. So much so that today Nike is worn and bought by billions of people around the world who aren’t even interested in sports. They decided early on that their products would be constantly redesigned and reimagined with their customers in mind, pushing the traditional running shoes as far as they could using crazy inventions like waffle machines to design the soles. Very soon Nike became less about the shoes and more about fitness. They didn’t want to sell you a shoe but instead a mantra of being fit, active and staying healthy. Their shoes were sold as a way to stay in shape but the fact that they were comfy to run in and more stylish to look at was a bonus. Nike very quickly became the fitness brand selling a way of life, an image, a feeling and a lifestyle – their customers and audience then became the most important thing to the business.

 

So, in the 21st century what is it that Nike offers us that makes them so irresistible? To reach their new, digitally savvy audience, Nike put a lot of attention into their content creation, focusing on their social media channels and video production. Through their brilliant use of advertising Nike offers all generations, gender and races across the world this feeling of empowerment and energy. Their marketing strategy is to empower people through uplifting videos, advertisements that ooze culture, social freedom and restraints, fashion trends, lifestyle trends, opinions, messages and love. They test the limits of our personality by being so in tune with the world and providing their customers with a release, a safe place and the feeling that they are not alone. They now produce regular video content that speaks effortlessly to their customers through strong, moving and engaging storytelling. 

“Walk With Love” – Represent Love

 

Nike BETRUE – Nobody Wins Alone

 

“MILES” Joan Benoit Samuelson

 

For a long time now Nike has slowly started to reduce the production of TV adverts and instead focus on video content for their YouTube channel. Understanding that marketing in the digital age is changing, Nike decided that the quickest and most effective way to reach their audiences and customers with detailed, meaningful and relevant content was through online video. They dropped their TV and print advertising spend by 40% between 2010 and 2012 – but increased their overall marketing budget to $2.4 billion in 2012 (Fortune). This marketing strategy in itself shows that Nike as a brand that follows the people, listens to trends and adapts instantly to the changes in culture. TV advertising spend dropped substantially in the last few years because traditional TV viewing has also massively declined. Instead, video streaming and viewing has become a lot more selective, personal and intimate, and because of online streaming it has become hugely accessible and people prefer to binge watch shows at their leisure. YouTube is the second most used site after google (Alexa) and users view more than 1 billion hours of videos each day (YouTube).

 

Nike speak to their audiences on their terms. They provide customers with personalisation, the ability to design their own shoes, content to watch that reflects their attitudes, opinions and lifestyles, not to mention the endless creation of new styles, clothes and shoes that constantly hit our high streets and allow its customers to always feel original and stay excited and passionate about Nike. What is their marketing strategy? It’s to give the people what they want with the utmost time, attention to detail and uncompromising quality whether that’s clothes, experiences or content. 

If your food or drink brand doesn’t have a great personality, you’ll leave a very bitter taste with your customers and will struggle to connect with the Millennials and Generation Z consumers of today… 

1600 new food and drink products are brought to market each year in the UK (LSEG). That’s a sh*t ton of choice and this abundance means consumers are incredibly discerning about the brands they buy into. In fact, Millennials are said to be the pickiest generation when it comes to food (NYPost) and yet at the same time the most impulsive buyers, with nearly 1 in 5 Millennials admitting to impulse shopping every day (Finder).

With 90% of Millennials spending time online every single day (Google) it’s never been more important for brands to be sending out the right message and connecting with audiences in the digital space. 

The proliferation of social media means that consumers have endless access to information making them a lot more culturally aware. In the last couple of years people’s attitudes to food and drink has radically changed, particularly in western countries Millennials and Generation Z have totally redefined the FMCG industry. In fact, 25% of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy and another 49% agree that drinking soda is unhealthy (Mintel). And Millennials are far more attracted to personalisation with 77%  of them thinking that it makes a food brand more attractive (Askatest).

They aren’t just concerned with the consumption of food however, with so many Millennials spending a lot more time on social media and having their lives on display, the image and identity of the food they consume is extremely important and acts as an extension of their own personality (Kantarmedia). Now the phrase “How to Cook This” is the most searched on Youtube and on Instagram there are over 3 million posts containing the hashtag #avocado (Onebrandmagic). Incredibly 1 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z’s share images of food and search for food products online everyday (PSL) and according to a study by Maru/Matchbox, 69 percent of millennials take a photo or a video of their food before eating.

Whether you’re a restaurant, smoothie or chocolate bar, your brands identity on-and-offline is extremely important. Your consumers today are going to resonate more with the brands that seem to share their values and lifestyles, represent what they do or want to represent, are building personal connections through relatable and engaging content, and, are providing them with a more individual experience. Brands like Cadbury show us that you don’t need to be an all plant based and organic product to do this, instead you just need to connect with them, show them your brand’s personality, and resonate with them on an emotional level. Cadbury recently decided to change their brand’s personality from being loud and quirky to being a lot more family-led and down-to-earth. This was specifically to “reconnect with consumers” (The Drum), and their recent adverts have been very down-to-earth and relatable to a large UK audience of different age, gender and status.

Cadbury Inventor – Go Madbury UK

Cadbury – Mum’s Birthday

Cadbury – Coast

Creating video content can be one of the most effective ways to showcase your brand’s personality, especially online, and it’s why a lot of food and drink brands decide to create brand films. A brand film gives the audience an instant deep dive into your brand’s personality, background and story, and it gives the audience something to instantly connect and engage with, making your brand a lot more relatable. It will typically be the first thing a customer sees and will help inspire and formulate a positive first impression.

Ugly Drinks exploded onto the UK market last year with this killer brand film which encompasses their personality very well. They’re bold, they’re disruptive and they have a problem with sugar. Here’s a quote from an interview with the Founder of Ugly Drinks “Our fans love to be seen with the cans, they buy our merch from the website and they stick our stickers everywhere!” (Business Advice).

Ugly Drinks – It’s Time for the Ugly Truth

The personality of your brand is going to be what sets you aside from all the other food and drink businesses out there and it is going to be your greatest asset when building loyal customers. That’s why focusing attention on building a brand personality online through platforms like Instagram, your website and Youtube has become so important. They help you to connect with your customers, spread a message and help you to build a loyal following. Once you achieve that loyal tribe it will be a lot easier for your brand to tackle larger demographics. Brands like McDonalds have always been nailing this part of their marketing and are now providing a personality that is relatable to millions of customers. The reason it works so well for them is because they know who their customers are, they know what their customers want to see from them and they know why their customers buy their products.

In this advert by McDonalds “More in Common” we can see the way they connect with multiple demographics based on multiple personalities and this in turn showcases McDonalds as being inclusive, down-to-earth and enjoyable for everyone.

McDonalds – More in Common

Consumers today want to see the brand behind the product, they want to see your personality and they want you to speak to them as an individual. You can read our other blogs to find out how to connect with your customers online and best spread your brand’s personality through video.
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