Last Thursday, Rachel Tipograph (Founder & CEO of MikMak) and Anda Gansca (CEO of Knotch) hosted their second round of their “Marketing Roundtable Series." This week, the panelists spoke more in depth on how brands across verticals have shifted their day to day business in response to COVID-19, and how brands are leaning into their consumer engagement. Leaders from across industries such as Ad Age, Bank of America, Constellation Brands, e.l.f., Goldieblox, JP Morgan, LinkedIn, Monster Energy, and Sanofi shared insights they’ve gleaned over the past weeks. Here’s what they had to say:
“Now is the moment for brands that have leaders who try something new.”
“While some have opted to completely halt their media spend, those who have managed to be nimble and adjust quickly from a creative standpoint, have managed to put out content that actually makes sense,” said one of our hosts.
This is the time for brands to forge meaningful relationships with their consumers. And the context matters. There are now over 500 million families at home, and the US reached over 3 million unemployment filings last month. It is important to be mindful of this reality in the content created. One way our panelists did this was by creating content that spoke to their consumers' new pain points they are experiencing amidst quarantining. Their brand upped their communication with their customers to an almost daily cadence and started offering creative and inclusive activity ideas for them to do as a family.
Another brand leader has started leaning into “innovative ways of making things clearer and accessible to the layperson” by recording informative podcasts with iPhones and getting “scrappy” in generating video content. They noted that with the influx of YouTube searches and demands coming in, people are receptive to imperfections and “we should try not to be perfect” while getting content out there to answer people’s questions. In other words, it’s time to “get creative with your creative.”
“Stay consistent in your brand messaging.”
Yes, it’s important to address the COVID-19 pandemic and offer consumers assurances, but make sure your messaging stays true to your brand and your audience. A sudden shift in messaging that doesn’t fit your brand personality can be jarring and come across as inauthentic. For one panelist who heads marketing for a top fashion & apparel brand, this means communicating to their customer base the ways they are giving clothing back to their local communities and working with local volunteering initiatives.
That kind of messaging wouldn’t have worked for his company’s brand, noted another panelist from a major beverage company, “[Our brand] does a lot of the philanthropic stuff behind the scenes so showing that side in the media right now would come off as inauthentic because it doesn’t go with [our] brand thus far.” Instead, their brand has been assessing their customer’s needs, retailer by retailer, and generating “contextually relevant” messaging that helps them make a personal connection to their products.
Context matters in informing your consumers. The messaging that works for one company may sound tone deaf coming from another.
"Now is the time for us to work together and help each other."
From an eCommerce perspective, the last couple of weeks have been fruitful to some brands -- one brand marketer at a leading alcohol brand shared that their company’s “sales have tripled or quadrupled compared to the Superbowl”. Others are taking a hit. Online apparel, for example, has seen a 13% drop.
This gap in eCommerce success across brands begs the question, what do we as marketers do for each other? Our panelists agree that now is the time for all players in the marketing ecosystem, including brands, agencies and platforms, to band together.
“This is the moment that agencies really thrive in,” said a panelist who works for a leading marketing trade organization. “Helping brands figure out their business problems and figure out what their most urgent challenges are” is one of the core elements of the brand x agency partnership. If anything, COVID-19 has helped bring this to the forefront.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the sea of responsibilities, from making sure your inventory stays on par with escalating customer demand, to constantly revising your marketing plans to keep up with the uncertainty of the next couple of months.
However, none of us are in this alone.
Catch us every Thursday, as MikMak’s Rachel Tipograph and Knotch’s Anda Gansca host their COVID-19 insights webinars. Join our mailing list to stay up to date.