4 Essential To-Do’s for Brands in the Midst of COVID-19

By Upwave March 24, 2020

4 Essential To-Do’s for Brands in the Midst of COVID-19

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise the world over, brands are compelled to adjust to the crisis rapidly. Consumers have turned on a dime and begun changing their habits drastically, forcing many brands to acknowledge and then react on the fly. The question that now arises is how to react strategically and effectively. How exactly should brands change their strategies in this unpredictable environment? Where does a brand even begin? How does a brand mitigate the risk involved with shifting messaging during this crisis?
Leading brands like Nike, Tesla, and Tito’s are adapting in ways that feel genuine to their brands and resonate with their consumers, demonstrating how successful brands can focus messaging on corporate social responsibility to connect with anxious consumers during difficult times.
With economic uncertainty at unprecedented levels, it is crucial for every brand and marketer to make every dollar invested count. We are seeing brands continuing to spend brand ad dollars and seizing the moment. Here are four tips to help you and your client successfully navigate this uncharted environment.

Authentically Connect to Consumer Sentiment

As consumers’ lives have suddenly been upended, it’s more important than ever to communicate and demonstrate genuine empathy to maintain consumer trust. Brands need to let consumers know they are there for them in this time of need and will continue to be there as the world fights its way through this outbreak. Keep a finger on the pulse of consumer sentiment, test various creative executions, and activate the audiences most interested.

“As consumers adjust to a situation they’ve never experienced before, brands have a choice. They can focus on short-term down funnel tactics that may not resonate or worse, be perceived as either insensitive or taking advantage of the crisis. Or brands can choose to offer comfort and assistance in alignment with the brand’s core competency, further strengthening brand equity and long-term loyalty.”

Suzie Kronberger, SVP Marketing and Revenue Operations, Upwave


Pivot to More OTT

As consumers are forced indoors during the crisis, they are ramping up their media consumption to stay informed, pass the time, and find solace. Savvy content creators are following suit, moving their content online. Brands and advertisers need to rethink media plans to reach consumers where they are currently spending the most time–at home using over-the-top (OTT) video services like Hulu.
Video streaming apps, including Roku, are becoming more popular among consumers looking to entertain themselves during shelter-in-place regulations. Nielsen’s analysis also predicts a 60% increase in the amount of content to be consumed.
As brands increase ad spend on OTT, measurement, and optimization of those brand campaigns, using a brand intelligence platform will be key not only in maximizing ROI but also in proactively gaining insights to optimize marketing strategies overall.

Avoid Interruptive and Aggressive Marketing Tactics

There is heightened sensitivity to and risk around aggressive, interruptive outbound tactics characteristic of direct response. Brands risk being perceived as taking advantage of dire straits when offering tone-deaf promos. However, when brands approach consumer connection through the lens of corporate social responsibility messaging at the highest level of the marketing funnel, brands connect, empathize, and foster a sense of community. Deeper connections of this type can result in long-term brand loyalty and ultimately benefits a brand’s equity.

This is a time to invest in brand advertising. Brand advertising in the current scenario is more important than direct response marketing to build long-term relationships, which is vital during economic downturns to help a company perform well during a pandemic and help businesses recover quickly afterward.

Conserve Ad Budgets with Media Optimization

Measuring campaigns based on foot traffic or retail sales is irrelevant in this environment. When running brand campaigns, it’s become even more important than ever to identify which tactics are performing the best or worst in real time to help conserve ad budget and reallocate dollars without waste.

“Our brands are aggressively pulling under-performing partners right now, as they have to account for every dollar. But they can’t do that with foot traffic or retail lift. People are in their homes. To make every dollar count, they are relying on brand lift reads early and often in the campaign.”

Ken Archer, VP Product, Upwave

Optimizing brand campaigns based on real-time analytics allows brands to maximize ROI. Pull back on under-performing channels, tactics, and audiences to drive efficiency by leveraging real-time brand lift analytics and insights.