Marketing Q&A Part 1 with Flint Group Executive Chair, Roger Reierson
Standard business operating practices have been flipped on-end. As the pandemic emerged in the nation, people set-up office in their homes or adjusted their work styles. As the curve has been adjusted and policy leaders work to focus on curtailing any additional damage to the economy, the efforts of business again shift. One aspect that should not be an afterthought, but may have slipped from a priority, for business decision leaders is current marketing and branding efforts.
Advertising efforts have shifted in various media. TV watchers will see messages focused on public health and safety and messages of appreciation or gratitude for customers or employees. Online ads may serve up different products or promotions. GNDC recently visited with two experts in this industry to get a better idea of what’s currently happening and what can companies do moving forward.
In this two-part Q&A, GNDC visited with Roger Reierson, Flint Group Executive Chairman of the Board. He provides insight and analysis of what business should be aware of for the present, including current trends and potential efforts to protect and plan for their brands.
GNDC: What do people need to know?
Reierson: It is expected that COVID-19 will have a bigger impact on the advertising/PR world than the financial crisis of 2008, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Many (74% of media planners and agency leads) believe it will have an impact through 2021, the agency reports. Further, nearly one in five companies have paused all advertising for the second quarter of this year. The most telling sign of the disruption is that two-thirds have changed their messaging.
What trends are you seeing in the advertising and marketing world?
Kantar Group research showed a big shift to digital as more people are spending time online (up 70%) and certainly more engagement with social media (up over 60%). There has been a shift in TV activity and reading habits of audiences. As a result, we are encouraging more online lead generation including targeted paid digital ads and more organic content on social media platforms. YouTube and Facebook are especially effective platforms right now.
Even though it’s not a good time to promote sales and services – what can companies be doing with their branding efforts?
The team at Flint Group has advised some major pullbacks, some cautionary budgeting, changes in media tactics and a change in messaging. The first step is to understand what impact COVID-19 is having on your product or service and your audiences. How have buying habits changed? How can I react to these changes? Your answers to these questions will help you formulate your plan going forward.
In most cases we do not recommend a complete shut-down, your audience still wants to hear from you, but your message and content might be different. As an industry, we have always been nimble and being ready to act fast is even more important in this environment.
- Stay up to date on audience and industry changes, and react quickly with your messaging.
- Be empathetic to your audience- you can promote your brand and still be sensitive to their worries and concerns.
- Don’t exploit the situation. Taking advantage of your audience during a vulnerable period will make them think less of your brand.
- Be genuine and transparent. Look at ways your brand can be helpful and in support of your audience and then make that part of your message.
- Avoid phrases that are now becoming clichés as brands communicate about COVID-19 – “During this unprecedented time,” “The new normal,” etc.
Reierson has been a long-standing member of GNDC’s Board of Directors. We appreciate his insight and expertise.
Part-two, “Moving Forward,” is a conversation with Brekka Kramer, Odney Vice-President and General Manager of their Minot location. This post will discuss what can be done as businesses move past the initial impacts and plan ahead.