Your Unfair Advantage: Marketing During Uncertainty

During times of uncertainty, like the current coronavirus crisis, many businesses are dealing with substantial challenges. Major multinational companies are slashing their marketing budgets: as many as 81% of large advertisers are deferring their advertisements to respond to the current crisis. Many major advertising platforms are losing money due to lowered ad spends by businesses:

Lowered marketing budgets are often driven by uncertainty: businesses cannot predict what market conditions will look like in the near future, and therefore are cutting back ad spending to protect their budgets. While this conservative business approach makes sense, it doesn’t mean it’s the smartest strategy to follow right now.

By bucking the trend and marketing aggressively during this time, however, businesses can increase loyalty and gain mindshare at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible. Consumers still want to make purchases, and those brands that are actively marketing their business in creative ways are the ones capturing the market share right now. 

Increase Mind Share

Mind share is the relative awareness that the public has of your product or your brand. Unaided awareness occurs when customers can bring your brand to mind without prompting; they don't need a prompt to recognize your brand. Aided awareness, on the other hand, happens when consumers can recognize your brand, but only when prompted. For example, if someone is asked to name their favorite fast food restaurant, then if they name “McDonalds” they are showing unaided awareness. If they are shown the McDonald’s logo and are able to recognize that the logo belongs to McDonald’s, they are showing aided awareness.

Unaided awareness has a significant impact on whether customers will consider your brand. Unaided awareness counts for as much as 3/4 of buying intentions. Google found that brand ads increased unaided recognition for Fiat by 127%--a substantial shift in awareness of the product as a whole. When customers are aware of your brand, they're more likely to consider you directly when they get ready to make a purchase in your industry; you've already cornered a portion of their mind share related to your industry. 

The decreased ad spending across many brands could give you the perfect opportunity to raise unaided awareness and increase your mind share. There's less competition on ad platforms, which means fewer bids that could drive up prices. As a result, you can get greater overall results at a lower budget. 

Enter the Consideration Set

The competition will have a harder time competing with your brand if their online presence has disappeared for months. Thanks to that lack of presence, their brand will gradually drop from public awareness, while other brands have the opportunity to rise to the top. 

The consideration set represents the specific set of brands that customers consider before making a purchase. In most cases, these are brands that the customer has heard of before or the ones that they have learned about while doing their research. For brands that aren't advertising during the pandemic, that could mean a lack of presence in customers' consideration sets.

Retargeting can also keep your brand high in public awareness and make sure your brand remains top of mind for customers that may have considered those purchases in the past. Not only that, but brands that advertise will also have greater unaided awareness, which means customers are more likely to start considering them before their research even begins. 

As things go back to normal, customers will start purchasing again. When they do, they will be choosing from their consideration set--and you want your brand to be one of their top choices. 

Increase Loyalty

Your advertising efforts during this time can increase customer loyalty and encourage them to connect with your brand, often on levels that weren't relevant in the past. Consumers will remember the brands that helped them during these times: the ones that offered them information on how to purchase the products or services they want or need right now, partnered with the community, or provided uplifting creative designed to help raise their moods. YouTube uploads are increasing steadily for "uplifting content" throughout this period--and those needs are likely to continue throughout this period. 

The demand for information throughout the coronavirus crisis has not decreased. If anything, consumer needs have increased as customers look for entertainment, connection, and education. 

The nature of that content demand, however, has changed. Customers are looking for specific information, including information about how your business has altered its practices or sales process right now.

They're looking for news and updates. They want uplifting, engaging content that will help them step outside into the world, even temporarily. By producing that content, you can provide the lift that your customers need--and they'll reward that loyalty, both amid the crisis and as it comes to an end. 

When markets improve, competition for consumers' attention will increase significantly. Many brands will be trying to make up for lost time by raising their mind share or improving unaided recognition of their brand. 

To reach the same goals you have already achieved, however, your competitors will have to spend more than you did. Increased advertising will make it harder for competitors' messaging to break through the noise. 

If you continue to advertise throughout this uncertain period, on the other hand, you will have already raised unaided brand recall, making it more likely that your customers will continue to remember you. Your advantage begins as soon as you start planning.

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