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The somewhat murky ethics of advertising during a pandemic and how to do it well
Using paid advertising, such as targeted Facebook ads, Google Ads or remarketing, is basic best practice for businesses…when there isn’t a global pandemic. But what about when there is?
Here’s our take on how to approach paid advertising during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak;
Talk About The Situation. Everyone knows what’s going on and ads that pretend like nothing is happening are tone deaf at best and at the worst, downright offensive. Your customers are in a very unique, stressful and unsettling position right now – as are you. Meet them where they are. You can do this by the way you speak, the approach you take and the kinds of things you offer.
What is the right approach? Yes, you want to keep your business afloat, but people do not want to support anyone that seems to be capitalising off of panic and fear. There is a good way and a bad way to do this.
It’s doubtful that anyone other than toilet paper companies will be making a big profit over this period, so being at peace with not making the same revenue you thought you would is step one. Next is thinking big picture – how do you want your customers or potential customers to think and feel about your brand, service or product? I’ll tell you – you want them to know that you care and that you’re switched on and reasonable.
To do this you need to think seriously about what you’re able to GIVE right now instead of just what you want to get. If you can offer free advice or a reduced cost service then people will register your brand as ethical, flexible and socially aware.
Take an approach of compassion, empathy and service and you’ll be operating on the right side of this pandemic. To be honest, that’s not bad advice in general.
What ads are working right now?
Messages of hope, community, support, common sense safety PSA’s and positivity. Just look at what’s doing well on Instagram and you’ll get the picture – videos of people running free gym classes on roof tops for apartment dwellers to join from their decks. That great match image where one match has pulled away and stopped the fire lighting all the others.
Free things can work as a form of service to others – this also helps align your brand with your values which is always a good idea.
People still need things, they still want to shop – just think carefully about what they actually need and prioritise that over anything non-essential or off-colour. If you’re in a luxury industry, consider taking the perspective of comfort over need or want.
Virtual meetings or conversations – Drift chat, webinars, Google Hangouts – pivot but keep your offerings available.
Lots of people may need new employment at this time, offering work opportunities or making listings available could be heading towards a boom.
Anything you can or are doing for your local community should be shared.
Any measures you’re taking to help stop the spread of the virus are worth talking about so your customers know how responsible you’re being – consider emailing them or posting about this if you haven’t already.
Something to look forward to like future in-person events could be suggested, or you could crowdsource what people miss most and help future-plan those very things. #hope.
What ads are not working right now:
Anything to do with vanity.
In-person events or event related items.
Travel – unless it’s in the future but probably way too soon to safely predict when or what that might be like.
Anything too expensive, houses, cars etc.
Anything that’s aggressively selling something – people are delicate, treat them carefully and with respect.
So, should I advertise during a crisis? Advertising isn’t the best description of what you should be doing – keeping the home fires burning so people know you’re there is what you’re aiming for. Keeping present and in touch with your customers and even sharing what you can with new ones is all appropriate right now. Even if you find people are buying less, keeping front of mind will help ensure that, when they feel safe again, they’ll remember your brand and return to your service or offering.
3 Tips that could help keep your business afloat during these tough times
The world has turned upside down and moved inwards. Coronavirus or Covid-19 and its uncertain trajectory have had an effect on everyone. It’s scary, it’s anxiety inducing and it’s a real threat to small and big businesses alike – but mainly small ones.
So, with that in mind, we thought we’d share some hopefully helpful tips designed to reframe the situation from an online business perspective.
Go Where All The (Isolated) Eyeballs Are…
With so many people being isolated there will be a huge surge of internet usage. If you’re not running any digital advertising, you should consider starting. However, be mindful of the current climate. People don’t want to be advertised to without consideration of what they’re going through. We’ll share more tips on this in our article covering what kinds of ads are appropriate but for now, just remember to place your ads in the current context, don’t ignore it and push a sell, sell, sell message. That will not help your business, or anyone else for that matter. Be considerate. Be relevant. But don’t be afraid to continue getting your message across if you have a service or product people need or could benefit from.
Hold Space (figuratively, don’t actually touch anyone)
Whilst some industries are being hit hard by the current restrictions because they’re unfortunate vectors in the virus’ ability to travel – others can safely keep trading. Even if you’re amongst the more fortunate (read: not in the travel industry) you might find that panic hits your competition and they decide to reduce their online advertising budget. Now could be a good time to boost yours. Competition for certain keywords or targeted audiences is what drives up the cost of advertising, so whilst we all need to be mindful of what we spend, you might discover that currently your advertising budget goes a long way in the digital space and might help keep revenue up over this period.
Whilst We All Have To Be Apart, Technology Brings Us Together
Do you usually rely on meetings or customer interaction to make a sale? You could consider adding a Live Chat feature to your online store, website or consultancy – this way people can ask all the questions they need to seal the deal, without putting themselves, or you, at risk.
ROCKETSHP stand at the ready to help you make the most of your online opportunities – drop us a line if you want some support (digital, not medical).
Also, we’re keen to hear how the pandemic has affected your online presence. We’d be grateful if you wanted to share your story with us as it would help us build a bigger picture of how everyone is getting on online. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.