Expert Advice On Marketing During COVID-19

It’s been a busy few weeks as we have been gathering advice from a variety of experts to figure out how we, as marketers grapple with the crisis we find ourselves in.  We will continue to provide these while we remain in social distancing.  Here are some of the highlights thus far:


Navigating Your Brand Through COVID-19 and Beyond

To start we wanted to see if there was any guidance on the phases we are going to go through.  Nasser from DAC Group shared with us a Framework of where brand communications should focus based on what we have learned from those countries who have been slightly ahead of us like China and Spain.


He showed how consumers are looking for how brands are helping to reduce risk and anxiety and also for a sense of affiliation and belonging.

He shared great examples of how different companies have been successfully doing this by embracing digital communications, resilient systems and rapid digitization.  He also talked about the importance of keeping hold of your teams and refocusing them for new initiatives and also staying nimble and quick.

Brand Trust During COVID-19

With brands struggling with what to say, we asked Edelman to come in and share the perceptions of the public when it comes to sources of trust during the COVID-19 Crisis.

They shared their findings from their current survey and pointed out that Canadians feel that our country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role.

They showed how brands are adapting by pivoting product development to items such as PPE’s or offering some form of financial assistance.  Additionally, they recommended educating the public and finding ways to connect people to facilitate a sense of community and stay emotionally close.  Keep communicating with your key stakeholders on how you’re helping and be careful that your message isn’t tone-deaf.   One key point the mentioned is that how a brand responds now, could have a long term impact on consumer loyalty down the road.

They suggest 4 key points:

  1. Show up and do your part
  2. Employers need to be trusted
  3. Solve, don’t sell
  4. Communicate with emotion, compassion and facts

How brands do this or the compass they can use is to ensure they remain authentic and that they lean into their purpose and their values.

Understanding the Data-How to Refine The Media Buy During COVID-19 When Consumer Habits Have Shifted

We know that not everyone has the resources in house to do the research on how your customers’ buying habits have changed.  In this webinar, we brought in Vovia to share what they are seeing in terms of where and how consumers are digesting media and how we as marketers might want to adjust our media channels.

They started with the good news that consumers still want to hear from SOME brands and shared some of the studies done so far on consumer perceptions.  Like Edelman, they outlined how traditional media, especially broadcast TV, is currently the largest source on how we are digesting information right now.  They also looked at opportunities for marketers in online video and radio streaming and some creative ways to even adjust out of home creative, such as billboards to better resonate with limited traffic.

With respect to online habits, they showed how areas such as paid search volume have changed dramatically with some growth industries and obviously some declining industries.  Social Media is seeing an increase, but click-through rates here are also seeing a decrease.

Finally, they wrapped up with some recommendations based on low, medium and high budgets on where to focus and what to focus on.

Finding Unique and Purpose-Driven Ways to Connect with Your Customers

Now that the research has been reviewed, we wanted to start looking at the HOW.   To gain some inspiration we asked Dan King from ZGM to share some creative ways different companies are executing and succeeding with their messaging and their brands.  He spoke about how we need to focus more on connection hacking vs old school growth hacking.  In other words, it is extremely important for our brands that we stay connected and relevant to our customer base during this crisis.

Dan talked about the importance of not going dark with your customer base and how we need to lean into our purpose and stay present to stay relevant and not come across tone-deaf.

He suggests we need to find new ways to connect and gives great examples of how companies can experiment with technology and find new safe distribution channels to continue to embrace their community.

One very strong takeaway was his suggestion on where we should be spending our time as marketers and where we should be directing our teams.  Dan feels one of the key focus areas for marketers to help them come out of this crisis stronger and quickly pivot into a new reality is to prioritize their digital channels.  Now is the time to review your CRM, re-work email flows, review your content development and overall content strategy, and redefine your online personas.

So what’s next?

On Tuesday April 21st,  we have John Pieri of ATB joining us to talk about his journey thus far as VP of Marketing for this iconic Alberta brand.  John will share what he has learned through both research and inspiration from other brands as he Steers an Alberta Brand Through COVID-19 and Beyond

We hope these webinars help you find your way through unchartered territory.

We would love to know what are your biggest struggles and what other topics we might look at to keep you informed, enlightened and engaged as part of Calgary’s marketing community.