A new blog post by Pierre Bouvard, the Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media and Westwood One, outlines seven strategies to help advertisers maintain their viability — and protect future sales — amid turbulent economic times.
The coronavirus pandemic that’s brought the U.S. economy to a virtual standstill has proven to be the catalyst for a number of “back to basics” workshops and webinars designed to reinforce best practices during a time of substantial uncertainty.
Among the best practices outlined by Bouvard:
1. Ensure share of voice exceeds share of market: “The relationship between share of voice (share of category spend) and share of market can predict if a brand grows, declines, or remains stable,” Bouvard writes.
Bouvard cites Millward Brown, which says it’s key to keep a high share of voice in uncertain times. “If you increase your marketing investment at a time when competitors are reducing theirs, you should substantially increase the saliency of your brand,” the research firm says. “This could help you establish an advantage that could be maintained for many years.”
2. Continue to advertise: “Economic instability can trigger the impulse to pull advertising,” Bouvard writes. But the logic that reduced spending by consumers would dictate less of a need to advertise misses the mark.
According to the Advertising Research Foundation: “During recessions, companies must understand customers’ shifting needs and then adjust their communications strategies and offerings. Marketers should segment customers according to their recession psychology (from fearful to carefree) and how they categorize their purchases (from essentials to expendables).”
Going dark carries big risks. The post cites a Nielsen ROI study commissioned by Westwood One (for a retailer) that showed the dangers of slashing advertising. “Among those not exposed to AM/FM radio ads,” Bouvard writes, “the retailer saw decreases in the number of buying occasions (-13%), spend per trip (-15%), spend per buyer (-27%), number of buyers (-30%), market share (-42%), and total consumer spend (-50%).”
3. Optimize creative by testing ads for more memorable brand effects: “Creative is critical to the success of ad campaigns,” the post says. “According to a Nielsen Catalina Solutions study of nearly 500 TV, digital, and audio campaigns, creative is the number one sales driver. Combined, creative and reach represent 69% of total sales lift.”
4. Shift more resources to brand building versus sales activation: “Brand building ads are the ‘protein of advertising,’” Bouvard writes. “Of the two types of campaigns (brand building and sales activation), brand building is harder to achieve, requires a greater investment, and is more important.”
5. Place a greater emphasis on emotional campaigns to build your brand more strongly: “Awareness, commitment, trust, differentiation, quality, fame, and image all see stronger performance from emotional campaigns compared to their rational campaign counterparts,” Bouvard writes.
The post says that now is the time to show empathy — and not emphasize deals or sales information.
6. Shift budget to AM/FM radio to grow reach even if total budgets are reduced: Bouvard writes that by using Nielsen Media Impact, it’s possible to prove added incremental reach by shifting a small portion of a budget from TV to AM/FM radio.
“For example, a $7.4 million TV investment for a furnishings retailer generates 52% reach among the target consumer, women 25-54. The same spend with a 20% reallocation to AM/FM radio adds +50% incremental reach to the total campaign.”
7. Focus on, and keep in touch with, the customer, a brand’s biggest asset: Bouvard, again citing Millward Brown, says this is a time to stay focused on the most valuable, loyal and satisfied customers.
“Keep them happy and reward their loyalty,” the post says. “If you contact with customers through monthly billing statements (one piece of mail you can count on people to open), use that vehicle to deliver special offers, relevant news and information.”