What Not To Do When Marketing In Troubled Times

what not to do in marketing during troubled times crisis advertising best practices

By any measure you wish to use, these are troubled times, perhaps the most troubling in several generations. The world is reshaping itself at this very moment. The tectonic plates of change are restlessly shifting, leaving our feet with no firm purchase. What predictability there was in business is gone for the time being. We are blindly lurching hither and fro like concussed victims of a sonic boom, desperately looking for something familiar that will help us find our way forward. Despite these troubled times, we still have to do the business of business. We have wares to sell and new customers to find. Many companies are busily writing new chapters in the book of what not to do. 

Those unfortunate businesses are not any different from yours. And many of them will not survive the next wave that crashes against their battered storefronts. The only advantage you have is that you get to see the mistakes they make and can choose a different path. You do not have to join them in the dustbin of history. 

You also don’t get to feel smug or superior. They were also smart, hungry, and energetic. All successful companies stand on the shoulders of giants who came before them. Those giants would tell you the following when it comes to 3 steadfast marketing and advertising best practices: 

1. Don’t Give Up On Traditional Tools 

During times of trouble and uncertainty, people find comfort in the traditional. They turn on the TV to watch the news unfold. They look out of the window to reassure themselves that their piece of the world is still there. During such times, human connections trump cyber-connection. Get inspired by the many effective out of home advertising examples all around you such as the following: 

• Billboards 
• Transit media 
• Place-based media 
• Outdoor digital media 
• Street furniture 

You cannot walk down the street - any street - without one of these being in your line of sight all the time. The beauty is that you are not even consciously aware of it most of the time. Even better, you don’t need to be consciously aware of the marketing all around you for it to be extremely effective. You are also not consciously aware of the blue sky overhead most of the time. Yet it has a profound effect on your mood and activities. 

It is good that you are willing to embrace new things. Just don’t jettison the traditional things that tend to do very well when people go into crisis mode. 

2. Don’t Spam 

Your desperation is not justification for spamming every email you have managed to collect. Before you opt for any form of email marketing, you need to learn the difference between spam and legitimate marketing

Get it wrong and you will be severely punished. Now hear this: Sending spam email is illegal in the United States. Getting caught violating spam laws can trigger both criminal and civil penalties. 

Not only is it illegal, it could hasten the demise of your business. You might not be able to pay the associated fines. This would be a devastating result if the impetus for spamming was the lack of business you suffered due to the crisis of the moment. 

Moreover, the spam is not going to endear you to potential customers. You have gone from courting to harassing. The most likely outcome is they will train their email filter to automatically junk anything and everything from your company. You will be forgotten to them. If they do happen to think about you, it will not be with favor. 

3. Don’t Peddle Fear 

In a crisis, everyone is already nervous, you will be making a big mistake if you try to cash in on their natural fear. People are more savvy than you think. No one appreciates being targeted for emotional manipulation. At best, fear can only sell temporarily. 

But hope always sells. During times of crisis, people don’t need more fear. They already have plenty. They need hope. They need to feel like the sun will come out again tomorrow. Make that message your marketing centerpiece and you will be in a much better position to survive in the darkest of times. 

Marketing is less about sales and more about messaging. Make it through the troubled times with a message that tradition still persists, integrity is stronger than desperation, and hope overcomes fear. When those are your messages, consumer confidence will reaffirm the axiom: This, too, will pass.

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