There seems to be two types of advertising in the market right now: either you're pushing out a message about shared pain and togetherness, or you're waiting patiently for all of this to blow over so you can go back to normal.
The concept of "the new normal" has been discussed at length and I won't rehash it here; suffice to say, with no ending for the COVID crisis in sight, it's incumbent on businesses who want to survive this period to adapt their methods and find new ways to attract customers and complete their transactions.
Michelle Baltazar, the executive director of media for the Rainmaker Group (the parent company of Industry Moves), looks after various publications including the B2B Financial Standard and B2C Money Magazine.
She says, in order to survive the new operating conditions and set themselves up for future success, businesses need to start adapting how they market now. One way to do that, she says, is to focus on providing value for your audience.
"The campaigns that work are the ones that really nail what the consumers want but also what financial advisers and superannuation fund trustees need."
It's not necessarily about selling something, it's about engaging in a relationship that will, ideally, pay dividends in the not-too-distant future.
Is this a good time to market?
Derani Brewis, managing director for DB Funds Advisory, says that it's neither a good time nor a bad time to engage in marketing; it all depends on what you're trying to achieve. "It's all about providing a solution to the issues clients are currently facing," she says. "Climate change, for example, has not gone away and I think people are more conscious than ever of the impact mother nature and climate change can have on our daily lives.
"This also extends to our investment lives."
Baltazar is more definite in her belief. "This is when professional advisers need timely information advice the most. It's the time they need astute investment management strategies," says Baltazar.
"I think anyone who has the foresight to think, 'where are we going to be a decade from now?' should be marketing or advertising today because you have a very receptive audience."
How do you connect?
While we may be growing tired of the sombre, "we're all in this together" messaging, Brewis says, "Empathy is still a good way of connecting with your clients and customers, and showing good leadership is even more important when conditions are tough.
"Confidence is contagious," says Baltazar. "If the industry can show confidence that, in the long term, everything turn out well, that's the best message you can send out there right now."
How do you judge success?
In sales and marketing, success used to be easier to measure. A deal was signed, funds were exchanged, and a product was delivered.
In today's world with subscription-based services and long-term arrangements, as well as marketing campaigns with multiple touchpoints, it's a bit more murky.
Still, Baltazar says it ultimately comes down to knowing your audience and providing them with value. "There needs to be a feedback loop across consumers, the media channel, and the advertiser." If there is an imbalance, like the consumer doesn't feel like the messaging is right or the advertiser isn't getting the results they hope for, it's not working for anyone.
Importantly, you can't overpromise or share something you're not able to deliver. "You really have to focus on campaigns that are of the right tone for the market," she says. For an audience for Money Magazine, for example, readers have very specific interests. "They want to talk about security, capital preservation, and wealth building during a time when others are talking about a recession for the next several years."
Anything outside of those areas, she says, is not resonating.