🇺🇦 It feels strange writing a marketing newsletter with everything going on in the world right now…there’s a war happening. People dying. People suffering. People’s world being turned upside. Who cares about marketing in a time like this? The real answer is – nobody. Nobody cares about marketing. Only marketers care about marketing, even in the best of times. But people do care about the things they care about. They care about their own lives and the ‘jobs’ they need done. So, the world keeps spinning, the economy keeps ticking, and people keep buying the products, services, and brands they need and want. There is still a role for marketing in times of crisis, but it’s a helluva lot trickier and riskier to navigate.
It’s tough as a marketer (and human being) to know the right way forward in times like these. Do you pause all your advertising? Do you come out with a statement of support? If you do, will people appreciate that or think you’re taking advantage? And if your brand has business that’s tied to the crisis, do you stop sales and operations? There’s consumers and public perception, but what about the people working for you who will be affected? It’s complicated…
But also, it’s pretty simple. Because challenger marketing has a clear, consistent North Star. And that North Star is value.
Modern marketing that works and modern brands that win are the ones that add value to the audience they’re trying to reach. They understand what their audience cares about and they do (don’t just say) things that bring them value. They do this through content and experiences, but also in any and all ways they can. New product development, partnerships, public commitments, etc. What they do and how they do it doesn’t matter as much as why they do it – they do it to add value.
The value you can add as a brand in times of crisis might be harder to identify. But all value-add marketing, when done well, flows inside-out from the values of the company. Start there and work backwards. Do you make a statement (maybe better than nothing (emphasis on maybe), but actions speak louder than words)? Do you make a commitment (ok, but that’s talk now of action later)? Or do you actually DO something (yes, but easier said than done)?
The answer is on you to figure out, but the question is (and always will be): how can you add value as a brand? Take a step back, look at all your marketing activity and investments right now (owned, paid, and earned) and make sure they are focused on adding value. If you’re doing that, you’ll limit the risk and more importantly and hopefully, you’ll find a way to contribute something that makes a difference to positive change. Your customers, and your employees, will respect and reward you for that.
A few links to further reading on this topic you might find helpful…
Brands reactions to the war in Ukraine:
Crisis comms 101:
Thanks to Brandon for the prompt on this topic this week.