I was participating in an idea exchange with broadcasters from across the US last week when one person shared with us that she had been getting the above objection to advertising now. That's why we should talk with our clients about what MESSAGE they wish to communicate with customers, not what they want to ADVERTISE.
We fully understand that no one wants to be seen as exploiting the current situation. Whether or not our advertisers will be perceived as "that guy" is totally dependent on their messaging. And that's the subject of today's newsletter: What should their messaging be in this situation?
Of course, the actual content of the message will be determined by each client. What information do they need to impart to customers? Almost all businesses have been forced to change hours, to shut down completely or limit customers coming into their stores. Those bits of information should be communicated. But beyond the details their customers need to know to continue to get what items they need, what else should be communicated to customers?
Commercial messages should always be written from the point of view of our customer's customer. This is more important now than ever. Since we are all experiencing this together, WE become a great focus group. What are YOU wanting to hear from merchants right now?
We want to be safe. DDB Needham published an article that stated that during times of economic interruption, consumers are looking for reassurance. Our messages should minimize risk (how many emails have you gotten from businesses talking about their sanitizing measures?)
The article also stated that brand equity is valuable as consumers are seeking security. Many of our local advertisers have brand equity. We must talk to them about continuing to be top- of- mind. *
We are experiencing a sense of community. Neighbors are helping neighbors. How are our local businesses helping? Many are making extraordinary efforts to serve their customers (take out, curbside service, delivery). They are offering special shopping times for seniors and those most at risk. They are rearranging their business models to meet current circumstances.
Our messages should be crafted for our specific clients. As Roy Williams would say, the ads for one business should not be able to be used for another business. They should be that client specific. Especially in smaller markets, the local business people may have been there for years. They live and work in their communities. We can tell their stories. And no two stories are alike.
Our messages should appeal to the emotions. 90% of decisions to buy are made emotionally. If that emotion is fear, customers won't buy. The public is afraid now. Our clients' messages should provide reassurance. They should appeal to the emotions of safety, home, family, familiarity.
We want to be normal. We'd like to roll back the clock two months and go, travel, eat, shop, play, work, where we wish. The kids are back in school. We are back at work. Our messages can harken to normal times and the pent-up demand that will occur when this crisis passes.
This is not the time for hard-hitting sale messages.
Messages that could be construed as taking advantage of this situation will backfire. Messages that build brand, that create bonding with the customers, will win market share. And those clients who continue to speak to customers will gain market share as their competitors go silent. Increased market share will be the key to how quickly and how high their revenues bounce back after this crisis is over.
One of radio's greatest strengths is our ability to change messages very quickly. As this situation changes daily, sometimes hourly, this ability will serve our clients well. Keep in close touch with them!
Be proactive in talking with your clients about their messages. Come up with examples for them. They need our guidance. Together, we can survive and thrive as we pass thought these times.
* Source: "Advertising in Recessionary Times", DDB Needham, Chicago, 1990