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Is It Okay to Market Right Now?

To say we’re living in an unprecedented time is an understatement. Our lives are marked by uncertainty. So are our businesses.

As more people are getting sick from the COVID-19 virus, many marketers feel uncomfortable with a “business as usual” approach. And rightly so. 

But while it makes sense for brands in the hospitality industries to take a marketing pause, there are many reasons why those in AW’s key verticals—financial services, healthcare, and higher education—should continue their marketing efforts.

The fact is, you now have a captive audience. As our communities adopt social distancing, our everyday lives are being put on hold. Kids aren’t going to school. Employees are working remotely. We’re all spending more time at home—in front of our televisions, our laptops and tablets, and our phones. And as much as we want to hear the latest on the novel coronavirus, we also all want (and need) a break from it (even if it’s just for a little while).

Your accountholders, patients and students want to hear from you—they really do. Most brands have already reached out to their constituencies to explain what they’re initially doing in reaction to the crisis. Keeping yours updated, and continuing to show you care, is important. So are finding ways to connect with them that are relevant to what they’re experiencing now, and what they’re looking forward to when life returns to “normal.”

  • Higher Education: Consider creating online events to replace in-person ones, like open houses. Prospective students (and their parents) are simply changing their short-term consumption habits—they’re not exiting the market—and they’re craving the normalcy of returning (and going deeper) into the college search process as they see their academic, extracurricular, and social lives disrupted.   
  • Financial Services: Don’t panic or pause budgets—your customers and members are not going anywhere, and for them, your digital banking platforms are increasingly relevant and valued. Now may be the time to reintroduce those platforms to those who haven’t yet signed up for online or mobile banking—in an educational, helpful, and thoughtful way. For these and other products and services, consider transferring budgets from terrestrial radio and out-of-home to television, video and digital. 
  • Healthcare: Given the pressures and increased demand on your category, online reputation management is more important than ever. Monitor and protect your brand perception by ensuring you share positive reviews and manage ones that are negative. Continue to be a source of information and reassurance that existing and prospective patients can trust.

That said, the first quarter may end on a down note for many. But we as a community (and I’m using the capital C here), will come together and do what needs to be done to get through this health crisis. And when we do, those brands that have stayed the course and continued to market responsibly and strategically will be ahead of those that halted their plans and are left scrambling to make up for lost time.

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