COVID Impact: Buy Now vs. Buy Later



Author —Auteur — Michelle Bell

In the past few days, we have seen stories of brands stepping up, and brands tripping up. Some brands have shut down their ad spends with the belief that:

  1. If you are bricks and mortar, there is no point. People can’t come to buy from you right now. 

  2. It is not tasteful to advertise in the midst of a pandemic. 

We disagree. Let’s talk about why…

Not all advertising is a “buy now” message.

We need to think of advertising as a funnel. At the top of the funnel, you focus on reaching a broader audience and brand storytelling. “Buy now” advertising is at the bottom of the funnel and is reserved for warm prospects. If you are like most organizations, you have likely underspent in brand building, top of the funnel advertising. Now is the time to shift gears. Consumers are a captive audience, and looking for something other than the news. Use this time to invest in great storytelling about your brand. Let people get to know you, form a relationship with you and plan to purchase you.  The purchase may be now, or it may be delayed. But at least they are planning. 

Advertising should always be done in the right context.

That has not changed – but the era of COVID-19 has created a new context. Society is rethinking and realigning its values. There will be backlash and a lack of forgiveness for brands that message anything that counters the increasing public compliance with distancing and prioritization of “essential” items. It is ok to sell hope, future escape and solution to new needs that have emerged. 

Earlier this week I received a flyer from a retail store with incentives for me to come in-store to make a purchase. I was shocked and disappointed. This store, that sells recreation and essential items could have played this differently. They could have used the opportunity to remind me that they are part of my community, that they have items I need now and in the future, and to use their online channel for delivery. Complete fail. Not only did they waste advertising dollars in the short-term, but they have also potentially lost me for good. 

I have also seen advertising that is brilliant – recreation centres offering words of encouragement and access to free online materials, clothing brands that are selling comfort and “stay at home” attire via online channels.

Don’t go dark.

History has proven that the brands that stay present during these times are the ones that emerge stronger.  

So, what now? What should your specific business do?

Good question. Give us a call.  We are helping our community in best way we can right now, and offering free consults to get you started.

Michelle Bell

Chief Marketing Officer

Michelle has over 18 years of experience in marketing and operations. She has worked in traditional brand management for global consumer packaged good brands. In addition, she has worked in marketing and business strategy for the public sector, including Canada 150 for the Royal Canadian Mint.

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