As we dial into yet another Zoom call with clients we really do miss seeing in person, one of the most common questions we hear is a really, really good one. No matter the industry, no matter the project, nearly every discussion comes down to something along the lines of this one idea.
What do people want to hear right now?
That’s always something on the top of our minds for any campaign, but as the United States braces for yet another month of the pandemic, with kids across the country both back to school and back to school on the couch, and with the most divisive election season in generations getting even more intense, adding anything to the minds and conversations of Americans can feel a bit like piling on.
You might have noticed that we didn’t mention the racial edge that has the nation’s collective hackles up, nor the ongoing unemployment crisis that, sooner or later, will give way to a national housing crisis. There is a lot going on, and that isn’t saying enough.
Safety Blanket. When it comes to messaging right now, keep it simple. Most American families want to focus on family, security, and safety. Effective advertising covers these three pillars, though there is plenty of leeway in communicating them to diverse audiences. These ads can be appropriately light-hearted, emotional, and even inspirational. The key is clarity and compassion, not guilt and fear.
Connected, Not Isolated. Millions of Americans are still sticking close to home. With businesses across the country already committed to remote work through the fall and winter and many school districts either opting for remote learning or anticipating that switch later in the year, we’re spending more time at home than ever before. That feeling of monotony and isolation can be a heavy burden, but it’s an opportunity we have to both alleviate and talk about in advertising. We can celebrate the positives of time at home with family, as well as highlighting features of business that make life at home as connected as ever. Create content that encourages or even requires interaction, sharing, and conversations. Live events on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have seen record-breaking interaction with valuable, knowledge audiences that are now becoming communities all their own!
The Future Is Digital and Permanent. Entire industries are moving to online retailing, and that includes small businesses. The days of having in-store inventory and relying on foot traffic as a sole revenue source are over. Instead, invest in a stronger digital footprint now by moving sales and advertising online now and using the next several months as a way to make the transition. Even experiential businesses like restaurants need to include a robust digital presence in marketing and in sales. Gift cards, merchandise, recipe books, virtual cooking classes, and other revenue streams will all help to increase cash flow and change the identity and reach of a business that used to be constricted by floor space and tables.
Online sales are up 31% so far in 2020, even as overall retail sales have continued to slump. While that growth isn’t sustainable, the long-run forecast is clear; if you don’t have a digital presence now, you won’t be around to build one later.