Thought Leadership

Update Your Communication Playbook for the Pandemic

June 9, 2020
Author: David Keen
Update Your Communication Playbook for the Pandemic

As social distancing endures and more and more of us are remain working from home, the US is continuing to consume more media. A Global Web Index survey found this is true for a whopping 80%+ of consumers! That means that now is an important time to be communicating. But, what should you be saying? What is the right message, right now? The wrong message, tone or timing could negatively impact your brand for years to come while the right one can help build your business and customer loyalty.

Navigating the Shifting Advertising Landscape

We are clearly in extraordinary times and much of the standard brand-building playbook must evolve—but how? We are all being inundated with communication from every company we have a relationship with (and even those we don’t!) sharing their take on responding to COVID-19. Unfortunately, most of this communication rarely does more than state the obvious, and even less make a direct connection with how the brand will make our lives easier or what the company is doing to support employees, government or consumers.

Craft New Creatives to Maximize Impact

There is no formula for great creatives and that has never been truer than during this pandemic. As the needs of consumers continually shift, brands and advertisers must adjust their strategies. Ad interactions need to not only be relevant and useful, but they must be delivered without being burdensome or annoying. For example, a number of brands (e.g., Geico, Charmin, Bud Light) regularly use humor to great effect to engage audiences and deliver the intended messages. While consumers need to laugh more than ever right now, if you get the joke wrong in this environment, it could backfire catastrophically.

Don’t Gut Your Ad and Media Spend

Keeping in mind the creative framework above, it is also important that brands and advertisers not overact and gut their ad and media spend in reaction to the current economic headwinds. Studies from past recessions have demonstrated that brands that stayed the course and continued to spend grew significantly faster than their competitors that stopped or even reduced spending.

Be Strategic with Placement and Targeting

Rather than eliminating spend altogether, it should be directed away from channels your target audience may be avoiding, such as airports, public transit or events. Media dollars and creatives can also be shifted away from places consumers aren’t using as much, such as radio (given a lack of commuting). Ad placements should be reconfigured to better align with where consumers are, which calls for a renewed focus at the home level, targeting where your audience is most engaged. For example, over 40% of Americans admit to watching more news coverage, more TV and broadcast channels and more shows and films on streaming services during the pandemic.

COVID-19 Direct Impact Media Consumption

Test Your Ads and Prove ROI

Advertising isn’t cheap. Even in times of uncertainty, ROI needs to be proven. Cogent Syndicated tracks the impact of ad campaigns on brand metrics for the world’s leading asset management firms. We know that effective advertising is critical in influencing brand perceptions and customer behavior. Our proven method assesses how your advertising is perceived and how well it supports your brand. We call it “Ad Effectiveness.” We also know that effective advertising and media placement are critical elements in influencing brand perceptions and customer behavior. And our data-driven, statistical way of proving how advertising and the associated media buy impacts these key performance indicators is called “Brand Lift.”

If you’re unsure how, what, when or where to advertise for your wealth management brand, we can help. Send us a note and we’ll be happy to help.


Read our case study, Ready for Lift-Off: Attributing Brand Lift to Advertising, to see how Cogent helped one of our clients leverage our Brand Lift offering.

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David Keen
David Keen
Senior Director, Financial Services

Dave is a Senior Director in the Financial Services Division. With over 20 years of supplier side experience, Dave’s specialties include assisting clients with customer satisfaction & loyalty issues, brand equity assessment, marketing communications testing, new product/service development, and market segmentation. Dave has serviced a wide range of client types, including those in the wealth management space, across both qualitative and quantitative engagements. He also brings broad-based expertise in survey methods, study design, and advanced analytics. Dave holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Michigan, a B.A. in Marketing from Michigan State University, and held internships at the Institute for Social Research and the Gallup Organization.