How do you reach consumers and donors during a pandemic?

Representatives of the CMA's Not-for-Profit and Brand Councils recently had a conversation about how brands and not-for-profits can adjust to the pandemic as we think about the rest of 2020.  Here is a summary of our insights:

Plan to change your plans
There is a lot we can't predict about next week, never mind next year. We need to stay in tune with changing conditions and sentiments and anticipate what messaging consumers and donors will want to hear, while being prepared to adjust as needed. Organizations and their partners should agree on ways of creating, approving and adjusting marketing communications quickly. At the moment, the risk of an idea losing its distinctiveness or relevance before it can be executed can be greater than the risks of temporarily suspending our usual processes. There are inspiring examples of teams moving fast, like Dove's Courage is Beautiful, reportedly in market just days after the idea was presented.

Lift people up
We've seen brands' tone evolve from almost universally somber to include hopeful (Tangerine) and even fun (Budweiser, No Frills) messages. Whatever circumstances may lie ahead, we think people will want to feel uplifted. Brands have the power to do that, while at the same time drawing people into their messages.

Share real stories
As we face this very human crisis a human approach feels right, especially for NFP brands that are about helping people. This intimate look at a family welcoming a baby during lockdown from Telus is a beautiful example.

Be authentic
It’s important to stay true to our brand values in everything we do. Maintaining authenticity in how content is produced, how messages are conveyed and who they are delivered by is crucial right now. This video from Canada's Children’s Hospital Foundations, narrated by a child, is a great illustration of authentic content that delivers a powerful message with a clear call to action.

Make it easy for people to help
While there are many who are struggling from the pandemic's economic hit, many others feel very fortunate that they are employed and healthy. They want to give back, whether as individuals or as employers that are still prospering.  Life is especially overwhelming now. Invite people to help with local or other tangible problems that are easy to grasp.  Back to School in September, whatever that looks like, is an example of a specific time when kids will need help. Consider pooling the resources of related causes so people can donate without having to choose one charity over another.

Get a share of voice bump
With some advertisers reducing spend, there's a chance to improve SOV without necessarily increasing budget. The benefits of advertising in a downturn are well documented.

Engage kids and families
People are spending their time at home with media. TV viewing for example is up an average of 11% with much bigger increases in some spaces like news and kids networks.  There's a chance to invite families and kids to get involved with a cause, like Kids Help Phone letters from the pandemic.

Without precedent, the old rules for brands and fundraisers alike are out the window. As we look towards a period of recovery and rejuvenation, we see an opportunity for many organizations to come out of the pandemic with a new lens towards process, content and engagement. Stay tuned!

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