History shows that pulling back or canceling your advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic will cost your company more in the long run than what you think you are saving in the short term. Finding the strength, and the money, to stand firm in the face of economic decline is the challenge. Developing the right message is essential.
When the frequency of your advertising message declines or disappears, so does your mind share, the percentage of the audience that thinks of your business first when they need your category. Falling mind share leads to loss of market share and business failure.
When a consumer has a need or desire for a product or service, a limited number of brand names come to mind. Those brand names have mind share with that consumer primarily through advertising, marketing, or previous experience. How can your company attract that consumer if your brand name doesn’t come to mind? Mind share leads to market share.
Some business categories have suffered more than others due to stay-at-home orders and social-distancing rules. Advertising, when you can’t serve the customer, may seem pointless. But if you understand that mind share leads to market share, you know advertising now reminds the customer that you are here, and you will be here when they need you in the future.
If you can’t serve your customers now, but want to remind them you will be here when they need you in the future requires a change in message.
Air travel is one of the hardest-hit categories. The number of travelers has dropped so much that hundreds of jets sit idly on runways at airports across America. Thousands of flights have canceled. The average passenger load per trip is approximately 12 passengers. Why would any airline need or want to advertise now?
But American Airlines is out with a new advertising message, “You are why we fly.”
The new commercial asks, “Why do we fly?” “We fly because people need to get home, and life-saving equipment needs to get to the lives that need saving. We fly because you’re doing your part to keep the world moving, and we want to do our part too.”
This new commercial represents the first return to brand advertising for the airline since 2016.
Instead of advertising destinations and fares, American’s vice-president of marketing, Janelle Anderson, said the decision to do brand marketing now was to demonstrate the full breadth of American Airlines’ work.
“With all the change and uncertainty happening now, we wanted to reassure our customers that we’re focused on them and the reasons why they fly,” she said. “We also wanted to recognize the important work our team members are doing. They come to work to fly during a pandemic because they are essential to our customers, the American economy, and the world at large.”
The script of the commercial uses two of the most effective techniques for consumer engagement.
The first technique is the use of the word “you.” As I described in my book, The Four Keys to Advertising Success, advertisers have a very short window of opportunity to grab the consumer’s attention. Using the word you is almost like saying, “Hey, you! I want to talk to you.”
The second technique is to describe your “why.” In his book Start With Why author Simon Sinek explains the power of why you do what you do versus what you do can set you apart in a competitive field and grow your market share. Sinek uses Apple as an example of how effective expressing your “why” can be.
Apple wasn’t the first company to make a computer, a music player, a tablet, or a phone. But Apple was the first company to describe the technology in terms of how it could enable you. “Think Different,” Apple said. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently.”
As you wrestle with what your next step should be, keep this in mind. Advertising creates mind share. Mind share leads to market share. You need to be known before you are needed. Don’t advertise what you do, advertise why you do what you do.
Let me know if I can help.
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