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As we navigate these sensitive and uncertain times it is imperative that we change our mindset around marketing, advertising and selling – or being sold “to”. Human behavior is SHIFTING, and with it, some things become more important – and other things less. 

Our VP | Strategy Director, Stephanie Stabulis shares some valuable PERSPECTIVE for consumers, brands and influencers. . .

 

Stephanie Stabulis, VP | Strategy Director: 

TO CONSUMERS:

While it’s of concern – and frankly humorous – that brands will try to “exploit” the virus for financial gain (I’ve seen the memes), try not to have this mindset. 

During this time, there are many great products out there designed to help you be and stay healthy – take them seriously. Think of this as a prime time to be DISCOVERING new things beyond just how to wash your hands properly. There are products and services that have been circulating for some time now that improve health, wellness immunity, entertainment, and overall quality of life. 

There are ideas out there for things you can be doing if you choose to take a break from being on the go. As an agency, guiding both influencers and brands at this time, we are forcing the creation of content that is ultimately designed to improve your quality of life amid different circumstances. Whether it be products you can try or things you can do in your spare time, our overarching goal is to market these products or services in a way that shows how they can help you improve, grow, stay entertained, stay healthy and be mindful. 

 

TO BRANDS:

I believe there has been some hesitancy around brands to market during these times for fear of contribution to the media hype of COVID-19 – and rightfully so. However, cold and flu season has been exploited in marketing and advertising from relevant brands each year – the only thing different about COVID-19 is the scale and attention being placed by both media and audiences because – unlike flu – there is no vaccine. As this progresses worldwide, what we are seeing is a reality that we must accept, though it is not a dark one. 

Human behavior is SHIFTING at a larger scale than your typical cold and flu season due to precaution and government intervention. There is a call to action for people to focus on health, wellness, immunity, and to shift the capabilities for entertainment to in-home. There are thousands if not millions of products out there that are going to improve the quality of life for consumers during this time your business is affected – are there things you can do during this time to adapt to new behavior? Can restaurants offer free delivery or a new system that would more appropriately keep people at a distance? Can you take a gathering that was supposed to be offline, online? 

Ultimately, we also expect social media and online media usage to be higher as people are ordered to work from home, cancel plans, and keep tabs on friends, family, and the news. Your content will still be seen, some content is an appreciated distraction, and other content can be extremely valuable. Over the past few days, I have seen relevant businesses take part in the conversation by crafting, non-fear inducing ways to address new concerns created by shifting human behavior. 

For example, I’ve seen grocery stores showing hacks for how to freeze produce or herbs and re-use them for cooking. I’ve seen influencers sharing some home improvement ideas they can execute on during some forced time indoors. 

I believe that there is not only an opportunity but a responsibility for us to be engaging in value-driven, human-based recommendations with the goal of life improvement. There are ways that we can do this craftily without adding to panic or hysteria.

 

TO INFLUENCERS:

We have seen influencers a bit hesitant about whether or not it’s appropriate to be marketing so blatantly with #ad – fearing exploitation or contribution and fear-mongering. However, this is a time that is going to separate “TRUE” influencers from basic product models. 

If you are a TRUE influencer, then you are sharing authentic, VALUE-able information for your audience. This includes habits, ideas, products that you have tried and used that have improved your situation during this time. 

Do not be afraid to share so long as you are confident that what you are producing is going to HELP someone. Be mindful that, if sponsored, you create the right kind of contexts to walk that delicate line between exploitation and actual value. I urge that this is a time of discovery and trial in many senses for influencers and consumers alike – we are all in the same boat.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Finally, keep in mind that our goals ultimately – as brands, influencers, and consumers – is to stay calm, entertained, and healthy no matter the constraints that this virus puts on us. I have and continue to preach that there is so much power to make a positive impact using social networking for brands and influencers – this is one of those times where the circumstance is calling for it. 

It’s a time to use digital methods to produce content and promote things that are designed to HELP change lives no matter how small or temporary those changes may be.