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Meat Marketing During COVID: Don’t Go Dark Now

Danette Amstein

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COVID-19 has created a climate of incredible uncertainty for companies and brands.

Because it’s obviously not a time for “business as usual,” it’s natural to wonder if you should pull back on marketing. You might be thinking: “I don’t want to appear insensitive during a health crisis” or “Maybe I should conserve resources during this economic downturn.”

Here’s my advice:  Don’t do it.

Although none of us has lived through a pandemic, we can draw important marketing lessons from the 2008 recession.

A best practice paper compiled by WARC, as well as other research, shows going dark will not have a significant impact on your short-term results but will have a huge impact on your mid- and long-term returns. In fact, the Kantar Millward Brown database shows that it took brands three to five years to recover to pre-recession levels when they cut their marketing budget in half or went dark for a year.

So, while the data points to the value of continuing to market in a crisis, staying the course must be undertaken carefully and with intention. It is critical to relay the kind of reassuring, relatable messaging your customers (both B2B and B2C) need right now. No one wants to be sold to, but maintaining relationships is key. This is especially true for the meat industry; we learned in the early stages of the pandemic that cooped up people are cooking with lots of meat and retailers are trying to keep up with demand. Marketing and advertising that acknowledge this shows your consumers and your customers that you care about them and understand their challenges.

Right now, communicating in a “real” way really matters.

In a March 18 survey conducted by 4A’s, 43% of consumers said it was reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust, while 40% want to hear what brands are doing in response to the pandemic. Only 15% said they do not want to hear from brands. The numbers speak for themselves:  Don’t make your marketing decisions based on only 15% of the population.

So how quickly can you pivot to reach the 40+% who do want to hear from you?

To help you get started, here’s a list of three action steps you can take right away:

  1. Call a quick Zoom meeting of your marketing, communications and PR teams. The goal is to get everyone on the same page about the tone and types of messages you should be sharing.
  2. Review all planned content including ads running or scheduled to run in the next 30 days. Determine what can stay, what can be revised and what should be dropped.
  3. Rework your social media content calendars to adjust your messaging and implement social listening if you have not done so already. Study what people are talking about and use the data to tweak your content going forward.

About the Author

Danette is a Managing Principal based in our Mooresville office. Together with Michael Uetz, she develops and carries out the strategic direction and vision for Midan. In addition, she works closely with our meat industry clients to outline effective strategies based on their business goals, and then oversees the execution of tactics to ensure those goals are not just met, but surpassed. Danette’s lifelong love for the meat industry started on her family’s farm in Kansas, deepened during her involvement with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and state beef organizations and continues today with her passionate work for our clients. A well-respected thought leader in the meat industry, she speaks at conferences, writes social content postings, and blogs for Meatingplace. Married to Todd, she is a proud parent of a son and daughter, is a diehard Kansas State Wildcats fan, loves chocolate and still drives a combine when she goes home to Kansas for the annual wheat harvest.
Danette Amstein