Investing in communication & marketing in times of crisis leads to increased market share

Digital Strategy Advies
B2B, B2C
Communicatie in crisistijd

About a week ago, our federal government announced the first harsh measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In the article we published at the time, we gave some initial ideas and tips on how to respond to this. Not much later, however, the measures were tightened up and all shops that do not sell vital foods have now closed down. So it's time to re-examine the situation and see what effect the crisis is currently having on your digital communication. We are happy to share a few tips, look at the current figures, learn from history and let some wise and experienced professionals have their say.

Invest fully in communication

Klaus Lommatzsch (Founding Partner, Duval Union) was active as CEO of the advertising agency Duval Guillaume during the 2008-2009 crisis. Even then, the economy experienced a particularly severe dip. The financial crisis hit hard and lasted much longer than this one is likely to last. "Most customers reduced their advertising investments heavily, usually under pressure from a foreign decisionmaking centre. However, a few customers, mostly Belgian companies that were able to decide on their own spending, just stepped up their efforts. As a result, their 'share of voice', the share of advertising spending, increased significantly,due to the combination of an environment with fewer advertisers and smaller advertising budgets with a larger budget of their own. After the crisis, these were the big winners as their higher share of voice had directly translated into a larger market share. Or how courageous independent Belgian companies improved their position considerably by going against the trend. Every crisis offers opportunities. 

Fons Van Dyck (Managing Director, Think BBDO) also described it as follows earlier this week: "Contrary to what is often believed (and done), it is economically responsible to continue to invest in marketing and advertising in times of recession. The effect will be even greater than in normal times. After all, consumers adjust their buying behaviour during a recession and those who remain absent risk falling out of the proverbial shopping basket. A crisis is a moment of truth for any relationship between a brand and its customers".

Keep building the relationship with your target group

Whatever your first reflex might be, the most important message we want to give you is: keep the communication with your customers and the general public warm. Communication forms the basis of the relationship you have been building with them for so long. If you just shut everything down until things get better, you won’t get far in the long run. It's more important than ever to stay top of mind with your target group, so that they quickly return to your brand, even after the crisis.

So show in every possible way that you are there for them, regardless of the situation, and look for a solution together with them. It's the perfect opportunity to gain the trust of your consumers. Join them in the fight against the invisible enemy.

Do you still have doubts about whether you should just step up the campaigns or continue them on a lower level? This time, don't let your gut feeling guide you, but dive into the data. What evolutions do you see? Where are the opportunities? Does it turn out that you have to steer communication in the other direction? Then at least provide an always-on layer, with an adapted message, or focus on the inspiration phase.

Fully focus on the inspiration phase

Never before has so much time been spent online. That is why it is useful to invest in the inspiration phase (see). Because although a lot of people have been looking for ways to combine working from home with family and children over the past week, the next few days and weeks will be boring and they will turn to the internet for some entertainment.

  • Find out what content you can share from your website so you can inspire your target group and stay top of mind during this period. Now more than ever, people are taking the time to compare products and services online. Support them in this online search and make sure they can easily find their way back to you afterwards.
  • Make work of new content. Organize a brainstorm with your team and look at your product and service from a different point of view. Undoubtedly you will come up with a lot of new ideas together and easily publish some new blog articles.
  • Are your products or services currently unavailable? By communicating and building audiences now, you can reactivate them as soon as the economy starts to recover. Think of it as an indispensable investment in the medium term.


Avoid communicative pitfalls and think ahead

Do you currently have online campaigns running? Then it is wise to screen your current communication and adapt it where necessary.

  • Make sure you don't communicate anything about things like 'Open on Sunday', 'Come to the shop now' or 'Open Door Weekend'. But maybe you've come up with a creative way to keep that first contact going? If so, be sure to put it in the spotlight!
  • Is your shop closed? Then provide clear communication on your website & social media. This is the place par excellence where people are now looking for the right information.
  • Do you have a webshop? Put it in the spotlight in all communication channels. Many providers are currently drastically reducing their shipping costs or even leaving them out altogether. So don't miss out on the potential online turnover and try to find out what's possible!
  • Stay positive and think ahead. Everyone is currently in the same boat and trying to do what is possible. Communicate honestly and sincerely, but focus on the future.
  • Also keep a close eye on what feedback customers have and work constructively with this. Are there any questions or remarks about e.g. delivery times or safety? Make sure you also process this information on your own website, e.g. on the specific product pages or on the homepage.

Keep and get ready for the future

Are your campaigns and communication up and running again and will there be some time available? Then think about how you are going to rebuild your communication once the storm has passed. Make sure that your company is ready to go full steam ahead with (new) communication after the end of the crisis. Or think about the tasks that have been on your to-do list for a bit longer and use the time available to put time into this:

  • Updating/upgrading your marketing plan
  • Screening and auditing your channels, website, accounts ...
  • Adjusting web texts (tip: don't forget SEO!)
  • Organize an online brainstorm with your team
  • Preparing new creatives for your campaigns
  • Create a new project flow
  • SEO check of your website
  • Unsubscribing cases
  • GDPR & Cookies

What do we learn from our campaigns so far?

Right now, we are monitoring our campaigns more closely than ever. In particular, we are seeing the prices of Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Mille/Duizend (CPM) go down as competitive pressure decreases, which in turn has a positive effect on ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

We currently see a very logical increase in sales in the online pharmaceutical sector. Already at the start of the crisis, they had to deal with a doubling of the number of online purchases. Distribution centres and suppliers are doing everything in their power to ensure that shipments run smoothly.

In the home & garden sector we are currently seeing a particularly large increase in online sales that is even close to Black Friday results. Makes sense of course, because when you spend more time at home, you also want to make it a cosy place. Or maybe you just have time for that one little home project that has been postponed for so long. Companies in this sector are currently massively lowering their shipping costs or even shipping for free.

The electronics sector can do golden business for products for home use such as freezers and materials for teleworking. Just think of keyboards, computer screens, headsets ... These days, they fly out the door and it is a logistical challenge to get everything shipped and delivered on time. For FMCG & Food, too, things have gained momentum over the past few days, with some companies seeing their online turnover double compared to last year.

When we look at fashion, things don't go so well, but sales keep coming in, so the campaigns continue. And the travel sector is currently taking a hard blow. As soon as the tide turns, they will of course be ready for a revival of the travel sector. At the moment, they can already respond to the situation by, for example, offering a 'Book now, travel later, enjoy a discount' formula.

Can't see the wood for the trees anymore? We like to think along with you! Give us a call via or via the website!

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