Association Connect

5 Tips to Maintain Advertisers During COVID-19

By Craig Lauer | April 19, 2020

1. Urge advertisers to resist the impulse to pull ads

While you want to be understanding of an advertiser’s impulse to cancel in light of the current situation, it’s wise and fair to counter that impulse with a few initial tactics. Remind them that “when times are good, you should advertise, and when times are bad. you must advertise.” They may be under the impression that everyone is canceling, so give an honest account of your advertisers who are maintaining their schedules. If they see others pushing forward, it may alter their decision. 

If they do decide to pull, work to provide advertising credit rather than a cancellation to maintain revenue in the current budget cycle. If their decision to pull is based on a cancelled event or perception that print advertising is landing in empty offices, emphasize the current spike in online traffic, and:

  • Illustrate the impact of your publication’s digital edition 
  • Work to move them into a digital platform
  • Work to redirect budget marked for event exhibit and sponsorship into advertising with a message centered on the expanded reach potential

If they must cancel due to pulled budget, handle the situation with understanding and let them know that you will follow up with a proposal to establish visibility again in the market as soon as it makes sense to do so.

2. Encourage advertisers to adjust their messaging

Reinforce how their audience might perceive them disappearing in the face adversity versus pivoting into messaging that acknowledges the crisis and demonstrates that they’re still present and engaged. Let them know that their audience will likely appreciate it and that it could better position them for recovery.

3. Be sensitive to advertisers’ needs

This is perhaps the most important item on this list. You maintain and build advertiser trust and solid relationships by providing real solutions, and now it’s more important than ever to do so with empathy and a positive eye on the future.  

Listen to your advertiser or prospect. If their actions are based on a fear of appearing callous or a perception that advertising is wasted, then help them recalibrate their messaging and understand the benefits and impact of maintaining a presence in a market where the audience is consuming more content.

4. Offer support through this period

In addition to being sensitive to your contact’s needs, it’s a good idea to practice what you preach in terms of maintaining engagement. Stay in front of your advertisers, sponsors, and prospects with messaging not meant to close a deal but instead to check in. Let them know you understand that things have changed and new challenges have come up, but that you are flexible in the face of adversity and can provide new solutions to meet those challenges.

5. Attract them back after the crisis is over

While remaining proactive and thorough, track your losses and understand the optimal timing to reengage. Have a proposal ready. Use examples of the competition getting back in the game. Above all, be ready to come back—and to help your advertisers come back—stronger than ever.

Want to discuss additional tips? I’m here to help.

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