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Tackling Unexpected Marketing Situations With Everyday Tools

Marketers have many reasons for getting into advertising. Maybe it’s a fascination with brands or love for creativity. For me, it’s my passion for diving into culture and understanding what motivates people. It doesn’t hurt that my job as a Strategist is incredibly variable and fun. On any given day I could be interviewing men about their relationship with their beards or researching snack food super fans. Even when I worked in the more serious pharmaceutical space, I enjoyed tracking patients' journeys and uncovering their concerns when it came to their health. 

But in the past few months much of the joy that came with my role had been replaced with worry as my coworkers and I grappled with the heavy impact of a global pandemic and sweeping social justice movements. The COVID outbreak in the US, murder of George Floyd, and call for brands to boycott Facebook advertising in protest of the platform’s unjust practices seemed to come in quick succession. Many brands had been (rightly) spotlighted for being disingenuous or not contributing at all to the dialogue, and we were thrust into the high-wire act of guiding our clients towards the right decision (if there was even a “right” decision to make). 

“I did not sign up for this”

This was one of my first thoughts and the thought of several of my coworkers who until this point in their careers had never grappled with anything more serious than a customer complaint. I recognize that this comes from a place of extreme privilege - not only am I in an industry that to me had felt removed from these topics, but I myself had never chosen to actively investigate them as a marketer. After sorting through the flurry of questions and news headlines and finally face to face with these issues, I realized that the work required for “this” was not a far cry from the careful research and planning we’ve always done for our clients. It’s with this realization that we were able to come together and create a plan. 

Where do we go from here? Go back to basics

Understanding that no two brands are alike, AMP created a framework for approaching crises that could be adapted to each of our clients’ needs and values. After quickly pulling any creative that would contradict the tone of the moment (ex: a social post that encouraged consumers to meet up with friends), we leveraged steps and tools that had served us well in the past when faced with a difficult brand problem. 

Take a beat

With marketing moving as quickly as it does, it’s natural to want to respond as quickly as possible to an event. The problem with this is that you may not have all the proper information to react appropriately, or understand whether or not it’s necessary to react at all. Much like reviewing a client brief to confirm what they’re asking of the team, taking a minute to assess the issue at hand and the impulse to get involved helped us understand the most logical way forward. 

Know your brand

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, several brands were called out for quickly responding, despite the fact that their company and product had no connection to social justice and never been vocal about these issues in the past. This dissonance made communications feel disingenuous to consumers. While the messages may have been lighter in the past, the goal of feeling genuine in our communication has always been a high priority. When building a strategy for a campaign or analyzing competitors, we start with our own brand to make sense of their values and where they stand in the category. We looked inward at our own brands to review their values and past history. Once we had a firm grasp of our brands’ histories, voices, and perceptions, it became easy to know how they would react in any given situation. 

Listen to your consumers

Henry Ford once (supposedly) said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is often used in marketing contexts to demonstrate how consumers don't always know the proper solutions for their problems. While this line of thinking often works for communications for laundry detergent or snacks, it should be thrown out the window when it comes to high-stakes situations. A deep understanding of consumers’ needs and motivations is key for any product, but addressing those needs directly was essential in this moment. During the early stages of the COVID outbreak, our grocery clients became essential businesses overnight, with consumers urgently needing information about product availability and store hours. We helped our clients pivot their social channels to provide consumers with the exact information they needed in an otherwise confusing time. 

Observe the cultural climate

Once we took a minute to assess the situation, looked inward at our own brands, and outward at our consumers, it was time to take a step back and look at the given category and culture at large to give context to our work. While we didn’t want to copy our competitors, it was important to understand who was contributing to the conversation and how they were sharing. Category and cultural research is a standard part of the job, but instead of gathering creative examples and trending memes, we were gathering public statements and news alerts. These pieces of information were added to personalized live dashboards that clients could monitor.  

While I most certainly didn’t sign up for the high-stakes events of the past few months (and the inevitable events come November), I take comfort in the familiar and foundational tools I gained in the “before times”, finding ways to adapt and make sense of the (supposed) chaos. This new normal may not be as light, but I’ve been able to find satisfaction in diving into research, solving problems, and finding a way forward.  

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Hey Brands - These Summer Food + Beverage Days Are Popular!

Since January 2019, The AMP Agency SEO team has been tracking the top three most searched queries, as reported by Google Trends, on a daily basis. Over this time, we noticed that national days of celebration have been popular drivers of search behavior. Some of these national days have been dedicated to food or beverages. Because we have been recording and tracking these phrases over the last 2+ years, we’ve gotten a taste of what national days may be popular in the future. For this article, we are focusing on a few food and beverage “holidays” that occur in the summer. Over the last several years, these days have been gaining popularity in search interest. This year, the stars are aligning for these days to reach peak popularity. AMP Agency believes that this type of data (trending search queries) attached to brand-friendly topics (National Celebration Days) can be a powerful tool for our clients and prospects in planning their marketing activities.   Now there are many National Celebration Days during the year. It seems every day is a holiday for something, if you look at the right calendars. The issue is that not all days are as popular as others. Below are three National Days that have captured the imaginations of a large group of the populace and are primed for a cultural explosion this summer.   National Doughnut or Donut Day  This national day is celebrated in the United States and in some other countries on the first Friday of June of each year. Here’s a chart from Google Trends that shows the search interest in this holiday over the last 5 years. AMP Agency pulled data based on Trends’ categorization of this query as a “Celebration”, which compiles data of related queries and displays them in one chart. As you can see, there is a small spike in interest during the month of November. From our research, we learned there is a less popular competing National Doughnut day that occurs on November 5th.  Because of behavioral changes caused by the pandemic, the interest in the June observation of this holiday was not as large as in prior years. AMP believes that this popularity will rebound in 2021 as more people get vaccinated and donut lovers will feel more free to enjoy a treat on June 4th. National Ice Cream Day  National Ice Cream Month is celebrated each year in July, and in the United States, National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July. This chart from Google Trends shows the search interest in the holiday since 2016: This day of celebration has some real clout – it was signed into law back in July of 1984 by President Reagan. Although the search interest waned a bit in July of 2020, July 18th of this year should prove to be a wonderful day of honoring and consuming ice cream!  National Tequila Day  The only fixed date of the bunch, every July 24th is the day that Americans can set aside time to celebrate National Tequila Day. This Google Trends chart conveys the rising popularity of this National celebration day: Many of the websites we reviewed when researching this holiday stated that its origin is unknown. Looking at the all-time Google Trends data, National Tequila Day became a measurable search term in 2007 and gained its first spike of search query activity in July of 2009. With a return to social gatherings this summer, the popularity of this day could see new heights. How Can Brands Prepare There’s a bigger takeaway from this article than just the fact that people have interests in days that celebrate donuts, ice cream, and tequila. Clearly these are not traditional holidays – and the public’s interest in them is fueled by free giveaways and brand promotions. Brands have the ability to capitalize on national days of celebration and it seems like most days in the calendar have been designated already to be a special day set aside to celebrate something. Not all national days of celebration are popular, but they have the potential to be. Brands can own these days with proper planning. With AMP’s Search Listening platform, we’re able to predict what days are gaining interest and can instruct brands on the search terms they are using when seeking information about the special day. This data can be used to create a marketing campaign to reach and engage your target audience. So, work with us and we can set a plan together. Is there a National Day of Celebration that makes sense for your brand? Does your audience know about it already? Is there an opportunity to add to the momentum or do we need to build it up from scratch? Additionally, if your brand is in either the Doughnut/Donut, Ice Cream, or Tequila industry, contact us right away!