Most of us are still off balance, uncertain about what’s next in a world battling a pandemic. Advertisers are stuck in a triple bind: First, what to do today. Second, what to expect tomorrow. And third, how to plan for what’s next. We have no precedent for this moment. Every day of this pandemic is the first time we’ve ever experienced something like this.

We’ve been thinking about how media sellers might take the reins and partner with advertisers during this time. Here are three suggestions that might be helpful:

  1. Be a partner in the truest sense of the word.

Express empathy. Acknowledge the challenge. Be real about fear, anxiety and uncertainty. This is not a time for business as usual. This is your chance to talk about more than audience and ROI. Offer counsel about what you’re seeing across the industry. Many advertisers and agencies only see their narrow slice, without a view into media specifically. Which platforms are taking advantage of the moment and which ones are being helpful? What are other advertisers doing that makes sense? Who’s got ideas to share? Showing up for your advertisers and agencies as a voice of calm knowledge and empathy is how you build on what you already have.

  1. Don’t stop advertising, pivot.

It can be tempting to support your clients in pulling back on the reins. Their arguments make sense: Nobody is buying anything right now. But we know that this is exactly the right time for advertisers to be showing up for their customers. The important thing is that they’re showing up with the right brand message. Now is not the time to announce a new SUV. Now is the time to announce the factory has been re-tooled to make ventilators. Every advertiser has a message that resonates with their customers right now, from “we’re with you” to “can’t wait to see you again” to “we’re paying for childcare for healthcare workers.” Help them uncover their most resonant story, then help them tell it.

  1. Time for a pit stop and see if you need to change the tires.

When you discuss new planning with clients, it might make sense for marketers and sellers to review their value proposition and go-to-market strategy. Is company x offering the same products and services as competitor y and z? Now is the time to make sure that a company strengthens its points of differentiation and positions themselves for the rebound.

  1. Face uncertainty head on – do more contingency planning.

Who knows what the consumer landscape holds two weeks from now? Two months? Two years? Nobody knows. Which is why it’s so important to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D ready for your advertiser. Analyze possible scenarios and make a plan for each of them for your client. For sure they haven’t been able to think deeply about this detail, and they will appreciate your efforts to bring structure to the uncertainty. The only thing we can do in times of uncertainty is to plan, plan, and plan some more. When the environment presents itself, your clients will be ready to point to a plan and get things rolling immediately. Thanks to you.

While we are continuing our study of advertiser reaction during the coronavirus crisis, we’d like to hear directly from you about what your experience is. Drop us a note and let us know how you’re doing.