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Supply Chain Crisis: Pause Your Ads Budget? Or Let It Run?

According to Business Insider, “the supply-chain crisis is the result of COVID-19 disruptions paired with a boom in demand. Shortages of workers, equipment, and space have only made the issue worse.”

On the same subject, Bloomberg declared, “It’s not just a problem of moving stuff around. The world is still struggling to make enough stuff too.”

And Accenture advised, “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has tested the ingenuity, resilience, and flexibility of supply chain leaders globally, as they have sought to maintain essential operations. The pandemic has also proved to be a real test of corporate values and purpose. Consumers, investors, governments, and communities may ultimately judge companies on how they respond to this period of disruption.”

Your Ads Budget During the Supply Chain Crisis

With all of this in mind, it’s only natural to wonder if, during the supply chain crisis, should you pause your advertising budget? Or let your marketing investments run as you normally would?

A business journalist recently asked about this topic -- advertising during the supply chain crisis, and more specifically if companies should continue advertising products and services during the crisis.

My take:

Advertising is a long-term play. For any company concerned with building a brand with loyal customers, you don't just flip a switch to turn on an ad campaign when you're running behind your sales forecast for the month or quarter. In a digitally-transformed world where so many companies face intense, global hyper-competition, technology-driven disruption, and commoditization, the ads that support your go-to-market strategy should generally be running 24/7/365.

The caveat with all this is that your ad strategy depends greatly on your business model, company size, and target market.

For B2B technology companies that need to attract the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and in the right context, your ad strategy has to support your most important buyer personas and ideal client profile (ICP), at all stages of the buyer's journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Can bold, brazen creative come across as tone-deaf during a crisis? Sometimes. However, there's a much greater risk in completely disabling advertising across the board.

The Long-Term Branding Investment vs. Short-Term Sales Activation

I'm a big fan of the B2B Institute (LinkedIn), which continues to produce some amazingly insightful research on the lack of B2B brand awareness, the need for mental availability, the importance of creativity in B2B -- and why so many companies confuse long-term marketing and branding needs with short-term sales activation.

Completely unrelated to the supply chain crisis or any other crisis, many companies have no idea how to properly measure their digital ad spend and often waste a ton of resources chasing after early-stage vanity metrics, with very low intent (to appease their VC's). 

As third-party cookies disappear (Apple is already on this path/Google is next), there will be some moments of reckoning when all companies will have to think more long-term about content and branding -- which tends to be way more difficult to run attribution reporting on than paid search or paid social advertising driving to an eBook or webinar landing page.



What do you think? Do you see any examples of companies running ads as usual during the supply chain crisis that should rethink their digital marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments.

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