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COVID-19 & Your Marketing Message – CBC’s Outlook

As we all work through the changing landscape of COVID-19, CBC has been writing a lot of copy we’ve never had to write before in our 37 years as an agency. In looking across what we’re doing with our various clients, we believe some patterns are emerging that may help us all navigate the next few weeks/months as we go thru this unprecedented time together.

This is all subject to change based on the realities of an ever-changing situation. However, currently, CBC is looking at COVID-19 messaging strategy in four phases.

Phase 1 – Informational/reactionary: As of this writing, we’re probably through this phase for the most part.  This was everyone’s shock reaction a couple weeks ago into last week. There may still be some of this that needs to be done but most dealers have already told the buying public what they’re doing to keep them safe; how they’re changing immediate business practices, etc. We believe we’re well on our way out of this phase.

Phase 2 – Positive emotions: – I think this is the phase we’re in currently, as of this writing.  This is where we build positive warm feelings about our dealerships; where we show the public we’re not tone-deaf to the current situation and that we understand what’s going on.  This messaging needs to be sensitive and not hard-selling.  Think: “We’re here, we’re good people and we’ll be here if you need us.”

Phase 3 – Coping with New Realities: This feels like it’s at least a couple of weeks away, perhaps mid to late April or maybe the beginning of May. Perhaps longer. After we’ve established that we’re sensitive to the current environment in Phase 2, at some point it will be appropriate to “get back to business” with an eye to the still-present crisis.  The messaging in Phase 3 addresses the current crisis but leaves room for a call to action.  Its not the “All Out – Sell Out”…but we can put some offers back in our message, begin to actively encourage people to buy now again and of course reassure them that its OK to buy a car again / can be done safely.

Phase 4 – Recapture Normalcy: This phase is likely further out. It’s hard to say how long, perhaps the end of summer / early fall. Maybe longer. Time will tell. But once we’ve overcome the worst, or perhaps just start to see a decline in cases and a loosening of social distancing restrictions, we can ramp up the urgency of messaging.  Sale events might be OK again. “We’re open for business and have we got some deals for you!” might be good direction to take at this time.  The dealers that were active through Phases 2 and 3 will have an advantage when we hit this phase.

However COVID-19 plays out, remember that CBC has weathered other storms over the years, as have your dealerships. Things will get better. And in the meantime, while demand is certainly less than usual, there is still business out there, and in places where everything has been shut down, there will also be pent up demand later.

We will get through this, together.

When the time is right to discuss your dealership or group’s marketing strategy, let’s have a conversation.

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