How to Reach the Consumer Where It Matters During the Pandemic

By  Gina Pomponi, President and COO of Bluewater

Credit card usage is at an all-time high in the US since the pandemic hit late last March.  I’ll be honest, this seemed odd to me when I read it.  You would think more people would be cancelling their credit cards.  Especially since the unemployment rate continues to climb and our economy appears to be on a significant downturn.  The truth remains that consumers actually are using credit cards more often and for more every day purchase likes groceries and personal care items.  That’s the biggest difference from 2019.  During the pandemic, more than half of adults with credit card debt added to their balances, according to a study done by CreditCards.com.  Most Americans aren’t using credits to go on a big vacation (that they can’t really afford) or buy that expense handbag, instead they are using it for the bare necessities.  Not only are consumers using credits cards differently, but they have also become more conscious of reducing their overall debt amount.

Let’s face it, if you need money a credit card is the easiest way to get it.  So of course, everyone wants a credit card but as marketers who do we really want to reach?  Unfortunately, not everyone is credit worthy.  When I see the big credit card companies like Capital One blanking the airwaves with generic credit card offers, I often wonder why their messaging is “come one, come all.”  I know they don’t want everyone (no offense to Samuel L. Jackson, he’s amazing).  They want qualified respondents that are employed and have the ability to pay them back.  So, what should they be doing differently??

Here’s some tips every smart marketer should follow:

  1. Directly Reaching Your Consumer.  Since COVID pandemic hit, many marketers have had to completely re-evaluate their go to market and media strategies.  COVID has changed the way we live and purchase.  Instead of running to the mall for that new pair of pants or dog food,consumers are choosing to buy online via Amazon, Instacart or via the store or direct company website.  This has been a paradigm shift in consumer behavior – and I don’t believe for one second that it will shift back.  Gone are the days of big brands airing “fluffy” brand awareness commercials in primetime on the large networks hoping that the consumer will remember them at the point of purchase.  My point is advertisers need to begin communicating directly to their customers. 

Both the creative and the media need to be positioned well to effectively reach your target.  Your creative content must focus on the benefits to the consumer.  This is much more important than the actual features.  Everyone wants to know “what’s in it for me.”   Once armed with strong creative, it’s your media’s job to not only effectively reach the right audience but to get them to respond.  A savvy media team will design audience segmentation strategy to evaluate the most cost-effective media outlets and channels.

  • Disruptive and Engaging Creative.  Consumers are constantly bombarded with a plethora of advertisements every day on TV, social media channels, email and even when they are checking their mailboxes.  How do we as marketers break through this clutter?  The first step (and perhaps the most important) is grabbing their attention.  At Bluewater, we are experts at creating disruptive and engaging creative through humor, problem solution and other tricks of the trade.  Once you have the consumer’s attention you now can explain why your product/service benefits them and makes their life better.  Finally, you must include an easy way for the consumer to get it directly, whether that be an 800#, URL or text code.
  • The Right Media Mix bought the Right Way.  Advertisers are all looking to make their marketing budget work harder and stretch farther.  They also want to communicate directly with their customers.   Direct Response or DRTV advertising is the answer to their prayers.  DRTV airtime is a fraction of the cost and has NO long-term commitments so the media schedule can be constantly finessed and enhanced making it the most cost-effective way to buy and manage a media budget.
  • Test, Optimize and Test Again Although we are all hoping for a home run right out of the box, it doesn’t always happen.  When planning your media, it is critical to set up a readable test that will provide statistically valid results.  Media results must be closely monitored and optimized.  Test, optimize and test again until you have the optimum creative, offer and media mix to rollout cost effectively. 

Consumers want and need credit cards, but that doesn’t mean that as a credit card company you want them ALL.  Targeting the right audience, with disruptive and engaging creative using cost effective direct response buying disciplines like we do every day at Bluewater is the answer.

Gina Pomponi has three passions – her Aussies, Tango and Brooklyn, fronting her rock band for St. Pete music enthusiasts and positioning Bluewater clients to maximize revenue opportunities. For over 30 years, she has developed strategies and managed successful campaigns across retail, insurance, financial, high ticket lead generation, drive to web, and direct sell. While managing over $100mm in billings at both Mercury Media and Direct Response Media she honed her skills to become one of the savviest media thought-leader’s in the industry.

Gina joined the TV Media department at Bluewater as President and built it to a multi-million-dollar diversified business supporting a constantly growing staff. She’s driven well over 11X in media growth and created Bluewater’s Account Management team to provide direct client support. Her leadership has been instrumental in building the web development division, e-commerce marketplace division and expansion of the analytics team. These teams provide our clients with critical in-depth knowledge on advertising spend versus KPI’s and an ongoing assessment and analysis of the competitive landscape.

Gina’s most recent accolades are Tampa Bay’s Business Woman of the Year for 2018, Stevie Award for Woman of the Year in 2019 in the category of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations and Stevie Award in the Lifetime Achievement category of Business Service Industries.

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