“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Or do they? And in marketing and advertising, this adage has never held more gravity than today. However, what seems right is many times wrong. Why?

During these cycles/times, the brands that endure are ones that have a strong, integrated narrative. Consumers are and will be distracted. Simplicity and clarity are going to be essential and comforting, as we push through these times and beyond. These are the tenants of a strong brand even when times are prosperous too, and the reason marketers need to embrace not only establishing a clear story but making sure all interactions with consumers maintain the consistency of that story.

In the current climate with the Coronavirus, an impending economic catastrophe, nerves are on edge. What marketers should be thinking about today is how we can use this time wisely to support our client base, to offer real value to our consumers, to continue to build strong bonds with our employees, and to promote the value that we deliver without being so self-serving. This comes down to crafting a strong narrative and have a team well versed in storytelling.

Having lived through cycles. When I was in college, we had the great crash of 87. When I first entered the business world, we had the dot-com boom and bust. When we started a financial media company, we had the recession of 2008, and now building INTEG:Advisors, we have the Coronavirus and what is probably one of the most economically challenging times of our lives.

Through all of this some sage advice has always rung true with me; Charlie Mangano, who was the CMO of Merril Lynch through a tumultuous period, taught me several things: he taught me that the most notable clients that you have to market to are your employees, the second most important are your consumers or clients. Charlie talked a lot about integration and a cohesive story. This idea has stayed with me throughout my career. He also spoke about the need to stay the course. Companies that stayed the course through economic downturns and through tumultuous periods, the ones that stayed top of mind, would ultimately be the winners. These were the companies that could inspire consumers in dark times. These were the companies that could tell a compelling narrative, a truthful narrative the consumers could really put their minds around and store away for times when the markets turned, and global and economic situations got better.

I reached out to Charlie, who is now a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder and he added; “You need to make short term adjustments while the crisis is ongoing, but don’t lose sight of where you want to go when things settle down, and they will settle down.”

So for companies both big and small, these are going to be very trying times. At least for the next six months. However, this provides time to establish and/or reinforce your messaging. We are in a time when brands need to leverage their owned channels like LinkedIn and other social media outlets to communicate with their audiences.

And these are times when you need a compelling narrative, a consistent story that can grow with your business as we re-emerge into a global economy and market that is positive for business.

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-James T. Kirk



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