Business interrupted: Top three tips for marketing during times of unpredictability

Consumer behaviour, the path to purchase, media channels and more are always evolving, but the speed and gravity of change in recent months have felt like drinking out of a fire hose: not a drip, but an explosion. Compounded with supply chain or inventory issues, and businesses are facing a lot of unpredictability in 2022. We’ve gathered our top three tips for successfully marketing even when so many variables are outside your control.

The only thing predictable about the last two years has been the unpredictability. And while you can’t control the uncontrollable, we’ve found that you can get better at managing it. Here are Harbinger’s top three tips for marketing during business interruptions and uncertainty.

  1. Have a plan B…and maybe a plan C and D

    Strategizing for only one launch or program scenario at a time is no longer realistic. At the drop of a hat, a spokesperson could be “cancelled”, a social boycott could take effect, or COVID-related precautions could shut down venues, and suddenly you’re stuck. Be sure to take a nimble approach to your activation strategy that implements channels and content that can be paused, optimized, and refocused efficiently – and with limited impact on your budget and KPIs.

  2. Stay true to what got you here

    It can be tempting to veer left or right when that’s what everyone else is doing, but staying true to your brand may prove more effective in sustaining change long term than altering your course. If your brand or company has never been socially or politically engaged, consider the implications of suddenly taking a position without a long-term strategy. Or maybe you’re thinking about jumping onto a new social channel because that’s what’s trending? Make sure you have the appetite for risk and are willing to embrace the behaviour and engagement expectations of the audience, or your brand could be perceived as out of touch. Test, learn, and consider new opportunities, but don’t lose your north star.

  3. Make lemonade out of lemons

    Consumers are adjusting to the new norm of product shortages, which means less brand loyalty and more openness to brand-switching. Capitalize on this opportunity to capture consumers who are looking for new products and brands to try when shelves are empty by driving awareness before shoppers get in store or online. This may trigger a trial opportunity if their usual, go-to product is out of stock. And while you may not have been their first choice, it’s your chance to impress and maybe even get onto shoppers’ coveted “favourites” list.

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Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.


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