5 Ways to Market During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 20, 2020

We've never experienced anything like this. Therefore, it is reasonable to have a myriad of questions. There is no guidebook to follow, and no time in history to reference—this is uncharted territory. 

What does this pandemic mean for people? Professionals? Businesses? 

Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers. While I don't have a playbook, we can look to other times in history that have been dealt a crisis. 

Though new challenges seem to arise daily, some basic marketing principles can help ensure your company is prepared for the future, and the "new" marketplace. 

Content Still Rules

Content remains an integral part of any marketing strategy, particularly at a time in which people are seeking answers and have more time on their hands to consume a high level of information. Content distribution is particularly important for industries that can provide some much-needed insight and support. 

It's normal for people to have questions, and this is especially true of the legal, medical, business, and government industries during this time. Again, the more support in the way of the information you can provide, the better. But, be mindful not to increase panic, and don't make the content self-serving—as always, provide value first, second, and third! 

Be Cautious 

Are you running a display ad campaign? Make sure you aren't accidentally insensitive. More eyes than ever are on your ads, so it’s important not to advertise insensitive topics beside your content. Be careful about what display ads you are running and where. 

Strike a balance when it comes to your messaging, strategy, and creativity. Don't advertise cleaning products or items that are hard to come by, and stay away from ads that create panic or fear. Avoid talking about the outdoors and the joy of being out and about among crowds of others. 

As the market dynamics continue to change rapidly, it is essential to continuously reassess campaigns. It is vital to make sure that campaigns and creative still make sense and, more importantly, follow guidelines. What may have been a great message a few weeks ago might be inappropriate today. 

On a daily basis, ask yourself whether the creative is appropriate for the moment, and if the ad placement makes sense. You should also keep up to date with any rule changes that might impact your digital advertising. 

Even if you spent months working on a campaign, the right thing might be to scrap it. An improper or ill-timed ad campaign has the potential to do significant damage to your company. 

Review Creative 

When it comes to creating a marketing campaign, there are plenty of factors that influence its success. Your strategy needs to include a game plan that ensures all channels utilized are correct. 

Regardless of the channel, various elements go into successful creative—from tone of voice to graphics and copy. Some brands are known for their slapstick humor; even so, this is not the right time to release funny campaigns. Some elements that might make up your ads include imagery of people shaking hands, hugging, high-fiving, kissing, attending a big social gathering. With social distancing orders in place, these are behaviors you don't want to encourage. 

Do you have an ad that showcases a family laughing outdoors? That would have worked a few months ago, but now it could potentially cause pangs of sadness, as customers long for a return to normal. Releasing creative pieces without vetting them can lead to a company being labeled as insensitive and only focused on their bottom line.

When evaluating creative do so in light of the seriousness of COVID-19, and don't hesitate to scrap an inappropriate campaign or campaign elements. Neglecting to do so may cost you significant revenue in a time in which few companies can afford to lose any. 

Bigger Picture 

During times such as these, we must come together as a community, both locally and nationally. In this case, even at the global level. We are all in this together. As a business owner, you should be asking yourself: "How can I help?"

What opportunities does your business have to aid others; either locally, nationally, or globally? Even if a small gesture, it is one that will could have a significant impact during a time in which so many are looking for guidance and help.

Responsible capitalism is the right thing to practice. In recent times, companies who've been quick to offer help are increasingly rewarded by clients. But be genuine; false generosity will be easy to spot.

Businesses should rely on their unique capabilities in order to meet society's immediate needs. Can your company switch to producing hand sanitizer in its perfume factory? Then do it! Do you use masks and have plenty on hand? Donate them! Are you a communications firm? Help your local government distribute life saving messages faster and more effectively. If you are a therapist, this would be a great time to offer free online sessions for those who are suffering emotionally from the lockdown.

Even just turning to local businesses for the goods and services you generally buy from national vendors will be extremely helpful. 

We encourage all businesses—small, medium, and large—to do what they can. 

Operating the Unknown 

Unless you have a functional crystal ball, no one can correctly predict what the future will look like, even if there are some pretty good guesses. What we can say for certain is this is a time of constant evaluation and changes. 

Our number one recommendation is to lead with what is going to help customers the most. Throw your resources behind what makes the most sense for your customers today—not what they were interested in yesterday. Make things as convenient as possible for them and demonstrate how you can help simplify their lives. 

The future will undoubtedly bring change, but for the moment, it is critical to focus on what is happening right now. 

We hope that you will seriously consider implementing some of these tips as the world moves slowly back to normal. Stay safe, healthy, and responsible!

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