5 Steps to Marketing During the COVID-19 Scare

Obviously, you don’t need me to tell you about the times we are in.  Further, I am not a health professional and couldn’t speak with any authority on whether the population is over-reacting or under-reacting to the COVID-19 scare.  So, I’m not even going to try.


What I can speak on, however, is marketing; and specifically marketing during uncertain times like we are currently in.  Having gone through September 11, 2001, other health scares, the Great Recession, and every type of economic condition you can think of, I have seen businesses (including my own) face many challenging times that made us ask, “how do I market my business right now”?


So, the other day, I decided to jot down 5 Steps you take to market your business through tough times, regardless of the type of business you have.


  1. Think Before You Talk
  2. Modify Offerings
  3. Create a Temporary Marketing Plan
  4. Keep Your Marketing Simple
  5. Execute, Engage, Track



#1 Think Before You Talk

Your words matter.  With people scared and emotionally on edge, mixed or confusing messages only adds to the anxiety they are feeling.  Be very thoughtful before addressing employees, prospects, and clients.  You want to inform and comfort.  Give them hope and focus on the other side of this scare.  However, don’t ignore their very real and present pain, and be sure you offer any support you can (time off, financial, work location, etc.).


Also, don’t over promise.  Don’t tell your clients you have no production/delivery interruption, if you actually do.  Pretty simple stuff, but more important now than ever.  Honesty and transparency; it will be appreciated and respected.


#2 Modify Offerings

Here’s the bottom line, people are not buying today like they were just last week.  As a business, we have to react and adapt.  Even we are modifying our offerings during this time because first, we want to try and help other businesses get through this time, but secondly and completely honest and transparent, if we do not get revenue during this time, we will be in trouble too (as an example, click here to see how we have modified our offerings).


If you have never offered delivery, maybe it’s time to think about it.  If you have never sold your products online, maybe you should consider an online store.  Look at your pricing, is there anything you can do to cut your margins without killing the business?  Remember, some business is better than no business.


#3 Create a Temporary Marketing Plan

I recommend a Marketing Plan in general.  It keeps you focused and leaning into your strategy, instead of chasing the next big marketing thing (and believe me, there are a ton of “next big marketing things”).  However, during this type of economy, a temporary modified marketing plan is a must.


Today, you should be focusing on the activities that will produce the quickest and most direct results.  Google Ads, Social Media Ads, even YouTube Ads.  Now is the time to create as much content as possible and push it out there.  The costs of these ads are going down and viewership is sky rocketing (as everyone is stuck at home).


You may need to take this time to evaluate your SEO efforts and start correcting some of the errors and inefficiencies of your website (check out our free website auditor).  If your office/store has closed, maybe now is a good time to get interior photography/videography done.


Also, don’t forget to consider the message and avoid being insensitive or seem disconnected from your clients’ struggles.  Everyone is impacted right now, don’t seem like you are trying to avoid – but find a balance, because you also don’t want to come across as fixated on it.


#4 Keep Your Marketing Simple

Now is not the time to produce over the top and out of the box ad campaigns.  We have to be creative in how we deliver marketing right now, but I wouldn’t recommend rolling the dice on a new risky image, brand change, or expensive ad campaign.


Stick to the things that work the best.  As I mentioned before, focus on getting the highest ROI possible, which means keeping your expenses down.  Don’t stop spending on marketing – that is the biggest mistake you can make; but most businesses should probably not increase their spending (depending on your industry – sanitation and germ removal companies are one of the huge exceptions to that rule).  You may consider even reducing your marketing budget.


At the end of the day, you need to continue communicating with your prospects and customers, but for the short-term, that may look different for your business than it did last week.  So, create a marketing plan just for this period of time, and then get back on track when this scare passes.


#5 Execute, Engage, Track

The biggest mistake I see businesses make, is to make a great plan, and then not execute the plan.  Run the numbers, consider the creative, make a decision, and go.  This is not the time to spin your tires.  It’s a small window, you do not want to get to the other side of the crisis and be behind all of your competitors.  That could be more devastating than the scare itself.


While your campaign is running, engage with your audience.  We all have much more time on our hands today, and we will all be longing for connection and engagement as we practice social distancing.  However, we do not need to practice digital distancing!  Email, DM’s, posts, online conversations, etc.  Every way you can engage with your audience, do so.


And then finally, track the results of your campaign.  This step is one of the most missed steps in marketing.  If you don’t know how your campaign is performing, how do you know if you are wasting money or not?  Track the results, analyze the data, and make fact-based strategic decisions.  When discussing marketing strategy, I do not believe intuition has a place at the table.  Strategy must be based on facts.  Creative elements of the campaign can include intuition, but not strategy.



I hope these 5 Steps help you and your business weather this storm.  Remember, Two Second Media is always here for you – conversations are always free!

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