COVID-19 Marketing — Adapt Your Strategy Instead of Stopping

by Christina Hooper.
Last Updated on May 8, 2022

Successful businesses don't let fear rule their marketing strategies — and now shouldn't be any different.

The economy is suffering and some businesses and industries are being hit hard. But your COVID-19 Marketing Strategy shouldn't be based on fear.

Disclaimer: I am NOT advocating fear-based marketing or shady sales tactics that prey on insecurities. I'm talking about holding true to your company values and continuing to serve your customers and prospects during this economic downturn.

Unless you are financially incapable of continuing marketing efforts, you shouldn't stop.

I know what you're thinking — I own a marketing agency, so of course I'm going to be biased. I won't deny it, my insider knowledge does help me feel confident in my advice that you shouldn't throw in the towel yet.

Companies that concentrate on their core business dramatically improve their odds of success in a downturn. About 95% of the companies that qualify as "sustained value creators"—those that maintained at least a 5.5% real growth rate in revenue and profit over ten years while earning back their cost of capital—are leaders in their core businesses. They not only perform better during expansions but recover faster when growth rebounds from an economic slump.

During the last recession, for example, the average net profit margins of this group bounced back to 6.5% in 2002, only slightly below pre-recession levels in 2000. Their competitors fared much worse, with average net profit margins falling to around 1% during the same period, a drop of about 3 percentage points.

Essentially, the companies that get scared and stop investing in marketing efforts are the ones that recover the slowest when things start to rebound and go back to normal.

Normal may look different, but this crisis will end and you want to be one of the leaders at the end of it instead struggling to gain your momentum back.

Change Marketing Tactics

Just because I'm advising that you continue marketing, that doesn't mean that you should forge ahead with everything that had planned out before COVID struck.

This pandemic happened quickly, so you'll have to adapt quickly.

  • Pause Your Content Calendar. You should consider putting your current content calendar on hold unless you have articles that are still applicable in this current climate.
  • Review Scheduled Promotions. If you like to queue up your social posts or email newsletters, make sure you carefully review any that are scheduled before they go out to make sure they are applicable.
  • Talk to Your Customers. Start making a list of their questions and your answers and get new content going out ASAP to answer these questions
  • Publish Content via email, social, and on your website for customers to let them know how you're operating right now and what changes (if any) they can expect.
  • Keep your communication up-to-date. If you publish a page on your site about how you're responding to COVID-19, update it regularly as things change.
  • Host Webinars. If you haven't hosted informational Question & Answer Webinars before, you should consider starting now. Webinar registration lead times are much faster now — with a week advance notice to promote them being sufficient. Webinar attendance is also much higher right now since people have time and have questions.
  • Reallocate Budgets. If you traditionally attended events or had your team travel on site with clients, consider allocating those budgets to other digital marketing efforts or training programs that will help your managers adapt to changes.

Get Ahead

Think about campaigns that you have been putting off because you didn't have time to work on them. While you're under quarantine or business is slower, get a head start on getting those campaigns together so they are ready to go as things turn around.

A single drop of good news in the middle of this pandemic could cause the market to shift back up almost as fast as it went down.

You need to be prepared to quickly change tactics and launch new campaigns when that happens.

Adapt Your Services

Ask yourself how you can best serve your customers right now?

  • If you traditionally offered your services face-to-face, can you offer the same — or better — remotely?
  • If you offered large, comprehensive (ie: expensive) service offers, can you package up smaller modules on specific topics that are more applicable to your customers right now at a lower price point?
  • Can you collaborate with other companies to deliver value to your customers?
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