covid 19 pandemic marketing

COVID-19 has pulled the e-brake on so many of our lives, businesses, and homes.

As a society, we are used to going. Fast and furious, forward—and suddenly, we must stop to protect our vulnerable populations. Many of us are uncomfortable and unsure—as we should be. We have all been impacted by this virus, and, we are all pulling together to fight, prevent and heal.

With things in the world so completely up in the air and so much changing by the hour, let’s try to take a break from overwhelm and instead look for opportunity. This is a great time to reevaluate some of the things your business is (or should be) doing and the future you are creating right now.

Here are four things to keep in mind as you market and reposition your business in the COVID-19 age.

#1. Be responsive, not reactive.

One of the first signs shiz was getting real was a barrage of emails from all sorts of businesses telling us they were busily cleaning ALL THE THINGS and making sure no one with flu-like symptoms was at work.

I don’t know about you, but for me, those emails didn’t incite any more trust or relationship-building…. They just highlighted how many business were forced to make decisions based on knee-jerk reactions rather than out of genuine concern for and understanding of their prospect’s current experience. With so much unknown, it felt like a mandatory CYA response rather than a strategic consideration to see what they could offer given the current situation. Example: we are wiping down our desks and washing our hands, come in and meet with us!

The two emails that did stand out were:

One from Pluckers Wing Bar. With the big headline that said PLUCK CORONAVIRUS. Their audience is edgier, they love beer and wings. [raises hand] This resonated with their prospect’s current experiences. What else did they do? They didn’t just look around, they stepped it up. They doubled points for their reward members and offered a $1,000 sweepstakes.

pluckers coronavirus email campaign

One of my fave local restaurants adapted and started selling pick-up quarantine kits. $60. Sold out in a matter of hours.


Genius and thoughtful, right?

Now, it’s worth noting that both these emails landed in my inbox these past few days, which means the businesses behind them resisted the urge to jump on the bandwagon of updating everyone on their internal policies, and instead tuned into their prospect’s needs, adjusting business as usual to fit a time where there isn’t a whole lot of ‘usual’ going on anywhere.

Which is something you can do too. You may not be a restaurant, but if you manufacture machines then look at ramping up parts and service—businesses will need to maintain versus investing in new equipment. Offer in-person training or consulting. Set up group coaching, webinars, or virtual programs.

Speaking of…

#2. You’re talking to the same prospect, but their immediate needs have DEFINITELY shifted

For example, instead of trying to scale their business or product, your prospect might now be far more concerned with how to keep it afloat.

Instead of figuring out how to successfully pitch in-person events, your prospect might now be wondering where she can get the same kind of visibility and traction online.

Of course, this won’t go on forever (see Thing #3), and I don’t think you should run around and change your whole business model but I *do* think it’s hugely beneficial to align your messaging with the current climate.

This alignment might be as simple as shining the spotlight on different parts of your existing offer(s), product(s), and/or service(s).

I think it’s safe to say that the things people are searching for right now center around:

  • Certainty
  • Routine
  • Connection
  • Security
  • Permission
  • Purpose

And I’d bet my Amazon Prime login (I’m quarantined with two children under the age of four, so these stakes have NEVER BEEN HIGHER!) that your business offers at least one of these.

Selling some sort of framework? How *relieving* for your prospect to know what comes first, what comes next, and what they’ll walk away with at the end.

Offering a 1:1 service that steps your client through a process or project (i.e. organization, design, counseling, accounting)? The fact that your client gets to book your team for virtual calls just became something concrete they can plan for in the coming weeks—even if almost every other thing in their day-to-day gets cancelled or postponed.

#3. Consistency is KING.

There is so much value in remaining known, seen or visible when everything around us is shape-shifting like the world’s craftiest boggart. (#Potterhead). Sure, you may have to learn some new tools (Instagram/Facebook Live, Zoom, etc) but keep it consistent:

  • Stick with what you know
  • Show up as you always have
  • Continue offering things that align with your known zone of genius

#4. This too shall pass

There were 0 new COVID-19 cases recorded in Wuhan Wednesday.

So this *will* end, whether that’s a result of isolation measures, herd immunity, or a vaccine. And yes, things probably won’t go 100% back to normal (my money’s on us all having amazing hand washing hygiene and making lots of eye contact because “OMG HUMANS!”), but rest assured that we humans are incredibly good at adapting, persisting, and generally finding ways to make things work.

So, if you want to keep marketing in these strange times—keep on but adapt and align to your audience’s current needs and reality.

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