What the COVID-19 Pandemic is Teaching Us About Marketing

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First: it’s teaching us not to panic. Or at least try not to.

Marketers have the ability to be shoot-from-the-hip campaigners, throwing anything against the wall to see what sticks, even during good times. So when we see the economy start to plummet, businesses shutting down, unemployment rising, marketers may have a tendency to become impulsive.

So what should we be taking into consideration? Before you hit send, schedule or post, consider a few things as you shift your marketing strategies:

It’s ok to do nothing.

Remember that strategy you spent weeks working on at the beginning of the year? File it away. More than likely it’s not relevant right now. Step back and reflect on how to best represent your company. Part of that will be to re-evaluate tone and messaging. Of course, that takes time, so it’s ok to not push anything out for a period of time while you do that. The last thing you want to push out is a drive-by marketing campaign that you threw together last minute due to pressure to have something on your channels.

Be empathetic.

Stop sending cold emails. It’s just a bad look all around. If someone has never spoken to you before, I guarantee they are not going to want to talk to you now. Now is the time for investing in the relationships you already have. Work with your sales and account management team to figure out who and how you can help during this time. Tap into your email marketing lists. Work on solutions that are going to solve others’ problems, not just your own.

Scale back and redistribute.

Rand Fishkin’s most recent Whiteboard Friday made a great point. We know cuts are inevitable. But when starting out, go at it with a scalpel, not a chainsaw. Try and keep the channels that are giving you positive ROI (even if you need to re-evaluate) and cut those that were experimental or whose ROI was low. Consider only channels and initiatives that will bring measurable value.

Spoiler Alert: Content Marketing is key.

Much like your organization, businesses are trying to figure out how to work during this new normal. Once you have a plan in place, go full force. While you may not be working with the same budget as before, think of ways to provide value while spending significantly less money. Content and social media marketing are always going to be your best bet. They take time, strategy and skill, and they’re budget-friendly.

Establish a new rallying cry.

Guinness. Nike. Coors Light. Just a few who have directly addressed the current crisis and did it well. How is your brand responding publicly to today’s events? How are you supporting your consumers during this time, as well? Create a relevant ethos, mission, rallying cry, whatever you want to call it, and that should be the foundation of your marketing. And if you do it right, it will make a helluva campaign.

As Mayur Gupta, CMO at Freshly, said, “The current crisis may just be the FORCE needed to SAVE the craft of marketing”. Forget about FOMO, blind spending, or short term gains from flashy marketing. Think about how your brand will stand after we get through this and that’s the marketing you should be pushing NOW.

Maria Juan is the VP of Marketing at Peerfit. She is a scrappy Googler and serial strategist, welcoming daydreams as a potential next big idea.

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