How to Keep COVID-19 from Killing Your Marketing Plan

Surviving as a business despite the disease.

Jazelle Handoush
Apr 6, 2020 · 7 min read
Photo by Anton on Unsplash

Social distancing, protective wear, toilet paper hoarding; in the wake of the coronavirus, these factors are becoming our new normal. Boutiques are closing their doors, grocery stores are allowing a limited number of guests at a time, and restaurants are compensating for the lack of guests by offering new delivery options.

Despite these precautions, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the new rate of confirmed deaths worldwide reaching over 64,400 in total. Small businesses are starting to feel the pressure. Can you keep COVID-19 from killing your marketing plan?

With the right plan in place, you can keep marketing despite the disease. Don’t let the coronavirus slow you down! Instead, boost your brand and business with these tips to navigating COVID-19 through your marketing.

1. Start with Scenarios

Forty-two percent of experts now believe the virus will throw the country into a major recession. Thankfully, there’s still hope. A strong digital marketing plan can help you connect with your stay-at-home customers and generate more business.

Before you start marketing, it’s important to plan for the worst. Anticipating every possible outcome can help you prepare ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll end up scrambling.

For example, what if businesses don’t start opening their doors until July or August? What can you do to keep business running for the next few months?

Take the time to plan for the best, worst, and middle-ground scenarios. Don’t forget to identify the challenges your customers are facing as well. Knowing the consumer’s worst-case scenario can help you offer customers a helpful solution.

For example, many customers are staying at home for as long as possible before shopping for essentials. Consider offering customers a value pack that will allow you to make a big sale despite less frequent sales.

Does the bar in your restaurant generate a big portion of sales? Many bars are now offering do-it-yourself kits customers can purchase to make their favorite drinks at home.

Make a list of possible scenarios and develop a solution for each one. These scenarios will become the foundation to keep COVID-19 from killing your marketing plan.

2. Listen Up!

In order to respond to your customers during this difficult time, you need to know what they’re going through. How is your target audience responding to the situation? Many people are social-distancing, supporting their local businesses, and relying on technology during this crisis.

Meanwhile, many consumers have voiced distrust for certain brands. In response, many brands are trying to use customer-centric actions to rebuild trust with their customers.

What are your customers experiencing? What are they feeling — stressed, worried, bored? What decisions are they making in response to these emotions?

Consider creating a voice of the customer (VoC) program or using a social listening tool. Make a note of what your customers are saying about the coronavirus and their health concerns.

Then, try to shift their discussion in a way that’s relevant to your brand.

For example, let’s say you sell hairstyling products or makeup. Encourage your customers to take self-quarantining as an opportunity to try off styles they would have never considered before. After all, no one’s going to see their crazy new look.

Are your customers concerned about how the virus is spreading through town? Show the precautions your business is taking to keep products and your shop germ-free.

Take this as an opportunity to plan your responses. How can you provide peace of mind or support your customers in this time? As you develop this plan, make sure to consider your short-term and long-term goals for maintaining trust with your customers.

3. Know When to Adapt

In order to keep COVID-19 from killing your marketing plan, you need to know how to adapt based on possible best- and worst-case scenarios. At this point, we don’t know how long the virus will impact businesses worldwide. Try to adapt your strategy with the next six months in mind.

That way, you can anticipate any possible changes and how you’ll need to adapt.

The first step is to alter any event-based programs you had for the year. People are taking precautions to avoid large crowds. Show customers you’re taking the same precautions by developing alternatives for your previously planned events.

For example, you’ll want to cancel any in-person conferences you planned for the spring. Instead, consider hosting a virtual event. You can also hold live video chats, Q&As with your customers, and other digital alternatives.

Adapting your planned events for the upcoming months instead of canceling them outright will help you maintain communication with your customers.

4. Anticipate the Impact

As COVID-19 continues to spread, more companies are choosing to either close their doors or seek guidance and loans. The Paycheck Protection program is providing up to $349 billion for job retention and small business expenses. In order to keep the virus from killing your marketing plan, you might need to look into similar programs to keep your business afloat, too.

Take the time to consider how the coronavirus will impact your business as a whole. For example, many factories are closing, leading to stalled supply chains. As a result, you might experience an imbalance between supply and demand along with product and delivery challenges.

How can you adapt your marketing to respond to these challenges? As you adjust your messaging, make sure to consider your brand’s mission and vision. What promises did you make to your customers that you need to uphold?

Instead of making new promises, try encouraging customers to maintain realistic expectations.

As you anticipate the impact COVID-19 will have on your business, remain transparent with your customers. Transparency will remind your customers you’re aware of these issues, care about their experience, and want to remain honest at this time.

5. Remain Relevant

In order to keep your business from sinking in light of COVID-19, you need to remain relevant.

First, address the needs and concerns your customers are currently experiencing. Show customers they’re your priority above all else.

Do you have a strong content marketing strategy? If office operations are slowing down, take this time as an opportunity to strengthen every component of your marketing plan. Start caffeinating your content by becoming a better writer, which can boost your website ranking, social media engagement, and more.

If you’re struggling to come up with fresh ideas as your team’s content creator, utilize these tips and slay the day!

Using content creation, you can remain top-of-mind with customers despite the rocky road ahead.

6. Let Your Leaders Shine

Developing a strong thought leadership strategy can also help you stand out from your competitors. First, consider the unique value you offer customers that no one else can. Maybe you’ve been in this industry for over 25 years and have plenty of expertise to offer your readers.

If so, share that wealth of knowledge! Focusing on thought leadership will sow customers you’re there to help. In time, you can become a relevant resource in your industry.

Instead of falling into the background of all the COVID-19 noise, you can stand in the spotlight!

7. Offer Services Online

With consumers spending less time outside of your home, you’ll need to adapt your service offerings accordingly. For now, try to focus on your digital marketing and PR strategies.

What services can you provide your users from the comfort of their own homes? For example, you might want to create a webinar series that customers can sign-up to access. These sign-ups will help you build your email subscription list, allowing you to generate future sales.

You can also host live Instagram and Facebook video sessions to improve online engagement. Make sure to post online regularly to remind customers you’re there.

8. Step Up Your Social Presence

Speaking of Instagram and Facebook, this is a great time to improve your social media marketing strategy. Customers are spending more time on their favorite accounts than ever before. While they’re stuck at home, you can take advantage of their screen time by remaining top-of-mind through social media.

First, give each of your social media accounts a fresh look. Consider updating your profile picture and banner images (all the while sticking to your visual brand). Next, make sure to post your fresh content, which will help you draw traffic to your website. Keep this content fresh, helpful, and relevant to your audience’s current needs.

If you make any changes to operations, such as service offerings or business hours, make sure to let your audience know as soon as possible.

9. Give Your SEO a Lot of Love

In order to keep COVID-19 from killing your marketing plan for the year, make sure to step up search. Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures your website content appears on search engines like Google. When consumers search for your product or service, your website needs to appear at the top of the page.

A weak SEO strategy could cost you customers. A higher SEO ranking, on the other hand, can boost brand awareness, website traffic, leads, and sales.

First, make sure your website is up-to-date. Prioritize user experience by using minimalistic design trends. A clean, fresh website will load quickly and encourage engagement, which will boost your SEO ranking.

Make sure your site is mobile-optimized, too. As people spend more time on their phones, you want to make sure your site is easy to access and use.

By boosting your SEO ranking, you can build your audience and remain top-of-mind with customers. Here are a few tips for becoming your company’s SEO expert if you’re still new to optimizing.

10. Cut Down Costs

As you continue to update your marketing strategy in light of COVID-19 develops, try to cut unnecessary costs. For example, there’s no need to print flyers or other costly materials right now. Consider limiting your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising spend, too.

Instead, focus on cost-effective digital strategies that will help you remain connected with your customers.

Surviving in the Throes of a Pandemic: How to Keep COVID-19 from Killing Your Marketing

It’s a scary time right now, but not impossible to manage. With these 10 tips, you can discover how to keep COVID-19 from killing your marketing plan for the rest of the year. Keep communicating with your customers and moving your business forward with these 10 tips.

Check out the latest tips, tricks, and guides on The Startup for more ways to adapt your strategy during the outbreak.

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