24 Apr 2020

Marketing During the Pandemic

Because of COVID-19, the world is in lockdown. But that doesn’t mean that your business needs to be. Sure, there’s lots of bad news out there – every time I get a news notification it seems like the stock market has taken another hit, a major company has reported a huge loss of revenue, or, worst of all, there’s another horrific update on the current death toll. And it’s hard not to keep asking the same question: How can businesses come out on the other end of this?

To start, let’s throw out an idea that might seem inconsistent with what a lot of businesses are doing.

Now is not the time to slow down. You need to continue to build momentum, stay in the game, stay relevant and stay top of mind. Because when things snap back, like they always do, you’ll be in a position where you’ll be poised to win. Because of the panic that this pandemic seems to have caused in the world of business, most advertisers are pulling back. This means that cost are down. Way down. In fact, the price of advertising on Facebook and Google are at record lows.

On the surface, this seems like bad news. In reality, it’s an opportunity.

So many companies make the mistake of gutting their marketing budget the minute things take a turn. It’s generally one of the first things to go. But that’s counterintuitive. This is, perhaps, the time when your business needs to advertise most. It’s not about cutting the budget, but redistributing it.

It’s probably safe to say that you won’t be attending any trade shows or conferences in the near future, which means your travel budget will naturally be leaner. Maybe you work in a co-working space where rent is down due to non-use. Although we’re all hoping to avoid this one, you might have even had to cut your work force.

While these things are undoubtedly products of the pandemic, and problems you probably weren’t expecting to face, they’re also freeing up your dollars to be used in different ways. People might not be filling bars, restaurants and shops like they normally do, but they seem to have found somewhere new to congregate.

More people are spending time on social media than ever before, and they’re looking for some pretty specific information – if you’re still operational, how your company is adjusting and adapting and what precautions you’ve put in place. It’s important to keep customers up-to-date on any changes in hours, service offerings or safety protocols, which you can do through your website, email list and social media accounts. If you have an online store, delivery services, or you can offer gift cards for future use, highlight those things. Aspects of your business that may have seemed commonplace three months ago are now your biggest selling points.

While the rest of the world is on pause, use this time to grow your audience, reconnect with current customers, work on developing a brand strategy, and messaging that is authentic. This is the time to be thinking about relationships, not revenue.

One of our clients, a holistic wellness company, has pivoted their service offerings to stay relevant amid the coronavirus crisis, providing free content and telemedicine consultations. And they’re not doing this because it was a savvy business move. They’re doing this because it was the right thing to do.

This is not the time to deflect, and it’s certainly not the time to recycle the same messages you were using before COVID-19 hit. The importance of empathy, authenticity, and competency cannot be overstated. It’s a time to take the reality of the situation that we’re all facing head-on, and acknowledge its gravity. Maintain a channel of communication with your customers, clients, and staff. In fact, it’s okay to over-communicate. Take advantage of Zoom video conferences, Google Hangouts, and Loom video messages. Sometimes, simply asking how you can help makes all the difference in the difference in the world. Staying connected to not only your potential customers, but your internal team, will make the transition out of the current climate a smoother one.

Thought it might seem like something too far down the line to think about right now, it’s important to prepare for the moment that things do go back to normal. Solidify your current customer base, re-connect with those you’ve had relationship with in the past, and try to take the lessons you learned during this time of economic crisis and apply them to your business.

Master new technologies, set up new partnerships, learn how to be a better businessperson. People are resilient. They are adaptable. And they are stronger than this crisis.


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!