Marketing In The Midst of Coronavirus: What Every Brand Needs To Know

Marketing In The Midst of Coronavirus: What Every Brand Needs To Know

By Annie ZelmMar 17 /2020

As government and public health officials take aggressive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly every individual and organization now feels the impact.

With widespread cancellations and closures in place until further notice, these are uncertain times for everyone. While it might be tempting to tighten the reins on your marketing budget amid concerns about an impending recession, halting spending now could have an even more crippling impact on your future opportunities. Instead, marketers should call upon trusted partners to determine how to pivot their marketing strategy to ensure they stay top of mind for consumers, whether they are moving up their buying timeline or pushing it back.

Our digital marketing agency has been working closely with our clients to respond appropriately to coronavirus concerns and make strategic adjustments in their marketing messages and demand generation tactics.

Here are a few things your organization should consider doing .

Adjusting Your Business Delivery Model

In light of the CDC’s latest recommendations to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 or more people for at least the next eight weeks, many companies have been forced to rethink the way they do business.

At least 10 states have announced closures of all bars and restaurants. More than 30 retailers —including Apple, Nike and REI — have announced closures of all stores through at least the end of March. Starbucks has announced it’s temporarily adopting a “to-go” only model. Many museums and major tourist attractions, including Disney theme parks and stores, have temporarily closed, too. Some museums are offering virtual tours to keep tourists engaged while they stay home.

While there’s no virtual experience that comes close to the magic and thrill of visiting Walt Disney World or attending a concert, social distancing measures are likely to drive more people to shop online. Smart retailers and other businesses can take proactive steps to prepare for this, including:

Enlisting a marketing agency with expertise in all these tactics can help you offer your customers a compelling and consistent experience no matter where they interact with your brand.

Re-Evaluating Marketing Campaigns

Dozens of brands have suspended, delayed or shifted planned marketing campaigns in light of the coronavirus. AdAge has been keeping a running list of how brands are responding.

For instance, Ford delayed a big announcement about bringing back the Bronco, while companies like Jersey Mike’s had to re-evaluate ads planned to run during the NCAA tournament. Hershey changed an ad campaign that emphasized hugs and handshakes, while KFC pulled advertising that focused on finger-licking after receiving complaints it was inappropriate during a time when health officials are reminding people of good hygiene practices.

As they navigate this uncharted territory, brands should respond with empathy and sensitivity to the world’s concerns. That includes carefully considering all social media posts and how they might be received in the midst of the crisis. If your brand is known for its biting humor, this might be a time to tone it down.

While some brands might need to redirect digital advertising focused on specific services, others have expanded opportunities to meet needs.

For instance, many companies in healthcare, online learning, business technology, environmental services or commercial cleaning will likely be in even greater demand. They should consider how searches related to their services are evolving and ensure they have the right message and content to help prospects learn more.

Finding Alternatives to Live Events

The cancellation of trade shows and conferences means many companies have lost a major source of leads they count on every year. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with prospects if you’re willing to think outside the booth.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Host a virtual trade show, a microsite or landing page featuring gated resources such as product demos and educational content
  • Repurpose your keynote speech as a video and share it with everyone who planned to attend
  • Invite conference speakers to repurpose their talk as a video or guest blog post
  • Use breakout session materials to host a webinar series
  • Reach out to your best media contacts with exclusive announcements you were planning to unveil during a live event
  • Engage with social media influencers who will spread the word for you

Many brands are already seeing success with these digital marketing strategies. To be effective, however, they need to be intentional. That means having a budget, a plan for how and where you will promote each, who you will target and how you will measure success.

Communicating With Customers and Clients

In a crisis like this one, silence is the worst possible response. If your brand refuses to address critical issues, the conversation will continue without your input. Your customers will look for answers wherever they can find them, and misleading information can proliferate in the absence of those answers.

No matter who your customers are, they will expect to hear a proactive response from you. They’ll want to know some basic information, including:

  • What your organization is doing to keep your employees and the public safe
  • Whether any recent changes impact your operations or events
  • How you are handling refunds if you’ve had widespread closures or cancellations
  • What they can expect from you in the weeks to come

Your company should form a crisis communications task force if you don’t already have one to handle those responses on a daily basis. You should have a plan for responding to employee concerns, customer questions and media inquiries. Your marketing agency can help you develop messaging and share it through all channels, including your website, email, blog and social media.

Staying Top of Mind For Prospects

Even if your customers aren’t buying right now, you can stay at the top of their minds by considering their needs and providing value through challenging times.

Educational content that helps to solve their most pressing problems will always be in demand. So will inspiring videos, creative designs and innovative ideas shared by your company’s leadership.

While the coronavirus pandemic has already had a significant impact on the business community and the economy, your company still has plenty of opportunities to be there for your customers and prospects through the crisis. Although it’s frustrating to back away from face-to-face interactions, you can offset some of that impact by ramping up your online presence. If you need help planning your next move or revisiting your marketing strategy in response to the coronavirus crisis, we’re here to help.

Working with Kuno


The Author

Annie Zelm

Annie is the driving force behind content strategy for clients. She uncovers insights about what motivates buyers and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars. Annie brings several years of PR experience gained from working at the amusement park, Cedar Point.