Marketing in a crisis

For companies such as ours, major mishaps such as the Corona virus lockdown are particularly frustrating – not because times are tough and people have been confined to their homes with their laptops instead of enjoying the comforts of their corporate workspaces – but because people cut their marketing budgets, hunker down and expect the dwindling numbers of business opportunities to come to them.

That’s simply not going to happen. If no one can find you (especially on the internet in this time of social distancing), suppliers will forget you in as long as it takes them to click on your competitor’s website and order / book from them.

We understand that the natural reaction to fear and uncertainty is trying to become invisible, especially if you are a restaurant that can’t serve wine with a succulent steak or a hotel whose doors are closed due to restrictions. The good news is that we seem to be on the other side of that dreaded curve and down to level 2. Doors are opening and corks are popping and we’re on our way back to the new business unusual.

Don’t stay silent. Despite all the clutter and a seemingly parallel pandemic of often irrelevant information that is streaming into in-boxes around the country, the business that will survive is the one that is speaking out above the crowd.

We know that consumers are digging deep in empty pockets right now, but there are opportunities out there. If you can be seen as the business that supports its clients even when they’re not doing business with them and care about the future of their companies and employees when there’s nothing in it for you, you’ll be the one they return to when the time is right.

Ask us – that’s what we’re doing. We’re sharing our experiences with you and even providing some tips on how to stay on top in a very uncertain business climate so that we will be top of your list when you have finished rejigging that marketing plan to make the best of a bad situation.

We’ll be the first to tell you to rethink the marketing plan that you’d just finalized in March 2020. Times have changed and you need to change with them.

Here are some of our marketing survival tips:

1. There are no best practices in a crisis. Many clients have asked us: “What should we do?” Our answer is that it depends - on your company, your brand, your customers and what they need right now. It is all about what people need right now and not about what you want to sell them – that’s where the opportunities lie. More than ever, values matter and honesty, transparency and integrity are important. Brands are showing up in unprecedented ways to support their employees, customers and communities. But others are simply using the pandemic as an excuse to pretend that they care. Make sure that you fit into the first category.

2. You must show up and lead. What the current crisis has taught us is to respect both our own humanity and that of our clients. Perhaps it took kids crashing conference calls for us to remember that the people we’re selling to have lives outside the office, families they’re juggling, elderly parents they’re worried about. Speak to that person, and your marketing will be 10x better, always. Right now, people want to know that you care enough to give them better service not that you are using lockdown restrictions as an excuse to provide second best. Be there.

3. Rethink your strategy, don’t abandon it. Are there any campaigns or ads that should be paused or rethought? Is your audience even paying attention? We’re all a bit distracted right now. Take this into consideration when allocating your near-term ad spend. Divide your approach into short, middle and long term and then make the necessary adjustments. Now might not be the time to invest in glossy print ads but rather to put more effort into social media marketing. Flexibility is key and you can shift how you invest your valuable resources to get the best result.

4. Content trumps empty promises. Re-evaluate any content scheduled or planned for the next few weeks. Is it appropriate given the current climate? People are getting “corona fatigue” and they’re honestly tired of hearing how much you care about whether or not they wash their hands or maintain social distancing. Consider shifting toward more feel-good stories for the time being. Many brands have interrupted their "regularly scheduled" content — and quite a few are reaching out to their audiences to ask what they want or need right now. One thing is certain, though, content marketing is key, especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).

5. Postpone campaign launches: Reassess any planned campaign launches or promotions. Again, the same questions apply: Is there anything that should be postponed based on sensitivity to your audience, audience distraction, market disruption or budget shifts?

6. Internal and External Communications: Consider any proactive communications that need to be sent to internal and external audiences regarding added precautions that your business is taking to protect the health of employees or customers entering its doors. Also, make sure people can easily access how they can get hold of your team if staff are still working from home.

7. Social responsibility still counts. The worst might be over, but this is when people forget those in need. Is your brand taking a proactive stance and keeping the concern alive? Should you raise funds or donations for those who have and are still being hurt by the crisis? Many brands have been stepping up to help in a variety of ways - providing food or aid to the elderly and other vulnerable populations, to workers and families unable to earn income amid closures, and to the healthcare workers on the front lines. If you can, find a way to give back — and rally your community to do the same.

8. Control what you can and take back control where you’re not. Accept that traffic and leads will almost certainly decline over the next few weeks and months. Your marketing team now needs to shift focus from the here and now and look at how the company can gain back ground in the medium to longer term. Remember that you no longer have the luxury of forgetting those little things. Focus on nurturing even the smallest leads. The devil is in the details.

9. Look Beyond. We’ve all heard it said – this will pass. So avoid, negativity and fear and knee-jerk reactions. Now is the time to make smart decisions that connect the here and now with the future. Use data and numbers to drive your decisions and keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. You might need to find that globe, but we’re here to help you do that.

For more information or advice, give us a call at S&A Marketing, we are here to help, on 0313031788 or email us at

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