How to Market During a Pandemic

Marketing in a PandemicThere’s a global pandemic. The stock market crashed. Unemployment is soaring. All but the most essential brick and mortar businesses are closed.

Marketing feels uncertain right now. Maybe a little icky.

And I get it. We are all trying to figure out what to do at a time when there are no playbooks. You know the stakes are high as you try to increase sales and avoid hurting your brand.

Government policy and changing consumer shopping habits have changed the landscape for business—all within a few short weeks.

But I can tell you this: it’s okay to be marketing.

Why you shouldn’t stop marketing

Although it might be easier to hide under your couch binge-watching  Tiger King, that’s not going to sustain your business.

Many businesses make the mistake of stopping marketing when the waters feel uncharted, but now is a great time to show your customers how you can help them achieve their goals. Ad space is significantly cheaper than it was a couple of months ago, and the right message will help you attract and retain your customers.

More of your prospective customers are likely spending more time online. Limited mobility outside their home means they may have more time to surf the internet.

And although we’ve had a definite surge in the number of unemployed people in Canada, there are still a lot of people who are working (and who might have money to spend).

So, don’t stop marketing—just do it a little differently. Here are a few things you can do when everything feels unmarketable:

Acknowledge the elephant in the room

The marketing content you created a month ago may not work now. If you have launch emails going out or a Facebook ad running, you may want to acknowledge what’s going on. That doesn’t mean you can’t sell. What it means is that you should mention what’s going on to your audience and perhaps tie it in with what you are selling. Don’t be aggressive about it.

If your audience needs what you are selling, it’s okay to sell it. People still need products and services. You might have a product that’s in higher demand due to the current climate and it’s okay to sell it. Just make sure your marketing isn’t playing off what’s going on in a way that’s not authentic to your brand.

Be authentic

Authenticity sells. People are drawn to people and brands that feel authentic.

To be more authentic, understand your organization’s values. Why does your business exist and why does it matter?

Authenticity shows in things like:

  • Are you showing up (on social media, on your website, in customer calls)?
  • Sharing your story—why’d you start your business?
  • Being vulnerable—how are you feeling right now?
  • Sharing your values
  • Are you selling something people need? Can you show them how your product or service will help them achieve their goals?

Avoid fear-based marketing

Fear-based marketing doesn’t work in the long term and that’s never been truer than it is right now. Your prospects are looking to you for hope, not to scare them into getting out their credit card.

Instead, address any objections up front (which is great marketing advice at any time) and show your customers why your product will help them achieve their goals.

Ensure your online presence is the best it can be

Now is the time to ensure your website is working well, the copy is persuasive, and your messaging is right for your audience. Is your website easy to navigate? Are your products and services up to date?

The same goes for social media. Do you have a solid social media strategy (that you’ve adjusted over the last month)? Are you sharing your products and services or are you just using it to share COVID-19 themed memes (no shame in sharing memes—just don’t forget your purpose).

So how can you market when everything feels unmarketable?

Now more than ever, your relationship with your customers matters. Customer service is even more important, as is customer retention.

To build a brand your customers love and return to, time after time, here are a few things you can do:

  • Write a blog post with content that will help your readers
  • Share something on social media your audience will find helpful, funny, or interesting
  • Tailor your emails to mention these challenging times
  • Consider giving your audience something timely that will help them right now (a free, no sales webinar or live training, for example)

We can’t know what the future will bring but we will manage it better with a solid strategy.