How do you continue to market in a crisis? Should you even be marketing right now?

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are now living and some of us working in a very different place than only just a few weeks ago.  ‘Coronavirus’ is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, as we’ve all been directly affected by it.   And, for businesses, the pandemic is having a detrimental economic effect.  Many will face challenges for the foreseeable future, if they haven’t already been forced to shut down completely.  

In times of adversity, you can understand why many businesses consider marketing a luxury spend.  A non-essential function.   They often pull back or stop marketing all together.   But the truth is, the smartest organisations see it as an opportunity to ensure they are remembered when they come out the other side.   Businesses, have two clear options; 

  1. You can accept being a casualty.  Knee-jerk and pause all marketing efforts by sitting tight and wait for little results.
  2. Or, you can face the music head on.  Seize the opportunity to be seen in the right way, get recognised and get ahead of the crowd.  

When choosing option 2, a few considerations need to be thought through bearing in mind the sensitive environment we’re in.  Communications should be concise, clear and show compassion.  There are no hard-fast rules, but empathy will also be required.   Remember; what you do today, will change tomorrow and help how your business is perceived when the world starts to recover.    

Here are a few ways to effectively ‘market your business in a crisis’… 

Internal communications 

Now more than ever, Internal communications is vital. Your first steps should be to look after your people. Effective communication with staff during a crisis will also help protect the business so be proactive, reach out, get together online to help motivate, encourage and shape behaviours. But first and foremost be transparent with your employees. Your employees will undoubtably be feeling anxious, so by hiding what’s really going on within your business makes your employees even more nervous. The more you can be open and honest with your staff during a crisis, the greater trust they will have.  

Social Media Marketing  

The online world is growing rapidly, and you have a captive audience as the majority of people are now working from home and staying inside. Social media is escapism, and everyone has become a little addicted (more than before!). Therefore, this is the perfect time to hit your audiences. But note, this is not the time for the hard sell and don’t bombard them with pointless content.  Look at your social media strategy, adapt to the new climate and avoid any messaging that may look like you’re exploiting the pandemic. People are looking to see the softer side to the business, positive messages, useful tips and interesting data as well as how well your business is positioned to manage the challenging situation that we are all facing. 

Digital Advertising  

Spend some budget on adverting online through social media and Google to expand your digital reach, tap into a wider targeted audience to generate leads and grow your e-mail lists.   There are some enticing deals to be had to so maximise your digital presence as far as your budget allows. 

Email Marketing  

For small businesses, not being able to have that face-to-face contact will be alien as it tends to be what hangs a small business together. But you can use technology to speak face to face.  To further bolster this you can also continue to build relationships and trust though e-mail marketing and when combined with a digital boost, you will also reach new prospects to begin building relationships with.  


Use the time to improve your website and Google rankings. If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, this is the perfect opportunity to improve your search and web performance.  Produce high quality content, re-visit and test your keywords and keyword phrases, , ensure your title and description metadata is rich with these keywords, link to social media… 

The effort you put in now, will certainly show down the line.  

Online Events  

Who says self-isolation means being anti-social? In-fact it should be the opposite. Host online events for your customers and provide insights on what is important to their current challenges. There are a wide range of online communication platforms that make this possible. Zoom, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams and even the app ‘House Party’ is great for communicating with large groups of people.  

Your event doesn’t even have to be about your business. It can just be to check in on your clients, to make sure they’re ok and have someone to talk too during this strange, strange time. This helps build an element of trust, as your client will see that you care about them, not just the sale.  

Market Research  

Again, use the time wisely – carry out competitor analysis, look at market trends and get an action plan that will get you ahead of the curve.  

Improving Marketing Materials 

Now is also a good time to review, update and enhance your suite of sales and marketing tools so you have something fresh and exciting to share when the time is right.  

Getting Creative 

Think outside the box! Are there ways you can creatively support the local community? Launch that marketing campaign to generate a buzz. Can you share something that will make people laugh during adversity? Or even make a product that will help the front line?   

We have loved watching organisations take creativity to a whole new level.  For example, BrewDog and a number of local gin distillers are manufacturing hand sanitiser to help with the shortages. 

We’re not saying start making hand sanitiser, but even the smallest gesture goes a long way.  For example, North East Rig Out (NERO), a local protective clothing supplier is offering a free collection and drop-off service for any PPE products people or businesses have available for the NHS, but can’t manage to deliver.

Click here to out how some of the brand giants are also showing support and creativity.

Finally, and most importantly, get your tone and approach spot on.  It is still appropriate to continue marketing so show how you are supporting, share the latest news and insights and don’t be afraid to inject personality and humour as let’s face it we could all be doing with a laugh.   

So, go on, lead the way and remain visible to build trust and credibility, so you come out stronger when we reach the flip side.   

If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to give us a shout.   

Stay safe people.