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The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing During COVID-19

With many states beginning to ease their stay-at-home orders and reopen non-essential businesses, now’s the time to revisit your marketing strategy. However, marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t as simple as do or do not.

If you’re like many of your small and medium-sized business (SMB) counterparts, you put the brakes on your marketing plans when the pandemic hit. Whether this was your choice or not, chances are that your business, your employees, and you personally, have been impacted. In fact, a recent McKinsey & Company report, that is tracking SMB sentiment during COVID-19, discovered that 54% of SMB’s income has been negatively affected, and 48% feel that their business is less secure than it was prior to the onset of the coronavirus.

To put your business on the fast-track to once again operate in the black, you need a marketing plan that takes into consideration our new reality. The first step is to ease off the brake and put your foot firmly, but cautiously, on the gas. Doing this requires that you take a look at the changes in the way people shop, eat, and live. 

Don’t Use the Pandemic for Your Gain

Where to begin? Let’s start with a handful of things that you should avoid. First, for the longevity of your business, don’t try to capitalize on the pandemic. For example, you should steer clear raising prices on items that are in scarce supply, using the virus as a reason to sell your products or services, or charging a COVID-19 surcharge to help you cover extra costs or make up for the money lost during the shutdown. You may get business in the short-term, but once the pandemic subsides you run the risk of losing these customers.

On the flip side, of the coin, are those businesses that remained virtually untouched by the virus and maybe even profited. For example, let’s assume you’re a seamstress and you and your small team make custom clothing. At the start of the pandemic, you changed your business model so that clients didn’t need to go into your shop, provided contactless delivery of their purchases, and added masks to the items you sell. Let’s also assume that you remained profitable, now’s not the time to brag. It’s important to remember that many businesses are currently operating in the red and some, may never recover. Staying positive, yet empathetic will go a long way to ensure that your business remains viable.

Whether you’ve been negatively affected or are one of the few that have kept the profitability wheels turning, responsible and smart marketing should be a priority. 

Marketing for Today and Into the Foreseeable Future

In light of the many changes that have and continue to take place, this is the ideal time to create an inbound marketing plan that will take you through the pandemic and into a COVID-19-free future.

Do you have current content or scheduled content that is no longer viable due to the changes incurred by the pandemic? Perhaps you’re a restaurant owner that was about to launch the campaign “A Little Bit of Italy in a Cozy Atmosphere .” For many consumers, who are leery about dipping their toes into the restaurant scene, this ad will do the opposite of what it was intended. Instead, an ad that focuses on the changes you made to keep your staff and customers safe, in addition to your great food, will provide the foot-traffic you need.  

Next, be sure to keep your messages crisp and simple. Let’s go back to our restaurant owner who needs to change his campaign. Perhaps he floods the market in social media, emails, and advertisements with “Get a Taste of Italy in a Safe Environment.” This low-cost promotion will not only let customers know that you are providing a safe environment, but that they can experience the great cuisine of Italy close to home. 

In addition to new messaging, you need to make sure that long-form content, graphics, and timelines are adjusted to meet today’s guidelines. What if you have a brochure or campaign that you couldn’t wait to launch? If the content doesn’t meet government guidelines and consumer requirements, put it on hold. Remember, the pandemic will end and you will be ahead of the curve with well thought out marketing plans and material that were sidelined.

If you’d like to learn more about inbound marketing or need help developing a strategy for marketing in a downturn, let us know!