How to Adapt Your Marketing Strategy for COVID-19

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Posted by Stephanie Stocker on April 24, 2020

Personally, I hate to even mention “COVID-19” in this blog title, because I know most of us are getting a little fatigued with the constant talk about the pandemic. A lot of it is very important – but there’s a lot of noise out there, too.

Unfortunately, though, there’s no way to avoid or ignore the challenges that dealing with COVID-19 has caused, both personally and professionally. Every aspect of our lives has been fundamentally changed from what it was just a couple of months ago, and with no exception, it’s changed the way a lot of us do business (goodbye, in-person sales pitches and conference room meetings; hello, Zoom!).

All of these changes are likely forcing you to adapt your marketing strategy for the foreseeable future. Before stay-at-home orders were issued across the globe, we were nearing the height of tradeshow season. Many of us were gearing up for valuable sales, networking and business development opportunities at these events. Those shows have all been canceled, and many “non-essential” businesses that rely on foot traffic and face-to-face interactions have also been shut down.

Those in-person components are a huge driver of business growth in both the B2B and B2C spaces, and unfortunately, they’re going to be difficult to replace through digital tactics. But we’ve witnessed firsthand the creative ideas and strategies our clients have come up with to generate leads and serve their customers during these trying times.

So, if you need some inspiration of your own, here are a few areas you can focus on to make sure you’re getting the best return on your marketing investment in the middle of the pandemic.

Strike the Right Balance

Things just aren’t business as usual right now for anyone; some companies have ramped up operations and/or staff, others have scaled back, but either way, I don’t know if you could name a single organization that hasn’t been affected by stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations.

That means that failing to address COVID-19 at all as a brand will likely seem out of touch with your audience. You’ll want to give some thought as to what it looks like tactically, though. It may just be a simple message or email to customers letting them know you’re there for them. If it makes sense for your industry, maybe you want to highlight certain customers or partners who are doing their part to help (think: pivoting to making masks) on social media or other channels.

But it’s important to strike the right balance when it comes to frequency here. You shouldn’t treat COVID-19 as just another hot-button topic. Make sure that if you’re creating content around it, it’s actually relevant to your audience. Think about what they may be struggling with, just like you would in any other situation, and work to help them through that.

Reflect and Restrategize to Adapt Your Marketing Strategy

In a world where things normally move fast, I know it can be a challenge to just take a breath and think about your overall strategy. We tend to get caught up in the day-to-day without circling back to the greater mission that drives those activities.

So, if you’re seeing a downturn in your normal business operations, now might be a really good time to think about your own high-level marketing strategy and see if there’s anything you want to hone or adapt. Slowdowns are difficult to cope with, but by taking some extra initiative now to be strategic, you can position yourself for success when things get back to normal.

Don’t feel like you need to take this time to go through a rebrand, or launch an entirely new website. You don’t even have to use it to tackle a specific project that’s been sitting on the back-burner. If you find yourself with some extra bandwidth, you can use it to reflect on completed projects and to revisit your strategy to make sure it’s aligned with overarching business goals – especially if those goals are also shifting during all this uncertainty.

Where to Invest Your Marketing Dollars Now

Your company may have some difficult decisions ahead as far as trimming the budget or even staff; we know that many, many companies are facing the same scenario. As sobering as that may be, it does present a unique opportunity if you can find ways to optimize your spend. Many of your competitors are likely cutting back right now too, meaning there could be room for you to step up and own a new channel or space.

In our new digital-only, remote-working reality, here are three marketing initiatives you’ll want to consider to fill the gaps during lockdown:

  • PPC (pay-per-click): We’ve written before about how PPC is an excellent complementary marketing strategy for generating new leads and nurturing existing ones. If you have some wiggle room, increasing your PPC spend could help supplement what you may have lost from canceled trade shows and other projects put on hold, especially if your services are needed now more than ever. Read more about how to make the most of your PPC budget.
  • Podcasting: The one really great thing about podcasting during a lockdown? It can all be done remotely, including recording, interviewing guests, editing and producing episodes. Now could be a really opportune time to launch your own corporate podcast, to try and hit your audience over a relatively new medium while they have more free time to listen. Because of its virtual nature, a podcast could also work well as a replacement for “on-site projects” you might have been planning, such as video shoots or events.
  • E-commerce: If your brick-and-mortar business has been shut down due to the pandemic, you should definitely look into e-commerce options. If you’re a retail establishment that didn’t focus heavily on online sales before, you’ll probably want to pivot there for the near future. Other small businesses, such as restaurants, will also want to consider selling specialty goods online and shipping them out to customers.

It goes without saying, but the entire AAC team remains committed to supporting you and all of your marketing needs during this crisis. If you’re interested in ramping up any of these tactics but you’re not quite sure where to start, we’d be happy to help.

Just reach out to our team and we’ll get started right away!

Stephanie Stocker - Director, Marketing

Stephanie Stocker
Director, Marketing