Marketing During COVID-19: Advice and Best Practices

Marketing During COVID-19: Advice and Best Practices

Marketing During COVID-19: Advice and Best Practices

Organizations Can Not Only Survive, But Thrive 

In April of 2009, I took a crazy leap of faith and started Hersh PR and Marketing. I was 23 years old, essentially fresh out of college and I had no idea how the Great Recession would play out. Fast forward to 2020 and it’s become clear that many of the lessons I learned in the early years of my business can be dusted off and applied once again. Unexpected events such as floods, earthquakes or epidemics can rattle even the most prepared business. The events that have unfolded in the past several weeks have demonstrated that it’s important to have well-document strategies for your business that are based on sound data and can be revised quickly as economic conditions shift. During this time, I suggest that you have the right individuals participating during your internal conversations about business strategy and marketing. Be mindful that your initial reactions can and will affect the perception of your organization and it’s smart to have an external (third-party) voice participate in these conversations.

Don’t Exploit the Situation

I’m not a fan of (extreme) fear-based marketing tactics* and now is certainly not the time to capitalize on people’s fear. Attempting to make a quick buck as a result of COVID-19 is extremely short-sighted. Play the long game (more on that below) and be very mindful of the messages you’re distributing.

Don’t Stop Marketing

It’s easy to “turn off” your marketing. It’s extremely difficult to rebuild your momentum when you attempt to turn it back on. Studies going as far back as the 1920s indicate the advantages of maintaining or even increasing your marketing budget during a weak economy.

The relative noise level in your particular industry might drop as competitors cut their budget, creating an opportunity for you. This is also a great time to project stability and strength.
As my long-time business advisor Ron Finkelstein said, “I’ve seen companies cut marketing in times of crisis and it’s the single biggest mistake they can make.”

Think Long-Term

It might be tempting to focus time and money into short-term sales and promotions. But for many businesses that’s either not an option or could result in long-term damage to their brand. Consider retailers like J. Crew and Banana Republic. During the Great Recession, they conditioned consumers to never-ending sales. Ten years later they continue to struggle to sell items at full price. For many of Hersh PR’s service-based business clients, offering discounts would immediately cheapen the brand. Right now, it’s wise to focus on brand-building initiatives that support your mission. Remember that clients will return and will be in need of your products and services.

Flex Your Creative Muscles

Over the past week, I’ve witnessed some incredibly creative marketing – virtual bingo on Instagram, video trainings and businesses supporting those out of work. Now is the time to flex your creative muscles. Try something you’ve been thinking about for ages but didn’t have the time to implement. Create the video you’ve been brainstorming, but perhaps held-off because you wanted the production value to be “perfect.” Leverage the resources you have and market heavily to your existing clients. They need, and probably want to hear from you.

Many organizations don’t know how to market during times of uncertainty.  If you have questions or want to discuss next steps, don’t hesitate to contact us.

*Generating action such as a phone call or a sale from potential clients will involve a level of healthy fear. For example, you can give clients a feeling of exclusivity without using doom and gloom.

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