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Should You Market During the COVID-19 Crisis? Heck Yes

Don’t change your marketing strategy, just your messaging.

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THIS IN NO way is a self-serving article. I know. You might be growling. But the truth is there is more to marketing than naturally meets the eye. It’s not your marketing strategy that should change. For the short-term, it’s your messaging. And, there is certainly more you can do to strengthen your business.

The knee-jerk reaction is to pull back. But, if your long-term strategy is to be top-of-mind and create awareness, why would this situation change that strategy? Unless you are doing a direct call to action (which most brand advertising is not), then this is simply a blip on the advertising spectrum. Unless you are shutting down your factory for many, many months, as of now, you are still in business. So, what you need to do, is focus on what I call Marketing Plus. Staying the course on what you have planned and ratcheting it up a little with some other smart endeavors.

True, you’re seeing some of your customers shutting down their stores and reducing hours. Most are doing this for a limited time. We don’t have any idea how long this will last. You probably should listen to the worst scenario and best scenario and select something in-between. And, not to be cynical, but let’s face it, in an election year, both sides are going to want to get COVID-19 cleaned up sooner than later. For that one politically driven thought, we can be happy.

Are you attending JCK, LUXURY, COUTURE, or any other trade show? The shows have simply been postponed and will most likely be rescheduled soon. Think of this as extra time to communicate your message with added opportunities to think about ways to drive customers your booth.

What you should consider:

  • Contact your marketing firm or call your marketing team together (by phone conference) to brainstorm some immediate messaging that can be sent to your customers. If you have B-to-B digital presence, you can get this implemented quickly. If you have print insertions in trade publications, create a Plan B creative strategy that can run in the next insertion if the situation is the same or worse. But for now, you should leave your print creative as is.
  • Get your marketing team together and develop ideas and programs you can provide your customers! What are some things you can do to stand out from your competition? Develop some over-the-top service strategies. And yes, not only let your customers know, but use your current advertising vehicles to communicate what you are doing so prospects will get a chance to see how progressive you really are! If anything would give them a reason to use you over your competition, coming up with something special would do it! But you need to advertise it and shout it from the rooftops. Which is why you should also not cut back your marketing.
  • Contact your retail customers and offer some great product training via webinar. They have the time and they are looking for content to engage their employees. Consider offering a training incentive to their employees. OR better yet, surprise them afterwards with a small token of your appreciation for participating ala a $10 Starbucks Gift Card.
  • Develop a retail store promotion or event that will drive traffic to their store once this situation is over – and drive more product sales for you! Create retailer materials during this off -time while you are slower to promote the event such as Emails, Direct Mail, Social posts, Video etc.
  • Create an internal design contest. Your employees may be worried about lay-offs, earning less etc. And, now is a great time to get the entire company engaged in something fun! You can have a few trusted external advisors judge or do a silent ballot. The winner receives some sort of bonus/spiff and you can create the new design and perhaps name it after them!

The worst thing you can do is to simply stop. Things will be back to normal in a relatively short amount of time. And, seize some of these opportunities. They will make you stronger and a better company. And, although you have heard this a million times over the last few weeks, there is nothing truer: We will all get through this!

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Ellen Fruchtman is founder and president of Fruchtman Marketing. Contact her at (800) 481-3520, or sign up for a free weekly newsletter at fruchtman.com.

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