In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing two very opposite approached when it comes to marketing. Some companies are cutting back on marketing, while others are rising to the challenge by coming up with refreshing ways of engaging with their audience during these complex times.

As a small business ourselves, we understand why companies cut down on their marketing activities; as uncertainty about how long the crisis will last can lead to conservative decision making. However, there is a balance that must be found between financial responsibility and the need to keep consumers up-to-date and engaged when things get tough.

In fact, studies have shown that during economic uncertainty the right approach is to increase – not decrease – your marketing spend; as you do not want to find yourself attempting to play catch up with your competitors when the economy takes an upswing.

Additionally, a recent study from the American Association of Advertising Agencies found that:

  • 43% of consumers find it reassuring to hear from brands
  • 56% said they like learning how brands are helping their communities during the pandemic
  • Only 15% said they would rather not hear from companies

With that being said, however, it is imperative that companies approach their marketing during these times with sensitivity. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to touch upon some best practices for marketing during and post-COVID-19.

Lead with empathy

During a global pandemic, the last thing any company or brand should be doing is thinking about themselves without concerning themselves with the wellbeing of consumers. The ability to empathize can positively affect everything from content creation to team management and when done correctly, it can help your marketing strike the right chord.

Share relevant and authentic stories and – if possible – pay it forward

By now you have certainly seen campaigns that speak to the reality of the pandemic. Brands have focused on everything from the courage of health care workers to the importance of social distancing. This creativity in story telling is great, but marketers should consider pushing their companies to do even more. This is the time to provide as much value as possible to your customers and communities, and that is done best by paying it forward.

Every organization and employee have the capacity to give back, they just need to ask themselves: “what can I/we do to help?”

While these efforts aren’t going to transform marketing or leads to increased sales immediately, they are effective in building goodwill and driving long-term loyalty.

Not to mention, giving back is simply the right thing to do.

Be flexible to the new normal

The reality is that the pandemic is going to have a long-term effect on the psyche and outlook of consumers. COVID-19 will forever change the consumer landscape and will create a new normal.

Companies are not going to be able to go back to their old playbooks. What used to work for you may very well be a plan of the past. Messages, personas, and strategies may need to evolve significantly for the post-COVID-19 world. Therefore, move forward with confidence, but understand the need to be flexible and embrace the new normal.  

While it is important to acknowledge the fears and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, it is also important that you do not let this pandemic keep you from progressing. Facilitating your team to truly understand your customers and encouraging them to act on timely insights is key to navigating your way through this crisis for your marketing team and your company.