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Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

Shortly after most of North America and Europe went into lockdown – shelter-in-place, stay-at-home orders, call it what you want – we were approached by a client who wanted to know if it was worthwhile or even appropriate to keep telling their stories and getting marketing messages out. It’s a good question, and it still comes up. It’s really asking whether the human suffering that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic deserves to be recognized with a break from the base activities of commerce — a moment of silence, if you will, much like what happened after 9/11.

I think what we witnessed actually was a moment of silence that sort of happened naturally  and lasted about a week, during which time we saw few messages going out, and people trying to figure out how they were going to work and communicate under the restrictions being put in place.

We’re more than a month into a totally disrupted personal and business environment, and it’s time to take a deep breath, if you haven’t already, and get back to real work. People are exhausted by the constant drumbeat of coronavirus news, and your marketing messages provide a measure of normalcy that people yearn for right now.

And now that you’re getting your marketing ramped back up, or maybe you never slowed down, the question is what kind of marketing you should be doing, because it’s not the same world. There are no face-to-face meetings, no travel, no trade shows. Webinars have become the go-to tool. Your end users are mostly sitting at home with extra time on their hands, so webinars are a welcome distraction, especially if they’re educational. And podcasts too, because often people enjoy and are able to just listen while doing other things.

You probably had mapped out some kind of buyer’s journey of a typical customer that you used in your normal course of business, but how has that buyer’s journey changed in the Time of Coronavirus? There is no normal right now.

We’re spending a lot of time with clients talking through these issues and re-examining their buyer’s journey. If you have customers that can no longer do productions, for instance, and are therefore highly unlikely to be investing in new gear right now, how do you stay engaged with them so that you are top of mind when we come out of this? Because we are going to come out of it; there is no doubt. And the companies that persevere and thrive are going to be the ones that don’t slow down now; they’ll be the ones that experiment with new messaging vehicles, the ones that continue to build their sales pipelines even while actual sales orders are slowed.

We know this to be true because it’s the way it has always been, through every downturn in modern history. Keep pushing your messages out there. And stay safe, stay strong.