No one yet knows all the impacts COVID-19 will have on the economy or small businesses. One thing is certain – businesses must be agile to mitigate the impact of this public health emergency. This means, rethinking your marketing efforts to make them more relevant.

History has shown us that even when times are uncertain, people don’t completely stop spending. They simply look for better bargains. When companies slow or stop their ad spending, they disappear from the consumer’s mind. Consumers can begin to doubt the brand and perceive it as weak or fading, therefore often gravitating to the competitor who is maintaining or increasing their ad spending. Now is an opportunity for brands to project to consumers the image of corporate stability during challenging times.

As a popular adage says, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.”

Be Empathetic

Change your messaging temporarily to be more empathetic to what your customers might be going through and connect emotionally with your audience to build confidence in your brand. Reassuring messages that reinforce an emotional connection with the brand and demonstrate empathy (for example, by conveying a sense that “we’re going to get through this together”) are vital to bolstering trust.

  • Keep up to date with what’s happening and adjust your communications strategy accordingly
  • Anticipate changes in your customer’s behavior, offer relevant policy changes and shift with evolving needs (ex: Airlines offering no charge cancellation fees)

Increase Your Share of Voice

Add Frequency to improve sales & market share. Your competitors might be slowing down their advertising, quieting the noise in the market. Keeping your ads going keeps your name in front of customers, shows you are strong, increases your market voice, builds your market share, and also boosts sales. When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share often results in an increase in profits.

In the 1990-91 recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to drop its advertising and promotion budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.

Be Helpful

Show people the value of your good or service and how useful it is to them. Communicate with your customers on how you can help them solve a problem during this time. Know your brand and how it can be useful; how can you lead by example and do the right thing?

  • If you have useful tips to make things easier during self-quarantine, make it known by communicating it to your customers.
  • People are spending more time at Do you have something that could help them pass the time?
  • Do you have a home service that could help them with their honey-do list?
  • Maybe you have a good or service that people have more time to address such as car maintenance or repairs.
  • People are cancelling vacations and outings, so they could invest that money in a good or service they actually need.

Reach out to those people with the right message and be a brand that helps them.

Offer Price Incentives

Offer price cuts, discounts or promotions. Give people a good deal. Pricing can go back to normal after this pandemic passes. The average customer is unsure of the economic future and does not want to spend a lot of money. Make it easier for them to buy your products or service by communicating how much they will save.

Focus on Loyalty

It’s more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional—it’s a “good cost,” essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others.

Moral of the story

Spend wisely but spend more during these tough times and you can catapult ahead of your competition. Be sure to fight the urge to recoil and circle your financial wagons. Don’t cut your marketing budgets, and don’t stop advertising. You can’t sell something if no one knows it’s for sale.

It doesn’t have to end here.

Let’s chat about how we can navigate this event together. 

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