Marketing During COVID-19 And Why It Shouldn’t All Be Doom And Gloom


“In these uncertain times…”

Stop and think about how often you’ve heard that particular phrase uttered in the past 8 weeks. It’s seemingly in every television commercial, emblazoned on billboards across the country, and even pops up on Hulu when you’re just trying to drown your sorrows in your umpteenth episode of 90-Day Fiance.

It has, quite frankly, become the laziest approach to marketing in the (hopefully short-lived) Coronavirus era. There are boundless ways to effectively market your brand without resorting to stating the obscenely obvious. Imagine putting your entire quarterly budget into a campaign that announced to the audience that “each day has 24 hours in it.” That may not be the most effective message to help stand out in a meaningful way. So ask yourself, in these uncertain times, how can I advertise during COVID-19 while still showing due reverence to the gravity of the situation?

Be As Transparent As Possible

Transparency goes beyond letting your audience know that you are supporting first-responders and medical workers during this pandemic. More than ever, consumers are asking for companies to show them the receipts of their altruism. You need to be specific.

Three weeks before Cinco de Mayo, Dos Hombres, the mezcal brand owned by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, announced that it would be increasing its proceeds to the U.S. Bartender’s Guild from a generous 30% to a full 100%. 

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Hi everyone, We hope that you and your family are doing well and managing as best you can during this crisis. Recently we announced that Dos Hombres would be donating 30% of proceeds of all online sales to the United States Bartender's Guild through May 1st. During these uncertain times we need to come together and help each other – now more than ever. Starting today until May 5th, Dos Hombres will be donating 100% of our proceeds on all online sales to the Bartender’s Guild, the Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, and America's Food Fund. Please take a look at these worthy organizations at the link in bio. Thank you. Stay home and stay well. Good spirits will get us through. – Dos Hombres

A post shared by Dos Hombres (@doshombres) on

Sales of the mezcal took off as online word of mouth spread and customers felt that they were helping their fellows while also getting a bottle of alcohol in the process. It’s a win-win.

Smaller businesses have the opportunity to get even more open with their customers, not only about how they’re contributing in charitable ways but also how they in-turn are relying on their communities for support.

Serranos, an Austin-based restaurant group has been very transparent with their regular customers on not only how they’re working to support their employees, but also how much they rely on the continued support of their patrons to stay in business.

Be honest, open, and fair with your audience during these challenging COVID-19 times. Shirk away from hiding behind vague promises and statements of being “in this together” without concrete evidence and plans for supporting those who need it. Above all, don’t just make it a temporary strategy pivot. Honesty, it should remain a top policy in your marketing strategy well into the future.

We’re All Sharing The Same Experiences

When was the last time the overwhelmingly vast majority of your audience was more or less going through the same daily experience? With millions of families still responsibly practicing social distancing, many of us have found ourselves spending a lot of time at home, trying to keep our families and ourselves entertained.

Part of that is naturally spending more time on social media. Impressions and engagement across social media platforms have risen tremendously over the past few months, with audience sentiment toward small and independently-owned businesses higher than ever before. While the urge to cease all social media posts until the dust settles maybe the easier road to take, you’d be missing out on a chance to really connect with your audience and build upon it!

Now is the time for brands to double-down on social media to build relationships with new and existing customers. Whether you’re just now getting started with social media or you’re seasoned but trying to navigate this new landscape, this Free 2020 Social Media Marketing Guide will help you develop the right strategy solution.

Community Management is the oft-forgotten step-child of a hardy social media strategy. Now more than ever, take the time to engage your audience beyond promotional campaigns. If it makes sense to your brand, simply ask them how they’re feeling, what they’re doing to keep busy, or even just be available to answer any questions they may have to provide extremely powerful touchpoints that they won’t forget for some time. If they’re not financially or physically able to support your business now, they likely will when situations improve.

According to Envision Creative’s Founder and CEO, David Smith:

“When the standard practices of everyday business no longer apply, it’s time to throw out the rule book and look for new ways to achieve your marketing goals. This includes finding new ways to get in front of your audience. Identify your target personas and understand what challenges they are facing in uncertain times. 

How can you, as a brand, be there to help solve problems and be a contributing member of your community? These are the times’ everyone comes together for the greater good and your brand will be recognized for being a part of that initiative. People support brands that support people. Consider this not only as a public service but also as a brand awareness campaign that illustrates your added value so you remain top-of-mind once the times of uncertainty are over and normal buying habits begin to resume.”

Don’t Change Your Whole Personality

The mood right now is definitely more somber than it was mere months ago, but that doesn’t mean you need to market in a radically different tone.

Companies with an already strong brand identity are sticking to their guns online and off, by doubling down on their sarcasm and humor. The now-notorious Wendy’s account is still serving up takes as spicy as their chicken nuggets, while Moonpie continues to be just as bizarre and self-aware as it has been for years.

If it makes sense, consider not radically altering your social strategy. Obviously, content needs to be tweaked to be a little more sensitive to the current situation, but a light-hearted and fun brand shouldn’t don a black veil suddenly. Continuing to serve up smiles to your audience will be more beneficial to everyone involved, including your campaign metrics.

At The End Of The Day, Be Human

At the end of the day, what people are searching for is another human to connect with. It’s difficult to make a large corporation or even a small business comprised of a dozen people seem like an individual, but if you take the above recommendations to heart, I believe your brand will be able to come out of this with a more supportive community rallied around it, ready to hit the ground running with a return to normalcy.

Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy

Has your business been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis? Envision Creative Strategists want to lend a helping hand, Free of Charge. For a limited time, we’re offering free 1-hour marketing consultation and a customized marketing action plan to help companies effectively manage through the crisis, keep revenue up, and costs down.

Schedule your free marketing consultation today and stay safe!


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