How Marketers Can Overcome the Covid-19 Challenge & Thrive

How Marketers Can Overcome the Covid-19 Challenge & Thrive

Shane Barker 02/07/2021
How Marketers Can Overcome the Covid-19 Challenge & Thrive

Marketers should incorporate agile principles, humanize their business and address customers’ priorities, or else risk losing touch.

With the virus spreading exponentially and the death toll increasing by the day, the economies of affected countries have been adversely impacted.

This has affected both businesses and marketers on an unprecedented scale. Marketing budgets are being cut down, businesses are closing shop, creating business continuity plans, and more.

This is the worst business shutdown of the last decade and it has affected our digital marketing community as well. I myself am sitting at home like millions of others and thinking of ways to deal with the crisis both as a marketer and as an individual.

As individuals, all that we can do is stay at home.

But as marketers, we can do a lot more.

We can inform people, spread awareness, engage with our audiences, or simply be there for them in their time of need.

Want to know how businesses have been impacted by this pandemic and what we, as marketers, can do in these uncertain times? Read on to find out.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses in General

The coronavirus outbreak has adversely affected businesses worldwide. The stock market performance in all regions has seen a continued downfall trend.

Overall, the entire business world is suffering and most companies are barely surviving by implementing business continuity plans.

The Current Sentiment: How Are Businesses and Marketers Responding?

Due to the ongoing crisis there has been a cross-industry freeze in spending by businesses, especially those that are hit hard.

Given that most businesses are suffering from losses, it is understandable that they are cutting their spending in all areas. This, unfortunately, also includes their advertising and marketing spends.

But, is that the best way to deal with the situation?

We think not.

Let’s find out what you should do in the next section.

The Better Alternative

While it may seem counterintuitive to spend on marketing in this time of crisis, it is actually the best time to invest in digital marketing.

With most people working from home and being extremely active online and on social media, digital marketing is the best way to reach a much larger audience.

People, in general, are spending more time online to stay updated about the current happenings.

Media and news websites, social media platforms, etc. are the most frequented online platforms for people dealing with this crisis. People are looking for all sorts of content resources to stay informed and be ready to deal with the situation.

In such a scenario, when the whole world is flocking to social media and online resources, it makes sense for businesses and marketers to try to win their attention. After all, why would you spend less on digital marketing when the whole world is online now more than ever?

Pro Tip: Check out my podcast with Mark Schaefer to learn how your business can cope up with this Coronavirus crisis.

What Brands Should Do in the Times of Coronavirus? Effective Coronavirus Marketing Tactics

Here are some of the marketing ideas in which you can continue your digital marketing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Show Empathy

The first and most important rule for you to follow is to show empathy and be responsible.

Do not create or publish content that spreads fear or causes more panic. This is a time of crisis and you need to be empathetic to the situation and this should reflect in all of your marketing communications.

If your marketing seems insensitive or provocative at all, it could do irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation. Marketing in the time of coronavirus needs to be responsible and useful for your audience and people in general.

One way in which you can show empathy is by helping out in this time of need, thus, winning people’s respect and trust.

Take the example of Loom Videos, for instance. They provide video-conferencing services that enable people to work and collaborate remotely.

In this time of crisis, most people are working from home and would require such services. So they slashed their prices and expanded the scope of their free plan to help people do that.


Image Source Loom Videos

This is something that you can replicate for your business. Provide free service, extended trials, and discounted prices during the Coronavirus crisis and win people over.

Moreover, this will also help you get more customers, so it’s a win-win for everyone. So, come up with lucrative offers and promote these across channels to benefit as many people as you can.

PRO TIP: Use social media to promote your offers as people are extra-active there in these times.

2. Start an Awareness Campaign

One brilliant way of continuing marketing during the coronavirus pandemic is to start an awareness campaign. What this entails is spreading useful information about the crisis and how to deal with it.

The aim of such campaigns is to inform people about the severity of the situation and to urge them to not take it lightly.

Here’s an example of a coronavirus awareness marketing campaign started by ViacomCBS:


Image via Instagram

They are using the hashtag #AloneTogether to spread awareness about social distancing and the importance of staying at home during this crisis.

PRO TIP: Hashtags are the best way to promote your awareness campaigns, so, create a hashtag and use it to reach more people.

Want to know more such effective marketing tactics that work even during the coronavirus pandemic?

3. Double Your Budget For SEO

Again, this might seem counterintuitive to a few of you but is actually a brilliant marketing strategy.

Investing in SEO now, when everyone else is slashing their SEO budgets, will give you a competitive edge later.

This is a good time to build backlinks by writing guest posts on current and relevant topics. Strengthen your backlink profile while your competitors are waiting for the crisis to end.

Also, improve your technical and on-page SEO and utilize your time working from home. Use the extra time that you have now to work on SEO and reap the results later.

Wondering why you should do it?

Well, it will give you a strong push ahead of your competitors. When all of this is over, and yes it will end… then you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.

PRO TIP: You can also use this time to conduct that SEO audit that you’ve been procrastinating doing for a while.

4. Create and Share Valuable Content Resources

When it comes to marketing during the coronavirus pandemic, content marketing is your best bet. The demand for useful content resources related to the outbreak is very high as people are turning to online resources for help.

This is a perfect time to create different types of content on the topic and share it on multiple channels. The kind of content could range from informative blog posts to “how-to” videos on precautionary measures.

Basically, anything that tells informs people about:

  • What’s going on in the world
  • How to deal with it

Here’s an example of how Google has created one such useful resource for preventing the spread of coronavirus:


Image via Instagram

It is a simple infographic that provides useful information on the precautionary measures that should be taken during this time. This is an excellent example of responsible coronavirus marketing that you can take inspiration from.

Also, try to customize the content to make it relevant to your target audience and industry.

For example, if you’re in the fitness industry, you can provide resources on working out from home as people are avoiding going to the gym. Businesses in the food industry can provide resources like “easy recipes to try at home” given that people are quarantined at home.

You get the general idea, right?

Whatever industry you’re in, think of things that might help your target customer segment. And, don’t make such content promotional, otherwise, you will lose credibility.

Think of this as a long-term marketing strategy and not a short-term one. You need to win your prospective customers’ trust in this time of crisis and this will be beneficial later.

Don’t try to sell. Try to help.

Here’s another example of brilliant coronavirus marketing from the brand Airbnb:


Image via Airbnb

They created an exhaustive list of travel advisories to various regions for their customers and hosts.

PRO TIP: Create content that is relevant to your niche and directly helps your customers in their time of need.

5. Try to Diffuse the Situation with Humor

These are terrible times and there is a palpable sense of fear and panic worldwide. Everyone is scared and looking for ways to deal with the situation in the best possible manner.

This has led to a slew of memes related to coronavirus on various social media platforms. The purpose of these is not to be insensitive to the situation but try to diffuse it and make people laugh.

You can use a similar strategy and use humor to give people hope and make them smile in this time of crisis. However, be very careful and ensure that your posts are not insensitive or offensive.

Take this post by POPxo Wedding, for example. They have used humor while also addressing the current situation and posting about something relevant to their niche.


Image via Instagram

PRO TIP: Simply repost memes by adding a nice caption if you don’t want to invest time into creating posts from scratch.

6. Invest in  Social Media Marketing

Everyone these days is flocking to social media platforms to get the latest updates and see what’s going on around the world. People are getting together on social media while practicing social distancing in real life.

This is the best time to invest in social media marketing as you will get more reach and engagement than ever before. Instead of cutting your social media marketing budget, you need to increase it.

What better time to share social media posts than when people are most active, right?

Take Marvel Entertainment, for example. The movie industry has taken a big hit as cinemas have shut down, but that hasn’t stopped the company from remaining active on social media.

On Instagram, they post once or twice a day. Lately, most of their posts have promoted their comic books and online games.

Additionally, they are also asking their comic readers to opt for safe purchasing options for the latest comic books.


Image via Instagram

So, invest in social media marketing and increase your frequency of sharing posts and stories.

PRO TIP: Find innovative ways to connect with your audience on social media, even if business-as-usual has stopped.

7. Start a Challenge That Encourages Positive Behavior

WHO started the “Safe Hands Challenge” where it encouraged people to wash their hands the right way. They did that by collaborating with influencers like Alisson Becker and Natalia Becker.

The challenge became viral and soon people started posting videos of themselves following the WHO guidelines for washing their hands.

The hashtag that they started #safehands already has over 46K posts. Most of these show people washing their hands the right way and encourage others to do the same.


Image via Instagram

You can participate in existing challenges like these and show your support or start a new challenge. This could be a part of a broader marketing campaign that starts a conversation about coronavirus, while also marketing your brand.

Go through all the precautionary measures suggested by WHO and other authorities and come up with your own ideas for a social media challenge.

If there’s one thing that we can say with absolute certainty it is that challenges have a way of going viral. And, in times like these when coronavirus is all that people are talking about, these might do especially well.

PRO TIP: Use influencers to participate in your challenge and promote it to their followers.

Ready to Overcome the Coronavirus Challenge?

We are facing one of the biggest crises of our lifetimes and this has hit businesses hard. However, all is not lost.

While the coronavirus outbreak has forced people to stay in their homes, it has also caused an increase in the amount of time people spend online. Therefore, it is a good time to invest in digital marketing to reap long-term benefits.

So, use these tips and start your coronavirus marketing campaign right now.

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Shane Barker

Digital Strategy Expert

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the Co-Founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

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