Marketing in the time of Covid-19: our small business thoughts
We didn’t want to write this guidepost. First, there’s the obvious reason: the fact that we even need to write it means that a lot of people are suffering, and worse. Our hearts are breaking.
We also didn’t want to write it because of the sheer blizzard of communications from every last company that we ever gave our email to about how they are responding to the pandemic. One of our core tenets is that doing what everyone else is doing is a really good way to not stand out of the crowd. In other words, a marketing no-no. Bad idea.
But we’re doing it because many of our clients are struggling with decisions right now: should we communicate to our customers? What should we say? Should we promote something? Should we stop all marketing altogether?
So here are our thoughts. With, of course, the caveat that these thoughts are for the world situation as we know it on March 20, 2020. This all could change as the situation shifts. These are also just our thoughts, based on past experience. We highly encourage you to go with your gut, since nobody really has the roadmap for this.
On no account do anything that seems like you’re profiting from a global pandemic (i.e. celebrating the fact that human misery is helping your company). Do not offer a Covid-19 sale, unless your target audience is made up of anarchist #$%ers. Even then, please don’t. And don’t jump all over communicating why you’re better than your competition at weathering global suffering.
If your customers may have a legitimate question about how/whether your business is still functioning, a customer-facing email and social media posts are a good idea. If you’re unlikely to be much affected by the situation (say, us here at Urban Sherpa, since we work virtually the majority of the time), then you probably don’t need to clutter up people’s inboxes with more announcements at this time.
If there’s something related to your business that you can safely do to help your customers, employees, and/or your community, consider doing it, especially if it comes from a place of honestly wanting to help. And it’s absolutely fine to share that with the world.
Whether you continue to advertise or not will depend entirely on your business and your industry. If you sell a product online, for instance, now is actually an excellent time to bump up your ad spend. Lots of people are stuck at home, a little stressed, with nothing to do; they are gonna shop (again, do not offer a pandemic sale, just use your normal value propositions). If you’re closed because of restrictions on your industry, you probably don’t want to spend ad dollars, but now is a really great time to up your social media game and maintain contact with your customers. I’ve seen several yoga studios do a really great job of this.
That said, we don’t think you should make any huge marketing investments right now (yeah, we’re a marketing company saying that). Play it conservative until you know where the crisis and the economy is heading. But also resist the urge to freeze up in fear. There is nothing as detrimental to getting customers in the door as cutting off all marketing efforts. Be smart. We’re probably in for a really tough time for a lot of small businesses, and it may be a longer time than we’d like. Think for the long term.
Last, do what feels right to your brand (your promise to your customers) and your business. You are not required to put out a statement about Covid-19 at all, you know. Unless your normal marketing tone could come across as insensitive, you can honestly just keep on with your normal marketing activities. Again, trust your gut.
As things continue to change and shift, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, give you our two cents on what you should do, or just act as your sounding board, whether you’re a client or not. Just reach out and we can set up a time to chat.
As always, happy small business marketing.
Stay safe and healthy, friends,
Katie & Theron
At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and services for small business and startups, including content marketing. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline.
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