Marketing During Uncertain Times

Written by Raychel Espiritu 

With all that is going on right now, it's critical to be sensitive during these times - we share some guidance in launching new marketing campaigns right now.

This is not business as usual.

To help you make wise decisions during trying times, Social Media Examiner tapped the minds of top marketers. This is a time to truly be of service. 

Costanoa Ventures Webinar also provided plenty of feedback on how to market during uncertain times. It’s time to turn off standard nurture campaigns, time to slow the momentum, pull back and make sure your brand is not being overly promotional.

Lots of great companies had growth during downturns and ended up thriving beyond: Airbnb, Github, Pinterest, Slack, Square, Uber, WhatsApp. Look at their early beginnings for key takeaways. Success leaves clues.

Optimize everything you say around how you can help existing customers or how you meet their needs.

Focus on your fundamental value proposition to customers. What exactly is your product doing that really offers value? Time to dial in on how to do that better. 

Be optimistic, but pragmatic and authentic. Humanity really shines. This is how you stand out when everyone is doing digital; the quality of your execution. 

What is your position in the market? If you can’t answer this, time to hit the pause button. If this is now unclear, then time to reassess.

If you haven't already, then this is the time to build community and foster deeper relationships with your customers and maybe even your competitors. Where can you create collaborative opportunities?

Look for ways you can be of service. Consider generous pricing models, deferred payment plans, or pay-what-you-can-afford options.

Be different - keep the energy light, be optimistic, be happy, use memes, ask me anything sessions vs. webinar. 

How we need to be rethinking marketing/sales alignment? What does my marketing and sales pipeline look like? Marketing and sales need to be extremely well aligned right now. If they’re not, it’s time to tighten that up.

It’s also time to shift your content strategy for each social media platform. How you engage on your Facebook page might look different than Facebook groups; maybe more Facebook live videos? If your audience is on Instagram, use Instagram Live to share your story and position.

This is also a time to lean into video for your ad campaigns. Lean into video for improving the power of your message on your landing/squeeze pages.

Marketing = bring heart and authenticity to your brand.

Sales = make it personal, highly directed and targeted.

Adapt value proposition to match shifting market and industry trends. Look at big brands and study their messaging - what can you borrow, what should you leave out?

Make sure you are not tone deaf or insensitive.  

Focus on your existing customers to make them your strongest advocates / referral base.

Focus on existing customer base first - retention is extremely important since it is easier than getting a new one right now.

Build trust. Instill confidence that you’re not going anywhere even in this tumultuous time. Make sure they’re feeling the value of your product.

How to delicately cold-outreach into accounts? It’s time to scrap typical automated nurture campaigns. Instead, run more targeted tests, messages, tactics. Demand is easiest from existing customers versus new so focus on your existing customers. Make them the primary way in which people hear about you. Reach out to customer advisory councils, design partners, groups of advocates in whatever shape you have them. Nurture those relationships that might lead to organic referrals.

There probably won’t be in person events for a while. What are the digital channels marketing teams should try?

Social media - consistently engage in existing channels and conversations; leverage them. Here are some ways you can create some authentic and engaging content:

  • Take a survey and create the results in a white paper
  • Create a podcast or create a list of relevant podcasts
  • Create a webinar create a list of relevant webinars
  • Deliver virtual meals by sending gift cards
  • Live Q&A on Facebook or Instagram. AMAs. 
  • Document best practices of existing customers--not just of your product--and share out.

Get clarity on objectives and expectations from the leadership team. Questions to ask: What do you want us to do? What can you stop doing? Make sure expectations are aligned with what capabilities and budget you have and this is communicated to your team. Everyone on the marketing team should be aware of what the plan is.

Go directly to your customers or prospects and check in with them to see if and how they are affected. How can you help?

Tone is everything right now.

Better to be genuinely helpful and not at all promotional. 

How will this crisis affect the future of marketing?

Hope it makes everyone much better at marketing - better at execution and quality of what you do to stand out. Hope it makes people less promotional and more authentic.

People will get better at ‘sideways’ marketing - don’t market yourself directly, but market the things that customers care about in the moment with something genuinely helpful. Do this as regular business versus just in times of crisis.

Again, this is not business as usual. Be more human. Be kind. And if your brand has a hard time doing that, then maybe you should rethink your brand.


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