How to run an effective marketing campaign during a crisis


No one alive has ever navigated a crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing. For business owners and marketers big and small, this is uncharted territory.

As the economy destabilizes, one wrong move could put your business at risk. Making the right marketing choices is more important than ever.

What are the right ways to react to a crisis? Do you cut costs, or pull out the stops?

Read on to learn how to plan a marketing campaign that doesn’t just keep you afloat but also gets real results during a crisis.

Don’t Cut Costs

First and foremost, never cut your marketing budget during a crisis. It might seem like a good idea to cut costs in this department, but every dollar you take away from your marketing budget will translate to fewer sales.

Is it really worth cutting costs if it comes at the expense of revenue? Even if ROI drops during a crisis, you need to keep brand awareness high or you’ll soon be cutting a lot more than the marketing budget.

Throw Logic Out the Window

Your gut tells you to be frugal during a crisis—and we just told you NOT to cut costs.

We know you’re sweating already, and we’re about to make things worse.

The most successful companies actually increase their marketing budget during a crisis. Why would they do this if consumers are spending less?

It’s because when an industry takes a nosedive, it’s much easier to capture market share. When the competition freezes up, cuts spending, or goes under, it presents opportunities that couldn’t exist when markets are healthy.

Reevaluate Daily

A crisis can drastically change the playing field in a matter of minutes. That means that you need to reevaluate your marketing efforts daily to make sure your money is well spent. Your team should be asking questions like:

  • Where is our target?
  • How has their attitude/outlook changed?
  • How has their income changed?
  • How have their needs changed?

One day, a relatively affluent target might be obsessed with toilet paper and basic needs. This might not be good news if you sell gourmet sparkling water. But the next day, unemployment benefits may be expanded by six months. If your team is reactive, you’ll be ready to take advantage of a boost in spending.

Beef Up Your Online Presence

You can count on one thing being easy during this crisis—your target will be easy to locate. They’re all online… and they’ll be spending record amounts of time in front of their screens.

This is good news for marketers, as they can focus their efforts on the online space. You should definitely do the following:

  • Boost ad spending on Google, Facebook, etc.
  • Devote manpower to maintaining relationships on social media
  • Take this time to start accounts on social media sites you don’t use
  • Update your blog
  • Do an SEO audit
  • Start a YouTube channel, make Stories on IG and FB, add video to your emails and landing pages (more on that next)

Don’t Forget What Works

You will need to be reactive and light on your feet to reign in your audience during a crisis, but don’t forget what works.

And when online marketing is the focus, what works is video content. Consumers prefer video to text, and they’ll be watching loads of it during a crisis.

This presents an amazing opportunity for small businesses. While many companies will be creating fewer videos due to social distancing limitations, lithe marketers can make affordable content using free stock video footage.

Free stock video footage can be downloaded, edited, and published without the need to gather a crew. And no equipment is necessary, so a small budget goes a long way.

Because stock footage is already filmed and ready to publish, it’s incredibly reactive. You can address your target with new videos daily while the competition goes silent.

Pamper Your Best Customers

Don’t focus on building your client base during a crisis. When consumer spending plummets, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

Instead, focus on pampering your loyal base. These customers will be the easiest to keep happy and the most likely to continue purchasing your products. Even if their income drops, a small push can keep them spending.

If your business is forced to close temporarily, keep in touch with your base with regular updates. This can be a good opportunity to introduce them to your team or engage in some goodwill marketing. And don’t forget to reward them with coupons or discounts to ensure they’ll come straight back once you open again.

Marketing effectively during a crisis isn’t easy, but it presents rare opportunities to marketers who aren’t afraid to wade into uncharted waters. Keep your marketing budget healthy and use the tips on this list to navigate a crisis successfully.