How to market your business after COVID-19

The pandemic changed how companies market themselves, which may create an opportunity for small businesses to stand out. Coming up with a strong marketing plan now can set you up for success well into the future.

This isn’t marketing as usual

As you think about your post-COVID-19 marketing plan, take stock of the way businesses — large and small — changed their advertising at the start of the COVID crisis.

63%

of companies changed their messaging.1

74%

of companies posted less social content.2

68%

of companies expected to spend less on ads.3

Action: Pay attention to how your industry’s approach to marketing may have changed and how customers reacted to advertising campaigns during the pandemic.

Revise your message

An effective message acknowledges changes in consumer behavior. Since habits are continually changing, your message should, too.

Actions to take…

Offer basic information to keep customers up to date on how your business is changing.

Build goodwill via customer-centric products and services, as well as through relevant content.

Acknowledge customer concerns, especially if your customers might be facing health or financial issues.

… and to avoid

Don’t go too far off brand; it can come across fake. Make sure any mention of the crisis and recovery feels natural.

Don’t make light of the crisis. It’s tempting to celebrate a return to normalcy, but it’s important to remember the serious nature of the pandemic.

Adjust your tactics

How you distribute your message should account for the fact that people began spending more time at home checking email and social media during the crisis. These habits are unlikely to change in the near future.

Actions to take…

Widen your target: With more people researching products, you don’t want to miss an opportunity by casting a narrow net.

Go to them: Choose the placement of ads (e.g., TV, social media or print) based on your clients’ changing lifestyles.

Create a connection: Many people missed the feeling of interacting with others during the crisis. Lean into the desire to connect as a way to engage (potential) customers.

… and to avoid

Don’t push a purchase, which can feel aggressive — especially when people are already stressed. Instead, focus on brand awareness.

Don’t use negative ads. Americans want to help (all) small businesses rebuild, so keep up the community feel.

Stay invested

Evaluate your marketing budget and get strategic. Spend smarter by using metrics to track the success of your efforts.

Actions to take…

Establish a baseline by looking at your marketing pre-COVID. How much did you spend, and what were your results?

Set a marketing budget that makes sense by looking at cash flow and current ad rates.

Note the lessons from COVID. The unusual circumstances may have provided insights into your customers’ habits and preferences that you may have missed during crisis mode. Reflect and record any observations.

… and to avoid

Don’t ignore the future. Think about how your customers and industry are settling into a “new normal” so you can create a lasting strategy.

Don’t be too strict about “success”. It’s important to measure “soft” wins, like creating more awareness for your business.

People need products and services as much as ever, but your marketing needs to feel different than it did pre-crisis. Look for opportunities by thinking about how marketing can help you find and engage customers.

1. Coronavirus Ad Spend Impact: Buy-Side, Interactive Advertising Bureau, March 27, 2020
2,3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Marketing & Ad Spend Impact: Report + Stats, Influencer Marketing Hub, June 16, 2020