How to market during the COVID-19 crisis and the recession it brings.

How to market during the covid 19 crisis and the recession it brings.
How to market during the covid 19 crisis and the recession it brings.
How to market during the covid 19 crisis and the recession it brings.

Amid unprecedented fear, anxiety and uncertainty, small businesses may think it’s time to pause their marketing.

Not so fast.

Marketing and branding experts say this is the time to strategically continue investing in marketing, yet the messaging needs to shift for the coronavirus recession we are entering.

Dan Grech, BizHack
Dan Grech, BizHack

“Marketing is about meeting your customer where they are,” says Dan Grech, founder of BizHack, a Miami-based digital marketing training academy that trained more than 100 entrepreneurs last year in 12-week cohorts. But with COVID-19, “people now have completely changed their behavior overnight,” he said. “Your marketing must change with it.”

Now is not the time for the hard sell.

You need to communicate with customers in ways that are helpful to them, Grech said during a free Webinar he offered the community. “Businesses not able to do business right now doesn’t mean you should not be communicating with your target customers. Think about what they need.”

“Things will come back, but not the way they were,” said Bruce Turkel, a branding expert, speaker and author who shared more wisdom about marketing in recessionary times in a second BizHack webinar. “Business as usual is now business as unusual. The new normal will become the normal,” Turkel added.

“What we need to do right now is to stop worrying and start planning.”

Recessionary Psychology

Let’s start with a little knowledge of recession psychology.

During the Great Recession in 2009, Harvard Business Review wrote about marketing during a recession (coincidently, one of the authors of the HBR report was UM’s Business Dean John Quelch). “Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession,” the article says.

Turkel referred to the research in his remarks. In recessionary times, you need to think of your customers among the four kinds of recessionary buyers: the slam-on-the-breaks consumers who do nothing; the pained but patient group who are suffering but are generally optimistic; the comfortably well off who are selectively purchasing, in a less conspicuous way; and finally the live for today group, the HBR authors found. Read more.

About Nancy Dahlberg

Nancy Dahlberg is an award-winning business writer, editor and researcher, with a passion for covering entrepreneurs and what makes them tick. As host of the Florida SBDC at FIU’s GrowBiz blog, she aims to provide inspirational, educational and useful articles for growth-stage small businesses. She can be reached at GrowBiz@FIU.EDU. Follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg

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