COVID-19: Adjusting your marketing activities to the challenging market situation

To help you face COVID-19, here is a checklist that can help structure your approach.

In most companies, marketing is a key business enabler and a prerequisite for a big part of your revenue. Cutting marketing completely in challenging times is therefore something you may regret later, as fuelling the business with demand grows more important than ever and changed market circumstances may also bring about new opportunities. 

Still, marketing represents big costs and a deep dive in activities, spend and key metrics is certainly called for. For Heads of Marketing, this is the time for adaptability – update your tactics and plans to help safeguard the business. 

Seize the opportunity to get in control!

What is normally important usually becomes doubly so in times of uncertainty. It’s about staying on top of your business and optimising planning and execution to support the business as best you can. Whilst being human does mean it’s not possible to be optimised at all times, seize this opportunity to get in control!

Keep calm. Be aware of your role as a leader and remember to take good care of your team. An unproductive and unfocused team is the last thing you need right now. Eventually, we are all in the “people business” and our people are our most precious asset.   

Marketing spend and planned costs. Start by pulling the breaks and get on top of your current spend and planned costs. Is everything still relevant and crucial? Which things should be cut right away and which things should be postponed?   

Internal events. Postpone all internal events, move them to an online format or cancel them before more costs occur.  

External events. Look at contracts on committed events and try to get out of the contracts. Don’t commit to new events.   

Reallocate time. Time saved could be spent on something else, either alternative branding / demand generation such as webinars or inventory activities that will help to boost your marketing when the situation changes.   

Ad spend. Consider stopping some of your ads and decrease daily ad spend for SEM, display and similar for the short run. Optimize as well as you can for the most relevant keywords.   

SEO. Full speed ahead – and consider to even devote more internal bandwidth to this if possible. You do not want to fall behind on SEO, and the best thing is it doesn’t cost you anything but time provided you have basic SEO skills and tools inhouse.    

Messaging. Revise all content and make sure it resonates under the current circumstances. Control for a worst-case scenario where you suffer brand damage, but remember that current circumstances can similarly offer optimisation potential to get your key messages across. Make sure to not overstep the line in your eagerness to be relevant and harness the situation.   

Agencies and freelancers. Consider putting on hold or downscaling external parties that you think are not crucial to boost revenue. Make sure it is clear what you are paying for, and what the value of those deliverables are. Maybe you can do more inhouse than you thought?   

Tools. This is a good time to review your marketing tech–stack. Is every tool in the box serving its purpose? Is there too much overlap? When do contracts renew?  

Campaigns and offers. Consider cutting or at least postponing campaigns or adjusting the creatives. Maybe you can offer something for free with the goal of getting in new doors and then plan for a sell around the next corner.   

SoMe. After a short-term pause during the initial phase with shock and misfocus, consider keeping up organic posts and take an extra round to quality assure sponsored content.   

Email Marketing. The same thing goes for email marketing. Consider timing and content, but otherwise it’s business as usual once the situation has stabilised.   

Marketing planning. When you are on top of your most pressing issues, spend time planning for more normal times! Have a look at your marketing strategy and tactical plan. Maybe this is also the time to do some thinking around roles, processes and set-up in your team?   

Analytics. You don’t have to be a data scientist to get access to data and work with it. Take the opportunity to do some work you normally do not get to. Maybe there is gold yet to be discovered just a few clicks away? 

Alignment. Be sure to align and get buy-in for your changes with the rest of the management team.