27 Apr 2020 Strategies

How to market a small business in times of crisis

Since the COVID-19 outbreak that’s now sweeping the globe, the reactions from businesses have ranged from ‘business as usual’ to a panicked halt on marketing activity. For those who can continue operating and trading, there has been much confusion about how to proceed, particularly in terms of what is acceptable and what isn’t.  

Our advice is: If you can keep operating, then do so. People still need products and services, and businesses still need people to buy. 

‘Business as usual’ is virtually impossible but, by adapting your marketing strategy, it’s possible to continue working and to be successful in doing so.  

Yes, it is possible to market a small business in times of crisis.

Marketing in times of crisis [4 actionable ideas]

1. Put your audience at the heart of your marketing 

What your audience wants and needs has probably altered significantly over the last few weeks. Before you adapt any of your marketing activity, review how the demands for your products and services have changed. For example, a clothes retailer could focus on loungewear, or a restaurant could adapt to sell takeaways.  

Your messaging should also reflect how your audience is feeling. Be conscious of how the pandemic might be affecting their daily lives and focus on helping them with any challenges they might be facing.  

2. Make the most of social media 

The scroll has not stopped. In fact, the past month has seen a 25% increase in Instagram and TikTok engagement as well as a 72% increase on advertising content by influencers.  

We should point out that while sticking by your social media channels is a great marketing choice, that does not mean it should be business as usual. The situation is constantly evolving, and your content should too. Review your messaging and imagery continually so it’s always relevant and sensitive.  

3. Adapt and innovate 

The internet is full of examples where people have adapted their business models to face the challenges of an isolated world. Just look at Joe Wicks, the personal trainer-turned virtual children’s PE teacher. Whether you love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny he’s marketed his offering brilliantly in a digital age.  

Anyone in the fitness industry can take inspiration from this. If you offer fitness classes, why not move them online? If you don’t have a service that can be moved online, consider anything new you could offer. A bakery, for example, could offer virtual baking tutorials. 

4. Do whatever you can to help 

We’re not advising that you give away your products or services for free, but people need that extra bit of help now more than ever and doing your bit will be remembered. Many banks have waived overdraft fees, supermarkets have donated food to those in need and factories are manufacturing supplies for the NHS. 

Not everyone can make big gestures, but even the small ones make an impact. Make people smile with positive social media content, run a virtual ‘pub quiz’ to keep your customers entertained or offer a few hours of volunteering to the local community. 

If you’re struggling to offer products and services in the current climate or finding yourself with free time, then check out our list of marketing ideas to carry out during your downtime – from brand building to CRM cleaning. You’ll be in the best position for when everything returns to normal. 

Crisis Communication Service

We’re temporarily offering email communication services to help you keep your customers in the loop and ensure their expectations are set and takes unnecessary pressure off your team. Find out more.   


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