Marketing During Times of Crisis

With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic affecting people all over the world — life has changed overnight. We’re adapting to the curveballs thrown our way, businesses are innovating, and we’re rising to tackle this unprecedented global challenge together.

As marketers, we have the important job of helping businesses successfully navigate these uncertain times — protecting their brands and thinking ahead so they can be there for their customers and employees.

So what should your company’s marketing look like during this crazy time?

Rethink Your Approach

Health, Food, Banking, & Business Support

Is your business an “essential” service? If so, customers need your products or services more than ever. It’s important to double down and be consistently communicating with your customers. Think regular social media updates, timely responses to comments, email marketing, and promotions. With customers seeking you out during a time of high stress — put yourself in their shoes, think ahead to alleviate their pain-points, and make sure your marketing is thoughtful and on-point.

Tourism, Entertainment, Beauty Services, & Gyms

For those in the “nonessential” category during this tough time, not all is lost. We’re seeing a lot of brands that are embracing the challenge, thinking outside the box and truly innovating.

Everyone’s favorite example is The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s “Tim” (the security guard):

Tim has taken on the additional responsibility of handling social media while the museum is temporarily shutting its doors. The result? Dad jokes galore. Tim brings the museum’s social followers the heart-warming and hilarious content they needed as he struggles to learn social media — all while showing off the museum’s artifacts online. Tim’s made such an impression that his social media gold has been covered by CNN and People and grown the museum’s Twitter followers to more than 240,000 in one week.

How can your brand think outside the box and move online during this time period? Freestyle can help you brainstorm!

Brand Activations & Events

All events and conferences are canceling or postponing due to the pandemic. In fact, our team was all set to attend SXSW 2020 when it was canceled for the first time in its 34-year history due to COVID-19.

Having to cancel an event, brand activation or conference can be heart-breaking after all the work that goes into the planning.

However, you have some options:

  • Cancel – With rapidly approaching timelines, some events may be forced to cancel altogether. This was the case for SXSW and they gave registrants the opportunity to defer their conference badge to 2021-2023.
  • Postpone – Do you have the ability to push your event to later in the year? If you act quickly and get in touch with vendors, they may be able to work with you to secure a date later in the fall. (Added bonus: You get extra time to plan!)
  • Move Online – Can your event be successfully moved online? Events or conferences with keynotes can be moved to an online webinar. Networking events can be changed to a virtual happy hour or coffee. Platforms including Zoom, Uber Conference (or even Facebook/Instagram Live videos) are good options if you need to take your event online.

(This is our very own Director of Photography Josh Biven’s photograph!)

Video Production

The good news with your video production partners (like Freestyle!) is that pre- and post-production/editing can all be done remotely. The challenge? With some large-scale, on-location shoots ruled out or postponed due to COVID-19, we all have to get scrappy in our video approach.

Social Media Videos

Many self-isolating are switching over to recording their videos from home. A favorite is Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show: At Home Edition. When NBC sent their employees home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Fallon started filming the show at home. His wife is the camera operator, his daughters and pets are his co-stars…the musicians, the art department, the laugh track, etc. Cuteness ensues. Fallon interviews his guests online via Zoom and raises money for a different nonprofit with each show on YouTube. I loved this unpolished version of the show — and honestly, these episodes have been some of my favorites!

How can your brand do something while social distancing? If you’re comfortable on camera, don’t be afraid to pick up your iPhone and post an Instagram story. Authenticity and connection with your followers are key. Or – perhaps partnering with a social influencer for a promoted video is the right strategy right now.

Everyone is jumping on the TikTok bandwagon right now and spending more time on social media. Your marketing team can brainstorm ways your brand can tell its story through 15-second TikTok videos.

@chipotleWait for it. Thank us later. ##chipotle ##fyp ##guacmode @mattstauffer3♬ original sound – chipotle

Animated Videos

Another great option is taking the animated video approach! Talk with your video partner about going with a graphic, illustrated or animated style for your video production needs — as this approach can be done entirely while social distancing.

Television Commercials

For “essential” services and those with previously purchased media buys, television advertising and streaming could continue to be effective platforms. With more people social-distancing at home, they’ll be tuning into the news and streaming entertainment.

It’s important to revisit your video spots to ensure they’re still relevant and appropriate. For some, videos can be re-edited and voiceovers can be re-recorded to make quick updates to the concept to be empathetic to the current state of the world.

Instead of “sell, sell, sell!” the best thing you can do is use your platform to help customers. This is important always — but especially now.