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7 questions your marketing team should reflect on during the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 crisis holds severe impacts on our economy, and every business is affected.

The question everyone is presently asking: how are we going to get through it?

Read our Covid-19 special advisory report

With lower revenues, limited production capacities, and negative perspectives for the next quarters, every business is now in a "spend less" mode, and sales and marketing departments are the first to be reevaluated, with reason.

In crisis management like the one we are experiencing right now, we must precautiously act to preserve our brand's reputation.

Before making any decisions, we must first ask ourselves the right questions.

Here are the ones you should be challenging to assess the correct marketing actions, and the ones you should adjust or cancel. And the ones you should add.

1. Can our messages be misunderstood?

If you haven't already, the first thing to do is to reevaluate all automatic digital campaigns and pause planned content rapidly. Another idea is to create an inventory of every traditional campaign in place and what they are stating. Context has changed, and your advertising campaigns, your social media content, and your digital campaigns could, from now on, all get misinterpreted.

To evaluate the potential risks of your key messages, imagine them next to negative news linked to the crisis; what does that imply?

It is crucial to adapt your reflection to the social and local content of the market in which your ad placements are, knowing this health crisis hits differently in every province.

Do not hesitate to ask your employee's opinions regarding these markets to evaluate them properly. Not all decisions can be made from the head office!

If you judge that there is a slight risk possibility, pause your digital campaigns, contact your media representative to remove your ad placements, and adapt your planned content.

2. Why did we plan specific actions?

Now that the initial reputational risk linked to the ongoing campaigns is covered, it is time to reflect on the relevance of these new actions within the current context.

  • What was the initial goal of your marketing projects?
  • Is it still relevant considering the actual context?
  • Is that a promise you can still keep?

Respond to these questions while considering the governmental instructions, your operational issues, and mostly your client's challenges.

This reflection will rapidly guide you in order to decide if your actions are still relevant during the crisis.

3. What are people saying about us?

Whether you decided to stop all social communications or not temporarily, your consumers are still expressing themselves, and probably even more than usual.

Considering that the quarantine state is forcing people to stay home, we're expecting more time spent on social media and information platforms.

It is essential to monitor discussions on social media to understand what is being said about you and your industry in general.

Many monitoring and management tools exist online. Use them to vigorously follow-up during the emergency. Look at Talkwalker, Pulsar, BrandWatch, or the free Tweetdeck platform, as an example.

4. What are our consumer's needs?

Monitoring your social platforms can also allow you to understand your client's preoccupations. It is essential to understand them and not overgeneralize.

  • The new stay at home mother has to entertain her kids.
  • The student now has to occupy himself without his friends and family.
  • The young professional has to work from home in a very unusual context.

Even if their needs may vary, their priority is still their family’s health and security. To do so, they first have to be well informed. Second, comes the opportunity for your brand to stimulate them and nourish them with inspirational content.

Our advice is: listen more than you talk.

Must read: our article "how to create useful content during the crisis?"

5. What can we do to be more useful?

Now that you identified your consumer's needs, and adopted an empathic posture, think about their obligations to stay truly useful.

In an interview with Strategy, Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University's Smith School of Business, said:

"This is a time for brands to show consideration for the customers and that they're more than just a transaction," Wong stress. "Those that do will benefit long term, and those that don't will get what they deserve."

At this point, it is important to clarify where your brand has credibility and act there, and which content you can produce, considering your actual positioning and consumer's perception.

Here are a few ideas:

  • For your consumers, B2B or B2C, that need information, you could write blog articles, plan Facebook live information sessions, or even create a Facebook group while inviting your community to share their tips and tricks.
  • For the ones looking for entertainment, you can share old long formats, suggest activities to plan with kids or challenge them to do specific tasks in their house.
  • For the ones in research mode, it is time to put forward Pinterest boards and share content before and after to inspire.
  • For the buyers, it is time to diversity your e-commerce strategies and keep an eye on your CPA.

The key to getting through it: being useful and coherent at the same time.

→ We can help you with that. Contact us!

6. Do we have a budget for certain actions?

If your business finds itself in a difficult financial situation, that question was the first that came to mind. That being said, you can allow yourself to identify actions that don't cost a lot but can cater to several needs.

Social media is a great way to stay reactive and creative while operating at a lower cost. If your information is handy, people will share it, and its organic reach can touch hundreds, even thousands of individuals. (With some publications, we observed an organic reach 4x higher than usual since the beginning of the week!)

Here are a few other questions that might help you to stay creative, relevant, and flexible:

  • Which usual activities can happen online as an online visit through hangout or a phone call instead of an in-person meeting?
  • Who from your sales team can survey your clients regarding their worries?
  • Which one of your intern experts can launch a webinar or a podcast to inform your clients and acquaintances?

Considering that your brand's operations are slower than usual, it's essential to ensure constant communication within your departments, in order to maintain coherence between what is said and done.

→Must read: our article "COVID-19: a few brands that adapt in a beneficial way".

7. Is it the right time to act?

In a time of crisis, it is vital to act rapidly. That being said, the line between opportunism and usefulness is thin.

People will remember opportunist brands, the ones who will try to use this difficult time to boost their sales. But they'll also not forget useful brands that behaved to help others before anything.

If you keep your client's preoccupations at heart, your actions should not fall into the opportunism slot.

To validate the opportunism perception of your actions, here are a few tips:

  • Disseminate your intentions internally to get some feedback. Geographic, cultural, generational, and sexual diversity is more than welcome.
  • Try to imagine the worst-case scenario. Does that put you in a difficult situation?
  • Can your action be taken out of context?
  • Can the timing be misinterpreted?

You can also use point #1 questions to identify all the potential risks.

Conclusion: being useful is not an option

This time of crisis is shaking things up... for brands, yes, but also for many individuals. Why not utilize your business at the service of others?

If you are helping people now, some of them can support you later on- or when everything comes back to normal.

And if, at the term of that article, you still have questions, contact us!


As the Head of strategy, Jean-Philippe has been interested in the systemic changes required for a transition to a more conscious capitalism system for over 10 years.