How Marketing Should Pivot to Communication During COVID-19 Crisis

Mar 30, 2020 | Strategy

The reality in today’s world is that many people are feeling the uncertainty and anxiety given the current health and economic situation resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Between the growing number of people being impacted by the virus, to the jobless claims and to the volatility in the stock market, many are feeling the stresses of these times.

For small businesses that are deemed non-essential, the question becomes, “What do I do?” We’ve had a number of discussions with small business owners and clients regarding this and we’ve identified a few strategies and tactics for improving your overall communication during these times. 

It isn’t about finding revenue or making sales necessarily, it’s about connecting in a vital, human way with your audience. Between offering general information about your business, to planning for the day the quarantine is no more, here are some ideas to keep you busy as you work from home.

Be People First, Businesses Second

This isn’t the time to sell. It is amazing to me how many salespeople are still sending me emails and making phone calls, almost completely tone deaf to this time in our world. Any “hard sell” will be received with increasing animosity during this time. People are fighting a globally pervasive virus, so any sales pitch will simply be ignored.

Instead, this time should be used to share your personal thoughts and feelings and connect with others on a human level. Maybe you haven’t been as accessible as a business owner, or not as visible to your staff and customers. Now is the time to share with your audience on a human level and use technology to reach your audience. 

We all have our part in fighting this virus. Whether we’re repurposing our facilities to help with creating personal protective equipment (PPE) or we’re simply staying at home to stop the spread, we all can contribute. Just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can’t speak to our customers and connect in an important way.

Over Communicate

Given the rapidly evolving circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 situation, it is critical that your current and potential customers understand how your business is reacting to the situation. Whether you’re completely closed, or you’re offering a limited set of services, let your audience know. 

Additionally, if you have plans to shift your business in some way to help the cause, share that with your audience. Maybe you need volunteers to help with your initiative or you just want to spread the word – digital communication is key. While people are getting a ton of digital messages (emails, texts, calls, etc.), it’s important to remain proactive and deliberate in your communication.

Share Your Expertise Freely

In addition to connecting with your existing audience and customers in a more personal way, now is the time to share and add value to the world without hoping for something in return. If you’re closed due to the quarantine, instead of simply waiting around for things to change, offer your expertise to anyone that could use it.

You’re not able to fulfill business right now, so why not take the time to share important insights that offer value to your audience and interested people? We believe that you should be doing this all the time, but if you never have before, you now have the time to do so. However small it might seem, this is one way you can use your skills and expertise to add value to the lives of people all around you. 

Plan for the Future

While all of the connections you make now could be potential customers in the future, that shouldn’t be the objective of your efforts. Your objective is simple: connect with people. However, there will be a time when the quarantine recommendations become more lenient or are completely lifted. How will you have spent your time leading up to that?

We’ve spoken with some small business owners who are taking this time to design that website, adjust that marketing strategy and plan for the moment people are back out and about and the economy is up and running again. If you’re able to, this is the time to do it. Whether it’s one, two, three or more months from now, at least you will know you’ve spent this time investing in your business’s future.

Additionally, this kind of marketing planning will make sure you “go live” with a bang to help make up for lost time. While your business capacity might remain the same, your marketing efforts can help you get busy right out the gate. If now’s not the time to strategize ways to grow your business, when is?


We’re all doing what we can to “flatten the curve” and defeat this virus as quickly as possible. While that is priority number one, it’s important to use whatever extra time we might have to continue to connect with people and plan for the future. Marketing right now needs to pivot to a more communication focused approach because now isn’t the time for hard selling, but a time to come together as humans and think about others before ourselves and our businesses.