Navigating the Unknown: Marketing During & After a Crisis

The times, as the saying goes, they are a-changing. How fast? Well, the situation will have evolved in the time between when we wrote this line and when you are reading it now. In fact, things might have changed in the time it took you to read those opening lines.

Given all this change, what’s a savvy marketer to do now and, more importantly, going forward?

Well, the first option is to do nothing. By that, we mean literally change nothing. This bury-your-head-in-the-sand-and-pretend-everything-is-OK strategy doesn’t work. And, honestly, anyone taking the time to read an article on marketing knows that already. So, we won’t spend much time here, other than to say this is not a strategy that will lead to success. Duh.

The next option is to stop the presses. This approach could mean stopping your marketing and, in many cases, cutting expenses. Sometimes dramatically. Here companies try to shed some weight in an attempt to tighten their belts. Batten down the hatches and hope the storm doesn’t blow you away. 

While taking this route will save some money in the short term, you’re going to be positioning yourself for a world of hurt in the future. Because the world is going to go on. At some point, a “new normal” will exist and it will care precisely 0% about what “used to work.” And closing your eyes and hoping the storm only does minimal damage is going to leave you behind as you pick up the remnants of what the crisis tore apart. 

The best course of action during a crisis is a more thoughtful, judicious approach to cuts. And—here’s the essential part—refocusing the tactics that are working the hardest for you. Those are the areas where you need to double down. 

We like the racing analogy the good folks at Bain & Company use to explain this idea.

“Think of a recession as a sharp curve on an auto racetrack—the best place to pass competitors, but requiring more skill than straightaways. The best drivers apply the brakes just ahead of the curve (they take out excess costs), turn hard toward the apex of the curve (identify the short list of projects that will form the next business model), and accelerate hard out of the curve (spend and hire before markets have rebounded).”

This approach asks you to lean in. To take inventory of what’s not working and what is. Those elements that aren’t working? Cut them without hesitation. A crisis is no time for preciousness. 

But the elements and tactics that are working and driving revenue? Those are the ones that should not only be continued. You should double down. Because they are going to propel you forward while your competition takes their foot off the gas. 

Winning During the Inevitable Crisis

Because in a world with so much uncertainty, there is one thing we can be certain about: This will not be the last crisis you face. Knowing that, let your competition lazily try to accelerate when the going is good. Or, worse, give up because they see there’s some smoke up ahead. You’re smarter than that. You know adversity, the curves of the road, are the times when real ground can be made up. And the true leader will be rewarded. 

And come back for our next post, when we discuss some strategies and technologies you can use to help refocus your marketing, optimize your efforts, and, ultimately, do more with less. Until then, have a look at how businesses are already optimizing for the new normal with Click360.