Adapting Your Advertising in a Time of Crisis, Inspired by COVID-19 Email Marketing

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Times like these serve as a reminder that anything can change at the drop of a hat. Your first priority is safety, loved ones, and finding ways to restore the world to how it once was (or even improve on it).

Following this priority is adapting to new business norms. As businesses everywhere, across all industries, face the struggle of shuttering their doors when crisis hits, we want to act as a resource to help.

For those who’ve previously funneled some of their budget into advertising, and for those who want their customers, clients, or members to know that they’re still here and ready to be of service, this one’s for you.

Here are three ways, inspired by real companies, to adapt your advertising strategy to continue to be a resource in the lives of your customers, your employees, and your families as the world adjusts.

Work With What You’ve Got

Chances are, you’ve previously put together ad creatives and now you may feel stressed about what, exactly, to do with them.

How do you adapt without starting from scratch, and pulling from a budget you may not have right now?

The answer is: still use them, but with a few necessary tweaks.

Take, for example, Travelzoo, a global media company offering verified travel deals from more than 2,000 travel, entertainment and local companies.

They run a weekly email campaign known as Wednesday Deals. Each Wednesday, they share the top 20 deals from their partners that past week, including discounted flights, hotels, tours, theater shows, and more.

In light of COVID-19’s impact on the travel industry, Travelzoo addressed the problem head-on (we’ll get more into that later), and immediately found a new way to handle their Wednesday email blast in a way that is still useful to their readership and symbiotic for their partners.

They pivoted their Wednesday Deals into a new “Roam from Home” newsletter, where they feature exclusive deals and discounts for travel-esque experiences in which their audience can partake right from the comfort of their homes⁠—things like learning a language, subscribing to a wine-by-region delivery service, or even purchasing new luggage on sale.

Apply This to Your Own Campaigns

When faced with uncertainty, it’s critical to think of what you already have on hand to openly address your audience, let them know that you’re still there for them, and that you can still be valuable.

And, you don’t need to start back at square one to do it.

Address the Situation Head On

It’s absolutely critical to address COVID-19 with your audience.

Small, family-owned clothing retailer Mixology has consistently done exactly that.

They began with an earnest, heartfelt email from the company’s CEO and founding team which addressed how scary it is to be a small business in the times of COVID-19.

It also explained outright the company’s shift from encouraging customers to shop in stores to encouraging other forms of interaction with their brand online, helping them stay in business and support their hardworking staff and their families.

The company immediately pivoted from promoting their nine retail locations to instead promoting alternative ways they can remain of service to their dedicated customer base.

By offering personal shopping experiences, gift card purchases to use online or at a later date, or direct communication with someone on their team, this small business is taking measures to work with what they’ve got and not shy away from the fact that a pandemic puts them in risk of shutting their doors.

Apply This to Your Own Campaigns

Rather than looking for ways to advertise around what’s going on in the world today, be upfront and address that changes are being made as a direct response to COVID-19. Your customer base will be grateful for the honesty.

Remain Genuine, Remain Authentic

In times of crisis, making purchases may not be anywhere near top-of-mind for your regular consumers⁠—and understandably so. It’s so important to stay true to the values and voice that gave you those loyal customers in the first place.

Companies of all sizes are feeling fear and uncertainty. Remaining genuine with customers, clients, and members is so important, even though these concerns are top of mind.

Alcohol delivery service Drizly is known for their humorous communications, and for not taking themselves too seriously. They work directly with a vast variety of retail partners and drivers who make their service possible.

If communication came from Drizly in a far-off tone from their usual, it wouldn’t feel genuine, and it wouldn’t speak to the customer base they’ve worked hard to build. So, they made the decision to stay genuine.

To continue to support their partners and their staff, Drizly pivoted from their usual messaging, but not from their usual voice.

They still want their customers to call for deliveries, but they want to do so in a way that emphasizes gratitude and does not sacrifice the tone their customers expect to hear from them.

Apply This to Your Own Campaigns

Advertising strategies will have to pivot in times of crisis, but the elements of your brand that make your customers loyal do not. Stay authentic, and remember that both you and your customers are in this together.

Be Resourceful, Be Honest, Be Real

As companies all across the world face the same business challenges, strive to ensure the wellbeing of their teams, and to serve their customers, it becomes more critical than ever to adapt strategies.

Adaptation doesn’t mean searching for a brand new budget (in fact, it means the opposite), and it calls for an earnest addressing of the situation at hand.

It also calls for the maintenance of authenticity––in times of crisis, everything can seem upside down, but holding on to the importance of being genuine helps keep things right side up.

Real companies of all sizes, in all industries, are facing the same challenges all together. Share the ways in which you’re adapting your strategies with others, and support one another. Difficult times call for unprecedented measures, and finding new strategies that serve a world in transition.

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