Marketing in the COVID-19 World – Part 3: Re-engage

Marketing in the COVID-19 World
Part 3: Re-engage

Welcome to the third entry in Viva’s 3-part series, “Marketing in the COVID-19 World”, designed to help decision makers navigate these choppy waters. The first installment, Part 1: Adjust, focused on the adjustments marketers must make to weather the storm. We talked about ensuring your brand messages and marketing add value, not noise. 

Part 2: Plan addressed the importance of starting the marketing planning process with new, post-COVID business goals, and then building a program to help achieve them.

Part 3 is about re-engaging customers.

“Open for business” signs are slowly starting to appear. Businesses everywhere are planning their re-entry strategies. Where do you begin?

Step #1: Continue daily check-ins.
Many companies instituted daily check-ins and added new communication tactics to help during COVID-19. Some of these practices are keepers.

Stay in touch with your employees on a daily basis to exchange information. They hear things you don’t. It is crucial to explain the rationale behind changes, which are happening at a faster clip than pre-COVID. The transparency can make them feel confident and safe, which will enhance their effectiveness and improve the customer service they deliver. 

Step #2: Be prepared to pivot.
Spiffy, the on-demand car cleaning business, quickly rolled out a service to sanitize offices, storefronts, warehouses, and fleets.

Oriental Trading, the “priced-to-thrill” party supply company, smartly pivoted away from in-person celebrations. They changed their home page banners to promote products relevant to people in today’s environment, such as car parade supplies and at-home learning:


As you prepare to re-engage with customers, tone, copy, visuals, keywords, and placements must be appropriate and relevant to their new, post-lockdown world. 

Step #3: Keep asking.
Customer research is paramount to a successful re-entry. Has the job you’re doing for customers changed due to the pandemic? How can you gauge their mindset and mood without asking?

Even if your business is running at half speed or shutdown entirely, you must stay connected to your customers. 

While in-person qualitative research is not an option, other research methodologies from telephone interviews to digital studies are viable and effective.

Step #4: Heavy up on digital marketing.
In-person events won’t be popular for months. People are hunched over their laptops between Zoom meetings, searching for disposable dust mops, hair trimmers and craft kits for kids. Meet them where they are! Deliver relevant messages that help build a relationship. 

Cost-per-impression for Facebook ads has dropped substantially even as traffic on the platform has surged. Traffic has skyrocketed on news sites while advertiser interest has waned. These are open doors for the savvy marketer.

Step #5: Test it!
You won’t know if an ad, social media post or email campaign is effective if you don’t try it. I often talk to clients about viewing marketing as a series of experiments. Research, analyze, create, implement, assess and start all over again. 

Marketing in the COVID-19 world is challenging. Pause to evaluate your current state, rejigger plans to sync with your updated business goals, and test the plan. It isn’t easy. It is essential.


This week’s winner is Nike. No set up required: 


2nd place goes to the star-studded team of artists and designers who created this poster to celebrate essential workers on the frontlines. It’s one of 1,800 New York City billboards that were transformed into a COVID-19 public art show. 


Third place is Burger King who is offering free Whoppers for using its billboards as Zoom backgrounds.

Laura Sheridan
Laura Sheridan, Founder & President of Viva La Brand has a proven track record of effective branding and advertising, spanning over twenty five years with some of the best in the business: Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago; Hill, Holliday and Polaroid in Boston; and, Progressive Insurance and Viva La Brand in Cleveland. Laura founded Viva La Brand to offer large and small organizations alike strategic marketing expertise to catapult their visibility, growth and profitability. Viva La Brand develops effective brand strategies and conducts ad agency searches that successfully match clients with the optimal ad agency partners. Laura is proud to work with smart, innovative leader Brands in a wide range of industries from health care to manufacturing to technology and financial services. In addition to her work with clients, Laura is an author and speaker on all topics related to Brand.
More articles by: Laura Sheridan
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