There are no words to describe the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding. Not a single aspect of life is unaffected by this virus. Now that you may be adjusted to a “new normal” remote work dynamic, you are likely asking yourself, “How can I make the biggest impact for my business during this time of global economic decline and business uncertainty?”

Historically, times of crisis are also times of innovation because of high necessity. In fact, the Bubonic Plague of the 14th century accelerated technical advances for that time, with inventions ranging from the printing press and agriculture plowing to silver mining. A variety of companies that we know and love today were founded during more modern times of economic crisis and recession, including GE, Disney, IBM, and even Toll House Cookies!

This, too, can be a time of innovation and opportunity for your business, specifically your marketing team, if you can harness the potential of what’s possible in response to this global crisis.

Analyze your opportunities

Start by thinking big. Ask yourself: “What new products or services does my client base need in response to this crisis?” or “What new use cases now exist for my products or services in light of this global pandemic?” No matter what industry, there is an opportunity for your business to respond. Even if you are a brick and mortar retail store that has been closed by the government, consider how you can address the need for birthday and anniversary gifts, perhaps by offering curated, online personal shopping and gift selection. If you are in the education or technology vertical, the opportunities are endless as you reimagine how you can serve a whole new audience of virtual learners. Take a hard look at your business model and answer the question: “How can my business reduce the friction created by this pandemic with our products or services?”

If there is any economic upside of this pandemic for your business, it could be related to your long-term recovery response. This period of economic turbulence will pass and planning ways to strategically re-engage your audience as your business emerges from the COVID-19 outbreak should also be at the top of your list. Buyers will have a new perspective post-pandemic; take time to consider how their values might shift during this time and how you can position your products and services to meet their evolving priorities.

Audit your efforts

Spending must be intelligent and calculated during this time of international turmoil. Begin by examining the ROI of everything from your martech stack to your paid marketing spend. These questions can help guide an audit of your hard costs:

  • Is this technology a “need to have” or “nice to have”? Eliminate anything that isn’t essential to your results.
  • Is there ROI in this specific marketing investment? Examine each channel and the related investment. How much return on investment can we project with confidence? What is the direct impact on the bottom line of each effort? Is that more or less than pre-pandemic ROI? Consider turning up initiatives that can yield more ROI during this time, and turning off efforts that have more questionable results. Be agile to maximize the potential of each and every tactic.
  • How can we strategically reallocate budget previously planned for travel and conferences? This might be as simple as investing instead in new brand messaging or product development that is specific to serving people crippled by COVID-19.
  • Is there a substitute for expensive resources? For instance, instead of hiring more writers during a time when you likely need to produce more content and crisis communication to serve your audience’s new needs, can you hire an agency or freelance team to spin up your resources more quickly and effectively? Consider lean alternatives to hiring new team members to scale up your efforts.

Consider Real-Time Communication Channels

Through this crisis, it’s been more evident than ever that real-time communication is essential to so many businesses. This outbreak provided countless examples of times when customers needed relevant, timely communication in a format they could quickly view. Consider a plan to address this need for your audience. Whether that’s SMS marketing, or highly targeted email campaigns ready to deploy, have a plan in place to update your audience on changes to your company’s services, hours, or offerings during this time.

How will your team adapt?

Every cause has an effect. Every pebble makes a ripple. Every stimulus has a response. In this time of change, how can your business drive outcomes in new ways? Can marketing, which is essentially your brand’s voice, continue to move your business forward despite new challenges daily? Those who are willing to be innovative and rise to the occasion will be relevant for years to come.