25 Experts Share Their Advice On What Marketers Should Avoid Doing In The Coronavirus Crisis

This article is part of Raydiant’s Coronavirus Small Business Resource Center which aims to provide actionable insights, ideas, and resources to business owners struggling due to the current Coronavirus outbreak. 

We’ve collaborated with different executives, business owners, and thought leaders to crowdsource insights and expertise that will ensure this content is as actionable, timely, and helpful as possible. 

If you are a business owner looking for a specific question to be answered or if you an expert and would like to have your insights included, please email Emilia@Raydiant.com

What should marketers avoid doing during this challenging period?

Jess White, head of marketing at Clipboard Health

"All marketers should avoid over-spending right now. Unless you find a campaign that can be scaled in today’s current economic condition (of the last week or two), you shouldn’t be mass spending on advertising or campaigns you had planned before the national emergency."

What was likely to work two or three weeks ago won’t work today. Instead, spend time testing and create a short-term strategy that can lead to long-term gains.

Erik Huberman, Founder and CEO of Hawke Media

"Price gouging is a terrible move right now, as is trying to poke fun at the situation and not taking it seriously. Taking the opportunity for granted and being insensitive is going to turn people off and ultimately hurt your customer base."

You have to lead with empathy and really think about who you’re connecting with right now. Being cold about it is not the way to do it, and being visibly opportunistic would be a death sentence.

Jayson Demers, CEO, Emailanalytics

"Avoid posting anything salesly, as it could come across as tone-deaf or outright numb to the immense hardship that many people and businesses are enduring right now."

Focus your advertising efforts on providing advice, help, or other value rather than trying to get users to take a conversion action.

Use this time to build your brand’s awareness and establish yourself as a role model or thought leader in your industry.

Sara Davis, VP of Growth at Canirank

"Don’t cut your budgets. While it may be tempting to skimp on your marketing budgets right now, it’s a crucial time to keep going." 

Identify if there are any new personas/avenues to target and if you can do anything to help. Marketers have the unique opportunity right now to help make a positive impact on their prospective markets.

Nicholas Benedict, Managing Director, King, Edward, First LLC

"Focus on growing audiences, not growing revenue (as much as possible)."

 People are hungering for information and to use their time productively but aren’t necessarily wanting to open their wallets.

Christoffer Sørensen, Founder andd Virtualvisibilitymedia INC

"As marketers, we should be careful and avoid wearing too many hats. For example, we should avoid offering medical advice or numbers and information that is in flux around the issue. While it’s tempting to try to do good here, it’s much more useful to leave medical information to those who have the expertise."

If it’s at all necessary to address the situation directly, simply refer and link to CDC resources and leave it at that. In short, as marketers we should focus on the messaging of our clients. Obviously, it needs to be contextualized to what’s going on in the world, but we don’t want to overreach.

Johannes Rastas, Affiliate Marketing Manager at Supermetrics

"During uncertainty, overall consumption tends to decline and people become more risk averse."

This is why most people are not open to outbound sales or marketing now and it should be avoided. People are likely to postpone their non-essential purchases once the pandemic subsides.

Matthias Nowak, Marketing Director Europe FFW

"Avoid being dogmatic. Do not stick to “we do it, because we’ve always done it that way”. Now is the time to open your mind and let it be opened."

Use emails, Instagram, Facebook, chat clients of all sorts. Make photos. Make your colleagues record podcasts. Quality is second right now. Connection counts. Do whatever connects / clicks with your audience. As marketers, we are pretty free right now – which can be intimidating.

Eri Panselina, Media Relations Coordinator, Talentlms

"Don’t be opportunistic, be useful. The global economy is being affected in such a degree that it is so hard to do business as usual. My advice would be to adapt your content strategy to the current situation, but not in an opportunistic or salesy way – do not focus on sales but on being useful."

Think of what ways can your content be useful to companies or your readers in the midst of a deep crisis. Since a vast number of companies and people are being hit in different ways by the Covid-19 pandemic, use at least half of your writing resources to write guides, advice, and solutions and do not promote your product or software while doing this.

David Waiter, SEO Director at Direction

"Marketers should avoid pausing whatever marketing initiatives they have in place. Once you lose that momentum, it can be very difficult to get back to the same rhythm you were at before. If anything, marketers should reprioritize their marketing efforts to emphasize platforms where their target audience may have migrated to during this unprecedented transition to remote work and social distancing. Avoid waiting out the storm. Right now is an opportunity many of your competitors may be waiting to capitalize on."

Cathy Reisenwitz, Head of Content for Clockwise

"Don’t write the same 5 WFH tips everyone else is writing. Bring something new to the conversation instead of contributing to noise."

Also, don’t let the news cycle completely dominate your marketing activities. Interest will die down eventually and since it takes 3-6 months for search engines to pick up new material, if you keep publishing evergreen content you’ll be well-poised to keep traffic rolling in after the crisis. If you don’t, you’ll have to start over from scratch and be months behind.

Deb Gordon, Former Health Insurance CMO and Author of The Health Care Consumer's Manifesto

"Avoid business as usual. Do not run the same messages you might have before."

These will be ineffective at best as people are distracted and anxious. At worst, failing to show awareness of and sensitivity to these strange and scary times will offend people and turn them off now and after the crisis passes.

Ashley Sterling, Director of Opperations at The Loop Marketing

"Do not exploit the uncertainty of the community or feed the fear." 

Everyone is fearful of what the coming weeks may bring, and by focusing on positivity will help increase motivation. Times like these can be viewed as an enormous opportunity for brainstorming and creatively adjusting.

Eloah Manzoli, Head of Marketing at Shophysio

"Marketers should avoid panicking and spreading further concern – you need to assess your options and calmly decide the action to take (taking caution to avoid paralysis by analysis!). Try to adjust your scope to aim for long term objectives; whether that might mean limiting current paid marketing spend on the short term, and focusing on longer term digital channels like SEO. This channel typically takes the longest time to bear fruit, so now may be the time to run content audits on your website and to determine any weak spots or content gaps."

Coming up with, and reassessing ongoing SEO strategies may be worth investing time in to ensure that when this passes over (and it will pass over, with time), your business is in a healthy position to be able to capture more sales going forward.

Jason Lavis, Managing Director, Out Of The Box Innovations LTD.

"Don’t take action or make changes too quickly."

Everyone needs a few weeks to adjust to the situation and the future. New sales messages will seem emotionally out of touch. Knee jerk promotions and discounts might mean less overall profitability and cheapen your brand.

Lorrie Thomas Ross CEO and Founder of Web Marketing Therapy

"Marketers need to avoid exploiting the virus as a reason to market. The number of companies who jumped on the email bandwagon trying to get in front of audiences in a non-meaningful way using the virus as a focus have only left a negative impression. I am also advising clients to not use COVID-19 or Coronavirus in their email subject lines unless they are in the medical profession. It’s ok to use it in the email message or in blog posts or social media posts if it’s truly relevant, but don’t abuse this awful time to try to get heard in all this noise."

Jakub Kliszczak, Merketing Specialist, Channels

"Stop focusing on vanity metrics and go for results." 

If you know how to bring in results and do it without spending too much $$ on software or people, go for it. Surely, focusing on content and SEO will thrive in the next few months.

Shana Harris, COO of Warchawski

"Avoid taking advantage of the situation. You don’t want to up your fees or appear disingenuous in any way."

You also don’t want to be tone deaf – and talk about things that are completely unrelated. It is a fine balance to make sure you are engaging with your core target audience, staying relevant, but not appearing to be taking advantage of the situation. For some, this might mean it is not the right time to launch new products or services, but to offer support and valuable information.

Bob Bentz, President of Advanced Telecom Services and Purplegator

"Don’t stop generating leads just because people aren’t buying right now."

There may be less people willing to buy right now, but when this virus gets behind us, and it will, there will be pent up demand for your product or service. It’s time to get ahead of the competition and be ready to run when businesses and consumers start spending again.

Jon Torres, Founder, Jontorres.com

"Marketers should avoid running advertisements they usually do. I recommend auditing all advertising that is currently running."

You may find yourself in a bad situation if your messaging that is usually fine runs now and is tone-deaf. Evaluate what you are running and pivot messaging to ensure you are considerate of what is happening in the world.

David Hooper, Podcast Marketing, Production Expert, Big Podcast

"I’m surprised at the number of people online who are doing business as usual without any empathy for what their customers are going through."

I don’t think we need to turn everything off during this time, but look at what’s happening around you before jumping in with a tone-deaf promotion that will disconnect you from current and potential customers.

Ronii Bartles, Marketing and Opperations Expert, Roniibartles.com

"Marketers should avoid giving false information or advice. Do your research and make sure that your messages are correct if you are providing information."

There is so much information and content out there that people are getting very confused because a lot of it is conflicting. Do your research to make sure that your messaging is correct and you are not adding to the collective of confusing information. By all means, create content. We need good content, just do your research and put out accurate content.

Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing Expert, Dontpayfull

"Don’t stop sending emails to your audience. Emails do not carry organic viruses. Since people have condemned themselves at home, everyone has plenty of non-productive time to pass."

Now people will thoroughly read every promotional email which they never even bothered to open, let alone read. So, marketers must not stop sending promotional emails to their target audience while enforcing social media marketing efforts. Contents of your promotional emails will be fully read by the recipients now. So, you will get greater benefits of your email marketing effort than ever. Additionally, your business emails will help you to stock up a great number of potential leads for your future business.

Sarah Assous, CMO of Zoovu

"Marketers need to avoid adding additional stress to their customers’ lives. This is not the time to try and upsell on unnecessary products, but a time to look at what your company offers that will make life easier or more enjoyable as we reduce our time outside of the home." 

They also must avoid campaigns around seasonality that are not actionable for the consumer at this point–some products are simply not a priority at the moment, so keep that in mind and shape your message accordingly.

William Chin, SEO Consultant, Pickfu.com

"Disaster marketing, or trying to leverage the Coronavirus ambulance chasers. Don’t do Coronavirus sales or liquidation."

Instead, offer assistance to those businesses affected by the virus instead. Brand reputation is very important, it can be very easy to go from zero to hero!