How to Market Your Brand During the Coronavirus: 12 Examples of What Smart Companies Are Doing

“If you can’t stand by your mission at all times, even during an economic downturn, how can potential customers trust you enough to work with you in good times?”

Tucker Max, Co-founder, Scribe

Do you know how long the Coronavirus pandemic nightmare will last?

I honestly don’t. No one does at this point.

Everything is uncertain, unclear, and that can be scary.

Especially if you’re a business owner, you’re probably stressed out. You’re probably overwhelmed.

You see everyone around you buying lots of toilet paper (wtf?) and guns while you keep banging your head against the wall wondering what you should do with your business to keep it afloat. 

You’ve got 2 options.

Option 1)  Panic out, run to the closest Costco to buy as much toilet paper you can and hide it in your basement. 

🧻🧻🧻 

Or

Option 2) Instead, learn how to SURVIVE and THRIVE by adapting your marketing to the current economic situation.

If option 2 sounds better, you came to the right place!

For today’s article, I researched and talked to some of the most successful businesses and founders to understand what they are doing to adapt (and thrive) in this new environment.

Today, I’ll tell you…

  • Specific tactics (and examples) to successfully build and scale whether you’re selling SaaS, info products, and/or services in the age of Coronavirus.
  • Smart strategies for how to think about your marketing as the market shifts.
  • Plus, their expert recommendations for companies like yours so you can row the boat WITH the water’s current for as long as the new economic tide lasts.

Take off your mask and put down the hand sanitizer. It’s time to adapt and market smarter…

 

The Outlook is (Obviously) Bad For Now: Coronavirus Could Cost 5MM U.S. Jobs

According to Bloomberg, the non-stop spread of the Coronavirus is estimated to cost the global economy $2.7 trillion (ouch!). And according to The Wall Street Journal, it could cost 5 million jobs for Americans.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 701,000 in March 2020. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. And significant declines occurred in social assistance, professional and business services, health care, retail trade, and construction.

Source

More and more people are working from home every day. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29% of Americans could work from home in 2018. 

Last week, I called Apple’s customer support. I was on a 2-hour call with them because my brand new iPad wasn’t working. And I just wanted to be productive and play some games during the quarantine 😎.

Well, the person who assisted me was working from home. And it was very clear to me from all the background noise—kids screaming and shouting “daddy” and the recognizable sound of pots banging in the kitchen 😆.

Working from home may represent no big deal for most workers. 

Some are receiving free money while being at home doing nothing. And not because they’re lazy and they don’t want to lift a finger. But because the companies they work for can’t sustain and provide them with a laptop and internet connection.

Not Every Company Will Survive: 15,000 Retailers Could Go Out of Business In the U.S. During the Global Pandemic

So what does working from home really mean for companies and business owners? 

It means money lost.

Because let’s face it, not all companies are capable of supplying an entire fleet of workers with laptops or an internet connection. Heck, some can’t even delegate the work at all.

There are some business models that haven’t been so lucky. Travel and tourism have been impacted the hardest with the pandemic outbreak.

Everyone is avoiding going out and traveling, and many vacationers are cancelling their flights.

Source 

But not only the travel industry has been hit. So has the automotive industry. They’ve seen a 30% drop in the industry average conversion rate since the beginning of the Coronavirus.

Source 

And according to CNBC, more than 15,000 retailers could be closed in 2020. And research by Business Insider shows that the following big-name retailers are temporarily closing their doors in the U.S.

  • Best Buy
  • Swarovski
  • Kohl’s
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Ashley Stewart
  • Pandora Jewelry
  • Skechers
  • Versace
  • Untuckit
  • Men’s Wearhouse and JoS. A. Bank
  • TJMaxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods
  • Five Below
  • Hallmark
  • Claire’s and Icing
  • JCPenney
  • Kering Group
  • LVMH
  • Kate Spade
  • Coach and Stuart Weitzman
  • Crate & Barrel
  • IKEA
  • H&M
  • Zara
  • Gap
  • Old Navy
  • And more

But for some companies, this economic outbreak translates into opportunity.

We’ve actually seen a spike in sign-ups for our service. And can you guess what types of businesses they are? Cleaning and laundry services.

But these aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the Coronavirus outbreak. Yours can too.

As a matter of fact, according to Wordstream, businesses in the following industries are experiencing increases across key metrics during this pandemic…

  • Health and medical 

Source 

  • Business management

Source 

  • Finance

Source 

  • On-demand media

Source 

Also, according to Bloomberg, pizza chains are seeing demand rise:

  • Papa John’s is hiring 20,000 workers who can start working on the same day (Business Wire).
  • Domino’s is looking to hire 1,000 new team members in Chicago (Nasdaq).
  • Pizza Hut is looking to hire 60,000 new workers (Fox News) and they’re advertising it on their social media.

Regardless of your business model, you can choose how to turn the steering wheel and where to take your company. It happens every day for our clients. 

And today, you can model the examples we put together. You can apply them in a snap. And if you need help implementing them, AutoGrow is here to help you. It’s what we do best!

Now let’s review these examples.

1. Design Pickle—Productized Business

I really like and admire Design Pickle. I have interviewed Russ Perry, its founder, in the past about productized services and it’s always inspiring seeing where he’s at with his business.

Design Pickle is a productized service that provides unlimited graphic designs to businesses by pairing clients with a professional graphic designer. 

Last time I spoke with him last year the business had 2,800 active clients and 12,000+ serviced and was on track to become a $100,000,000+ company. We talked about some critical nuts and bolts advice to building and scaling a successful productized service. 

But this time, the conversation was a bit different.

I asked him what Design Pickle is doing differently to market itself during the CV-19 pandemic. And it only takes visiting their homepage to see how they are hedging against the current economic “freeze”.

Russ is clear in one thing. That there’ll be a shift in every industry.

“You need to remember that the typical target audience that you’ve been going after or the companies you have been going after is completely shifting. We’re not going to be able to be a good fit for some clients anymore. They may go out of business. They may not be in business right now. However, there’s a huge group of clients that may have never considered us that are going to be looking for better alternatives or more cost-effective alternatives. And that’s where we’re going to step in.

He has stayed away from marketing based on market value (cost). They’ve always been focused on the emotion and connection but they’re going back on that now by focusing on affordability.

They’re also revamping their positioning and message, and communicating twice a week with customers. Their customer support is 24-hours a day and they’re making sure they really connect with their customers and understand their needs.

Design Pickle is also offering an extended 45-day no risk guarantee for all plans until April 30th.

And not only that. As part of their digital marketing strategy during this economic outbreak, they’ll be also launching new plans with lower costs. This will let customers have access to highly qualified designers without the full experience of the subscription.

In Russ’ opinion, other companies should cut it out with remote marketing tips and hacks. 

He thinks everyone needs to…

“Focus on their unique ability inside their marketplace.”

2. Scribe—Service Business

“We want to be the people that helped everyone on earth write their book, and did it in the best possible way. We want to be the people who stepped up and did everything they could to help in the way they knew best.” – Tucker Max

Scribe offers unique programs designed to help people write, publish, edit, ghostwrite, and market their books. 

Their mission is to help everyone write a book. So they turned the pandemic outbreak into an opportunity and offered the world a gift.

They took one of their paid workshops “Scribe Book School” (valued at $5,000) and turned it into a free live training. Anyone will be able to access it not only during the pandemic, but also afterwards.

This decision was made after noticing many companies attempting to market their services as if nothing was happening. But Scribe’s team planned the entire workshop (including templates and worksheets) in less than a week so anyone could join and learn how to write a book.

And their contribution during this crisis turned out to be very good. They didn’t spend any money on advertising the free training. They only used email and social marketing to reach out to the audience. And over 5,000 people registered for the live workshop within less than a week.

They also decided not to upsell during the live training. But as Tucker Max, co-founder of Scribe’s says:

“People kept asking me in the chat to talk about our services and I kept telling them to go to the main site and book a call with our sales people if they wanted that, in this training, I was only there to teach. People loved when I did that, but it wasn’t a trick or anything—I genuinely love teaching this stuff, I had no desire to talk about our services.”

And an unexpected turn of events happened. They ended up generating over 6 figures in revenue the next week after the free training took place. 

See how good deeds can actually turn into a benefit for you and your business?

The audience learned about Scribe through the free course, saw the value they received, and instantly converted into customers.

And not only that. They’ve also worked with many authors to adjust payment plans as needed. And ran a 90-minute webinar to walk them through how to use their books to help them and their own clients during the Coronavirus.

3. AutoGrow.co—Productized Service + Products

Our strategy for bettering the world is to survive (DONE, we’ve been profitable saving for some time now), and then THRIVE (by growing through this downturn and creating lots of new jobs for people). 

We’re hiring by the way, link at the bottom of this page.

Like most other businesses, we’ve seen some clients cancel, downgrade or pause their accounts due to budget restraints (and frankly, fear). But we’ve continued to work hard to respond to our clients quickly while delivering high-quality work.

I don’t like seeing so many clients discouraged or afraid to keep scaling their business. That’s why, AutoGrow’s response to our audience, customers, clients, and readers is a strong one.

We’re offering a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on all 4 packages of our productized service. And we’re making our offer very clear across our website in an eye-catching way.

We don’t want potential clients to worry about the work not being delivered or worry about money right now. So this makes it an easier decision.

We also don’t want our site’s visitors to struggle looking for information on our website.

That’s why we laid out in our banner our limited offer right on our pages. We’ve made it very clear and easy to see what we’re offering.

4. SamCart—SaaS

We’ve used SamCart for 2 years now. This platform allows you to create simple checkout pages for your business. They also have a ton of templates to choose from that gives you some options to AB test your checkout page copy.

We actually use Samcart for our website. And in light of all the changes Coronavirus has brought, they offered 2 free months of our service. 

Still, I haven’t really seen any advertisements for this on their website. This is probably because they’re expecting customers to reach out to their customer support team.

5. Resonate Recordings—Service

After interviewing Jacob Bozarth, President and CEO, he told me that they’re looking for new ways to market their service to companies that need solutions in the face of the pandemic.

They’ve stayed in contact with their clients offering support through the outbreak and resulting economic dip.

This business has also taken 2 of their most profitable services and reduced their profit margin. All this is meant to help current clients get more value from their services, and to help them keep on recording podcasts while spending less money.

Resonate Recording has shared their response to the Coronavirus on their website.

They clearly communicate that their production process can be done remotely. So they guarantee there’ll be no disruption of the service they offer. And if for some unforeseen reason the work isn’t accomplished on time, they’ll communicate with the client.

Jacob’s advice to other companies during this global pandemic is to… 

“Reinvent/remarket their current offerings in a way that means something today. Be open to thinking outside the box and help provide value to people who are trying to navigate “the new normal.”

6. Cognito Forms—SaaS

We use Cognito Forms all the time. In fact, our hiring funnel is practically documented with their forms.

We’ve been using this tool for 1 year. And they have been no exception to helping their audience during the Coronavirus outbreak.

For us in particular, they’ve offered a full month of their services for free. I particularly haven’t seen this offer on their website but it’s probably because they’re expecting customers to reach out to their support team via email.

7. FortRabbit—SaaS

FortRabbit is a traditionally service-focused hosting platform tailored to the needs of modern PHP web development. We actually use it here at AutoGrow and it has been a smart decision.

Not only do they provide affordable hosting solutions to web designers, startups, and digital agencies. But they’ve also adapted to the economic outbreak to keep customers’ business online.

They’ve been offering up to a 40% discount for up to 3 months to support clients in financial trouble.

And they’ve created a blog post where they outline the measures taken to keep businesses running and informed.

FortRabbit’s CxO Frank Lammer, recommended to other companies during the pandemic to… 

“best support each other and not try to take advantage by creating noise.”

8. Wufoo by Survey Monkey—SaaS

This is another great tool we use at AutoGrow.

Wufoo helps us build customized online forms. 

This company has developed resources like a new survey template to help companies communicate with their employees during the Coronavirus pandemic. Because as Leela Srinivasan, Wufoo’s CMO to me:

There’s never been a more important time for organizations to listen to feedback from the people they serve, and act on that feedback—and we can help with that.” 

And they partnered with organizations in the healthcare, education, nonprofit, and government sectors to help them connect with patients, students, and other constituents. 

They’ve launched some special discounts to help educators and nonprofits gather feedback from their key audiences, as well as to help foundations and grant-making organizations get help to those in need. And broadly speaking, we’re constantly thinking how we can add value as a partner.

9. Perfect Audience—SaaS 

Perfect Audience is a retargeting platform that lets marketers bring back web visitors through Facebook ads, banner ads, and Twitter ads. They provide software that gets customers more sales, leads, sign-ups, and conversions. 

Eric Stockton, Perfect Audience’s General Manager told me that in response to the Coronavirus, they’re offering a no-question cancellation policy and up to $5,000 in matching ad spend for any advertiser. 

They’re also offering free optimization analysis via their A.I. Lab and free Google, Facebook, and Instagram matching ad credit up to $5,000. 

They recently hosted a record-setting webinar about that topic with more than 450 registrants.

And on April 15, they’ll be hosting another webinar about how to plan for a post-pandemic world. 

As part of their company’s mission, they’re helping their advertisers with their advertising via retargeting. And as he said to me: 

I feel a duty as a business leader and entrepreneur to help keep team members, clients, partners and our local and global economies focused and stable… That does not mean businesses should panic and totally retract. Uber and Slack were formed during the last recession.”

They’ve made some changes like temporary cuts and pivots, but they’re trying to help be a part of the recovery and post-pandemic economic growth.

10. Digital Marketer—SaaS 

Digital Marketer is a digital marketing membership website that offers a variety of info products and a private login area for paying members. 

As part of their contribution to their audience during the global pandemic, they’re giving free access to their entire library of online training.

All you need to do is visit their homepage, see their banner, and join for free.

11.  ActiveCampaign—SaaS

ActiveCampaign is a cloud software platform that offers software for customer experience automation which combines email marketing, marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM features.

We use ActiveCampaign to send our newsletters and email campaigns. And as part of their response to COVID-19, they offered us 2 months credit.

On their website, they’ve been updating their audience as they monitor the Coronavirus progress.

One of the measures they’re taking is canceling their Study Halls events until May 5 and offering a full refund for the tickets. These are the events and locations canceled so far.

However, it’s unclear if the credit they offered to us is part of a standard strategy they’re developing because I haven’t seen anything related to that on their website.

Added to that, they aren’t really calling attention to the fact that they’re doing something to help their clients in the face of the raging pandemic. Yes, they did offer us a credit. But only after we asked. 

And despite tens of thousands of businesses being affected by it, ActiveCampaign just doesn’t seem to be offering much to their clients in terms of good faith discounts. 

If you’re looking to help your customers and clients, perhaps marketing your brand this way isn’t the smartest decision. Why? Because you’re simply not marketing your brand. 

You’re not communicating to your audience that you’re actually doing something to help them. Sure, we emailed them requesting the credit, but I think it would be fair to offer everyone the same credit.

So instead of being reactive during this crisis, you might instead want to consider being upfront about your offers as a client retention strategy and make them visible across your website.

12. Leadpages—SaaS

Leadpages is a landing page builder. It’s the tool we use to create and optimize all of our landing pages and those of our clients.

We’ve been their customers for 3 years so far. And they’ve offered us a 2-month credit after us requesting so via email.

I’ve really not seen any information displayed on their website about the Coronavirus and which measures they’re taking. And this makes me think they don’t have a clear strategy on how to market their brand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you’re looking to market your brand, you must do so by defining the clear strategy you’ll follow. And then, communicate it to your audience.

Remember what happened to Scribe Media? After advertising their free training, their sales went up. I’m not saying this exact thing would happen to you. But having a clear strategy to help your customers and clients is much more helpful than doing nothing.

I mean, how can people even find out about Leadpages’ credit if they don’t reach out to their audience?

Don’t let people wonder “where’s the messaging”, “where’s the offer?”, “where’s the help?” Instead, clearly communicate your position during these uncertain times. 

And if you plan on helping your clients out in some way (a discount, a free month, a consultation, whatever) put it out there so your audience sees it. 

Again, the key is being proactive. Not reactive.

Conclusion

As Chris Ronzio, founder of Trainual said to me once: 

“There is chaos in every business, and if you’ve got opportunity, you’ve got chaos.”

Not seeing an opportunity in this global pandemic and economic outbreak is choosing to see the glass of water half empty when it’s really half full.

We all have an important role in this global crisis. And if you’re a business owner looking to keep scaling, you need to:

    1. Evaluate where your company, clients and/or customers are at.
    2. Define which of the examples outlined in this article will suit your business and your clients’ needs best.
    3. Take action.

What Tucker Max from Scribe Media told me has more validity today than ever. If we can’t stand by our mission during a global emergency, how can potential customers and clients trust us enough to work with us during the good times?

Now tell me something. Which of the examples shared by the successful companies above resonate more with your business model?

Let me know in the comments below because we want to keep adapting AutoGrow’s service to our loyal clients and customers like you 💪.

Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.

 

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