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Marketing Best-Practices During COVID-19. Building Success During Uncertainty

I recently interviewed marketing veteran Jeff Daniels on how organisations can overcome revenue hurdles during COVID-19. The following article summarises the interview and contains advice and guidance for best practice marketing during COVID-19.

Jeff recently joined Precision for Medicine as Executive Director, Strategic Development, and previously worked with several clients on COVID-19 response as a marketing strategist. His experience also includes senior marketing roles at genomics leaders WuXi NextCODE and FDNA. 

It’s crucial to build your digital strategy on strong foundations, and – believe it or not – the current crisis might just be a great opportunity to take stock, revisit some important marketing fundamentals and challenge some long-held beliefs about your market and your audience.

Before you start evaluating digital options, it’s recommended that you spend some time working on both (1) product alignment and (2) marketing alignment.

Product Alignment

STEP 1. Take Inventory

Set everything you offer out on the table (literally) with no presumptions of how it should be packaged, priced or used. This should include your capabilities. For example, you may make and sell plastic containers, so one of your capabilities is fabricating plastics. These capabilities may be used to meet other relevant demands in this season.

STEP 2. Review the Market

Have a routine of taking the pulse of the market. The easiest way to do this is to pretend to be a customer for each of your product lines, and then search for the product. By searching online, through retailers, and through word of mouth, you will gather several pieces of information that will ensure you position yourself for success in each season.

Begin this search by answering these questions:

  • Who is selling similar products or services? These are your Competitors.
  • Who are those Competitors targeting to sell their offerings to? These are your Customer Segments.
  • Who is the person responsible for selecting and purchasing these offerings? These are your Buyers.
  • Who influences the Buyer’s decision, both internal and external to the company? These are your Influencers.

Then spend some time creating a list of other ideas of how your offerings might be used that perhaps no one has thought of yet. This is especially a useful exercise when thinking about the current COVID-19 situation. You’ll be surprised by how long these lists will get. For example, a Kentucky distillery knew they had the capabilities to produce alcohol, and so they had the idea to mix up the ingredients a little to make hand sanitizer.

STEP 3. Align your Products to your Market

Once you have all this market intelligence, you can do many activities to re-align your offerings to outperform the competition, such as a SWOT Analysis for each of your offerings.

Marketing Alignment

STEP 1. Personas / Targeting

With all the intelligence gathered in the above tasks, your marketing team can perform well. One important task for marketing is to segment the Buyers and Influencers into Personas, which can be used for precision campaigns aimed at pulling certain types of people—Personas—through a lead funnel made specifically for their values and needs. If you are not familiar with Persona-based marketing, I’d encourage you to read up on it. Here’s a Hubspot’s resource on Personas.

STEP 2. Align your CRM

Work with your CRM administrator to ensure all your Leads and Contacts are properly tagged with the appropriate Persona. This enables targeted marketing. Tools like Hubspot have built in Persona functionality, while tools like Salesforce may require creation of a custom field.

STEP 3: Review Existing Channels

For each Persona, review your Competitors’ marketing to see where they are engaging with Leads. Also try putting yourself into the shoes of each Persona to see where they might be consuming content. Or even better yet, reach out to some of them to ask where they learn and engage with content.

For example, if one of your Persona’s is a Systems Biologist, you might look for the largest disease research events, trade organization, publications, and digital communities. Once you know where they consume content, spend some time consuming the content yourself until you discover what types of content are of high interest. You will want to create similar content in future marketing campaigns to garner their interest.

STEP 4. Build Your Marketing Plan

You now have the information you need to launch successful campaigns. Your Marketing team can begin to shop for the best channels and content for your goals and based on your budget. Track each campaign along the way using reporting tools, and demand metrics from any partners you work with. Increase investment wherever you see ROI and shut down low-performing tasks.

This graphic depicts an example of how product messaging can be deployed through a variety of mediums to segmented customer types based on their position in the sales/marketing funnel.

Two Important Digital Marketing Opportunities to Build On

Conversational Marketing

Consider deploying conversational marketing strategies to provide immediate, authentic, meaningful interaction to customers in a digital space. Some ideas include:

Livechat. Create the experience of in-person customer service, without being in person.

Facebook Messenger. A direct, conversational way for people to take action where they already spend their time.

ChatBots. Scale customer service without adding new staff.

Upselling existing customers

Consider upselling customers to gain added revenue without added marketing investment.

Up-sell past customers

Would your past clients invest more if they knew they could help? Orphan care programs are targeting existing sponsors of orphans, letting them know the child or program they support is suffering due to the pandemic, and that a new purchase can help. Existing sponsors will empathize (social identity theory) and feel personally compelled to invest more to relieve their dissonance.

Up-sell new customers

Use a tripwire to increase the revenue on a sale. At the check-out screen, or in a communication sent out after a purchase, give customers a compelling reason to make an additional purchase such as a limited time only discount on another product, or a discount on a more upscale version of whatever they are buying, or an add-on product that is related to their current purchase.


This article is one of a series of articles designed to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some other posts in this series:

Why death by webinar will soon become a real thing (and what to do about it).

Why helping, not selling, is the smartest marketing approach right now.

How to evaluate new webinar partnerships

3 major forces re-shaping the business landscape due to COVID-19