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Marketing in Times of Fear

These past few weeks have been a complete blur. It’s like we’ve gone to sleep and woken up in a bad apocalypse movie. Sports are cancelled, schools have been cancelled and people are staying home from work. And for some reason there’s a mad dash on toilet paper?! Life as we know it has been put on pause.

Marketing in time of fear

As a marketer, we must realize there will be impact to our work due to COVID-19. People will be staying home more, perhaps shopping online more, or maybe saving their money because they are unable to work. During times of fear, habits will change and marketers should closely monitor the impacts. Here are some items to consider:

Your Customers

By now you’ve no doubt received a dozen or more emails from your favorite brands telling you they are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and ready to handle its potential impacts on their business. That is because during times of fear, the most important thing a business can do is assure customers that you’re there for them. By telling them you’re there, that you’ve planned for things like this and that their data and information will be accessible and safe (if that applies to your business), its one less thing for them to worry about. (It also saves you from many phone calls asking to confirm these items.) Your customers and their needs during times of fear should be your number one consideration (after the safety of your staff). When the virus passes and life returns to normal, those customers will remember how well they were treated and that you cared.


If your marketing team has been in the middle of campaign testing, just stop. The results will not be useful to you. As mentioned above, behaviors are changing because of COVID-19. When behaviors are situationally changed, the results of testing will not be valid. So, save your money and pause your efforts until normalcy returns.


Review all of your current marketing messages for potential misperceptions or phrasing that could stoke fear because of the current situation. For instance, if your current marketing campaign says “Dreaming of a relaxing cruise…” that might not play as well today as it would have a month ago (because the CDC is not recommending people go on cruises right now due to virus outbreaks on several of them.) There’s no need to stop all marketing, but ensure the marketing you are investing in currently will not be misconstrued or hurt your reputation.

Social Media

Because people may be spending more time at home, they may turn their focus toward distractions or news sources, such as social media. They may provide more commentary or provide more negative feedback than normal. Whether because of fear, boredom or depression, it is likely this will happen. Monitor your social media accounts closely and work to shut down any negativity or fear mongering that may take place. Also, be sure to post only reliable and factual content during this time when misinformation is swirling around.

These are just a few items to consider during a national emergency or time of fear. I truly hope that all of you reading this blog stay healthy and take good care of yourselves. If there’s anything we can help with, please reach out.

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