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by: Jordan White, 5by5 VP, Client Director

Raise your hand if your marketing plan looks the same today as it did in January. No one? Yeah, we get that. We have the privilege of working with dozens of organizations across all different industries and verticals. From startups to legacy ministries, from tech companies to healthcare, every marketing team on the planet has been dramatically impacted during 2020. And if you’re like a lot of people, right now you’re looking at 30 to 90 days of marketing initiatives that need to be reevaluated, rescheduled, or possibly completely rethought. 

But here’s the good news–in a world where everything is unprecedented, there are still a lot of ways to be helpful to your audience. In fact, I bet you’ve already thought of several of the below ideas but it just hasn’t been the right time or place to try them. So let’s take a look through some ideas that it might just be time to “un-shelf.”

First Things First, Revenue 

Amid a global crisis and the economic ramifications therein, you may be in a position where finding ways to create revenue trumps all other priorities. If that’s the case, here are a few projects worth consideration: 

1.  Create a new entry offer 

Consumers are more cost conscious than ever, which likely means that if you sell products and services, you’re seeing a decline in folks willing to pay for the amazing things you offer. A micro offer is simply an entry-level offer that allows customers to try out your brand for an amount less than a typical purchase (obviously offering less value as well). Here are a few possible micro offers that might be relevant: 

  • Offer online coaching or your introductory step at a can’t-say-no rate
  • Package up your best resources and offer them at a dramatically reduced rate
  • If you’re a nonprofit, ask for small one time donations for a specific cause 


2. Sell forward 

One great way to generate revenue today is to offer discounted products and services in the future. For instance, you can offer gift cards at a reduced rate or services to be redeemed once business is able to return to whatever version of “normal” allows your organization to operate. It’s also important to remember that when you promote initiatives like this, it’s not all about the money savings for your audience. They are choosing to support your organization because they believe in you. Ask them to support you and show them how much it means to you.


Be as Helpful as Possible

To borrow a page from marketing mastermind Seth Godin, great marketing is all about being helpful to the right people – building a tribe. Chances are, you know who your tribe members are and what they care about. They may not have the financial ability to support your operations in the way that you’re used to, but they’re still your tribe and right now they’re hurting. Here are a few projects to take off the shelf that just might help serve them and deepen your relationship with them. 


3. Conduct market research

The world’s far different than it was just a few weeks ago. Whatever we all thought we knew about our audience has changed dramatically. When it comes to how your organization responds to a crisis, you can’t afford to assume you know what your audience is dealing with. We’ve had great success over the past few weeks with rolling out quick turn surveys that help businesses and nonprofits get a grasp on what’s keeping their customers up at night. 

My recommendation is that you put together a short survey asking your audience a few questions about how the current crisis is impacting their lives and deploy it as quickly as possible. 


4. Share your thought leadership in new (lo-fi) ways

You’re an expert at what you do, your audience likely has a lot more time on their hands, that’s a pretty good recipe for your team to ramp up the production of content (articles, videos, blog posts, etc.) to help your audience. Here’s one of the few silver linings about today’s environment for small marketing teams – whatever quality barriers existed pre-crisis have gone the way of the Dodo bird (at least for now). If SNL can shoot weekly shows from their iPhones and MacBooks, then you can definitely post great content without great production.

A few ideas to get you started: 

  • Host regular Q&A sessions on Instagram where you answer your audience’s questions
  • Record interviews with Zoom, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime of your key leaders interviewing other leaders in your industry and post them on YouTube
  • Create a landing page full of all the relevant links to resources your audience might need during this time


5. Thank your customers/donors in shockingly human ways 

Everyone knows it’s much more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. So let’s make sure the existing customers feel as appreciated as possible. Go out of your way to be human, shockingly human if you can. 

A few ideas to get you started: 

  • Write hand written letters to top customers thanking them for their business and asking how you can help
  • Have key leaders record personal thank you videos and text or email them to customers/donors 
  • Create a phone tree and have your team call and thank customers for their support


6. Do something fun 

If it’s on-brand to bring some levity, then now might be a great time. One of the best examples I saw of this recently was a sports site that ran an Instagram March Madness style tournament of top fictional TV characters. I think the best way to kick this off would be to pose the question to your team of what’s a fun thing they’ve always wanted to do for your customers/donors. Figure out the most doable and exciting of the bunch and execute on it.


Reach New People 

Reaching new people is incredibly important but can be especially challenging at a time when there’s so much uncertainty in the world. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no opportunity. Many of these projects are the sort of important but not urgent that many of us have seen reprioritized over the years, but it just might be time to dust them off and move them to the top of the list. 


7. Develop relationships with influencers 

Many of the people who were once very hard to get a hold of have become much more available over the past few weeks. Maybe it’s time to reach out to some very targeted (i.e. not Taylor Swift) influencers in your space to see if they’re interested in a partnership. Their rates may have dropped in this crisis, but it’s likely that their audience hasn’t shrunk at all. 


8. Develop strategic partnerships with non-competitive organizations 

This may be the most influential idea on the list. Think for a moment about all of the organizations who serve the same people as you but don’t provide the same value. Those organizations are potential goldmines of opportunity (and you for them). It’s like if your local donut shop (that doesn’t have great coffee) and your local coffee shop (that doesn’t have great donuts) teamed up to provide a combined delivery of great donuts and great coffee. In a regular economy that kind of partnership and innovation typically gets thrown in the “sounds complicated” category, but these days anything that provides customers more value should be on the shortlist of new initiatives.


Final thoughts

The best shortcut to building great relationships is to not take any shortcuts at all. Show up for your customers with empathy and as much value as you can possibly muster. Get creative and build relationships in the old fashioned way. You got this! 


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