Crisis Marketing Tips – National Emergency Marketing

Crisis marketing strategies are designed to carry a business through an economic downturn, a recession or a slump in the market.

For large organisations they either append the existing marketing strategy or bridge the crisis gap. They provide a managed cost, resource light plan to maintain a market presence.

For large organisations a crisis marketing strategy sits in silence ready to be called into action. It has been designed, researched and developed alongside existing strategies and can be implemented with relative ease.

However, for many small businesses, a crisis marketing strategy is surplus to the hectic day-to-day running of a business or perhaps it has never even been considered. Small businesses often do not have the luxury of a marketing team with years’ of experience. Often, a small businesses comprises of one or two individuals. But, when faced with a global crisis they do one of two things:

  • Panic and pause all marketing efforts in an attempt to manage cash flow
  • Stay calm and adjust to the environment

In this article we aim to provide small business owners with a breakdown of what a crisis marketing strategy might look like. We also explain elements to consider and how to implement the strategy. But, most of all, this article aims to deliver a simple message: marketing does not need to stop during a crisis.

So, if you’re a small business owner and are wondering what you could be doing to keep your business afloat during a crisis, read on.

Tactics, Strategies and Goals

First and foremost, it is vital that business owners understand the difference between strategy and tactics.

In very simple terms, a marketing strategy is the road to a long-term goal. It is holistic and the most effective strategies are the simplest. Most businesses sell an emotion. Netflix, for example, does not sell online, on-demand media. They sell entertainment freedom and their marketing efforts reflect that emotion. That is a strategy.

Marketing tactics are methods or techniques an organisation may implement to keep their business in line with their strategy. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and email marketing are all marketing tools available to stay on the right road.

How does a marketing strategy and marketing tactics differ? Easy. A marketing strategy is permanent. It rarely changes. Tactics, however, do change. Tactics give businesses the ability to flex to various circumstances, such as during a crisis.

Business owners should be able to define their strategy. They should be able to use the tools at hand to stay on track whatever the environment. Rarely is it a good tactic to stop all marketing tactics.

Remove Emotion

If you’re a seasoned business owner, you may already be very aware that emotions should always be kept in check. Disgruntled clients, rising overhead costs and of course, crisis management.

A large part of riding out a crisis is to maintain composure. It would be folly to spend money on services that cannot bring a return. However, most small businesses with level-headed owners can survive a crisis while still maintaining key marketing fundamentals. These include techniques such as brand management, industry leadership and above all, delivering the businesses core message. Good times will return. Don’t sink to the bottom of the industry.

Community Spirit

Many small businesses serve their local community. These include tradesmen, shop owners, cleaners and many more. For these businesses, content marketing and social media can be a very cost-effective tactic during a crisis.

However, pay attention to what other businesses are doing on social media. If you’re in the middle of a crisis, you’ll notice that social media is full of political, opinionated propaganda. There’s no avoiding it.

So be that shining light. Create content or social media posts that uplift your community. Have the local council made a particular attempt that is worthy of sharing? Perhaps a small group of people are making efforts to improve the local community during the crisis. These are all share-worthy posts.

If you’re a plumber during a crisis, society has more pressing concerns than a reduction in plumbing prices. But by sharing something warm and uplifting during uncertain times, people will pay attention. In effect, it is a method of ingratiating your business into the local community. To be honest, this is a key social media approach that should be adopted during more stable times.

Blogs can be used in a similar fashion. However, blogs should really be written using language that will be relevant even after the crisis.

The key deliverable here is to become part of your community. Have a think about your marketing strategy. You’ll probably find that becoming part of your community on social media plays into that strategy.

National Heroes

Online businesses that offer a nationwide delivery service can utilise a similar approach as local businesses. In hard times, media can be overwhelming. But, businesses or individuals that provide uplifting news or share motivating articles to raise a smile or warm the hearts of their followers will be remembered. Be helpful. Be relevant. Stay present.

Email Marketing

Email marketing should be a tactic in most marketing strategies. Many businesses have an email list but do not understand their effectiveness. Many business owners feel that email lists won’t work for their business. Few business owners know how to create a healthy email list and know how to use them to their advantage.

When used well, an email marketing list is a powerful tool. They can be used to develop relationships with clients. They can be used to demonstrate industry leadership. However, they can also be used to build a group of fans who will talk to their friends about your business.

Rule number one: effective use of an email list does not include direct selling. Nobody wants to receive an email that is aimed at selling something.

Build an email list of engaged customers. Offer them an incentive for being on your list. Share personal information about you or your business. If you plan to send an email every week, make it clear during the initial sign up process and keep that promise. Most of all, respect your customers and provide your email recipients with value.

These are all rules that apply to everyday email marketing tactics. However, during a crisis, reach out to your clients to demonstrate that you care and provide added value.


Crisis marketing is not an opportunity for profiteering.

Crisis marketing is a plan to use a set of tactics to keep your business direction in line with your strategy.

People are smart enough to see through any attempts to capitalise on a crisis. In fact, the chances are that your business will suffer if you try.

Crises are significant periods in our existence that require society to work together and overcome the problem as a whole. Your business has a voice. Use it to help others. Harness the strength and reach of your business to help your community no matter how large or small. When the tables turn and normality is restored, who do you think society will turn to; those who attempted profiteering, or those who shone as a beacon of hope and brought a community together?

Pay Per Click

You may have pay-per-click campaigns running. You may also be tempted to pause everything and in many cases that may be the right decision. But don’t make that decision in haste. If you rely on PPC advertising in stable times, pausing your campaigns will cause your web traffic to sink. Search engines such as Google will lower your ranking and regaining that presence post-crisis will be tough.

It makes sense to lower bids and budgets, of course. But to pause all marketing efforts could be catastrophic to your business growth when normality is restored.


A business that is forced to close its doors during a crisis still has a shop window.

The website.

Most businesses have a website. Make sure that website reflects the situation. It should be edited to provide clear and concise language that informs visitors of the business plans. If the business is forced to close for three-weeks but will be back open, make it clear. Offer visitors an opportunity to receive a free or discounted something post-crisis to keep their custom. Guide them to your social media pages so they can stay up to date on when your business will reopen. Once they follow your Facebook page, you can convince them further than you are community-focused. You can reiterate your message; your marketing strategy.


In summary, the old adage, keep calm, is key to business survival during a crisis. Visualise your marketing strategy. Take stock of your tactics and if necessary, adjust them to suit the current climate.

The way ahead may be foggy and blurred with politics, opinions and negativity. but stay focused on the horizon. Stay focused on your goal. Do not deviate from your road, your strategy. Adjust your tactics to maintain momentum.

Most of all, stay positive, build your community and make a difference.

At DBS Digital, we provide Digital Marketing Services and Website Services to help get your business through tough times. Our dedicated team is here to help. To learn more, contact us today.

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