Stay the Course, Adjust the Sails. Marketing and Communications Doesn’t Stop for COVID-19

by Avatar in Blog, Industry News March 21, 2020

For so many businesses, you may think or really know that there’s no point or ROI in marketing as aggressively as you might otherwise have, in this 2020 Spring. Because you’re closed, paused, or waiting to see what happens.

For many others, this is the right time to ramp up or adjust online marketing, to sustain and capture business now and prepare for the economy to unleash into Summer. Which it will, we’re convinced.’s very unique role as a provider of online marketing services to an extremely diverse portfolio of regional businesses and industry segments provides us the following perspectives.

Everybody’s Online

This is the time to create, nurture, entertain and inform online audiences, keep your value, brand part of the daily information-sharing ecosystem. Recycle evergreen content, get subscribers, try out new communication styles, refresh your branding, inject some new personalities and empathy into community-focused messaging.


Your existing customers, vendors, business partners need to hear from you – contact them, let them know your status, ways you can help, offers to adjust or customize what you provide, solicit their feedback or input regarding how we get through this together.

Small Business Help

If you are a large business, look out for your small business community – what can you offer, how can you help, even help them advertise, communicate – particularly if they are part of your supply chain, referrals, business network, or personal community.

Give work to their employees, hopefully who are “furloughed” vs. “fired”. Help promote, refer, “like” their online dialog, offers, content. Be part of a rising tide, which will come.

Offline Spending May Be Down

But online really isn’t, particularly for immediately-consumable digital products and services. Ramp up marketing for those, take this time to shape your audience, get clarity on the competition.

General consumer purchasing and longer-term investing is also slowing – but that only means demand is building for next month, the month after, etc.

All At-Home Consumers Will Have “Emergency” Situations/Needs

While this must be addressed, but perhaps leveraging more online means and methods – like emergency Dentistry, an unexpected legal issue, HVAC failure, etc. This is EVERY DAY now, i.e. the separation between the work week and weekend is wholly blurred.

“Emergency” or otherwise pressing issues which families and individuals will actually focus on, now they’re likely less engaged in daily work, events, community service. Advertising must increase for this kind of demand that will only increase over the next month, and which we’re already seeing among the professional service providers.

Many Brick-and-Mortar Businesses can Shift and Increase Their Services or Customer Engagement Online

Not all may be paid, but all engagement fills the pipeline for future purchasing and consumer interest.

Additional Perspectives That May Be Helpful to Consider

Professional Services (Dentists/Lawyers/Physicians/Mental Health Providers, Accountants, IT support, etc.)

Online consulting, telehealth, information advisories, online group sessions/conferences – there’s all kinds of interaction your patients and customers need, want, maybe don’t know about, keeping you an engaged, relevant part of the response to this national situation. IT goods and services providers – there’s so much you can offer this tremendous audience of online computer users.

There also may be some additional time for consumers to prepare and plan for longer-term needs, as big decisions on elective procedures, delayed tax filings, delayed legal actions push deadlines back, but don’t cancel them.

Go National – many regulations are being relaxed right now, regarding professional communications; your services and expertise are in need across the country.

Home Systems (Plumbers/HVAC/Electrical/Security/Damage Repair)

While there’s an expected reluctance by homeowners and renters to have new people in the house, these systems are obviously essential, and will continue to require immediate service.

Steps can be taken to limit personal interaction, keep vigilant about disinfecting, do more evaluation, communication and problem-solving online with the customer sharing pictures and video, and you sharing more online content.

Home Services (Home Remodeling, Realtors, Landscaping, Interior Design/Staging, Moving, Cleaning, Junk Removal)

In this segment, while all spending is stalling to a degree, it appears there’s a clearer separation between those services offered indoors or out. The annual cycle of home buying/selling and moving appears to continue, with increased attention to personal separation and disinfecting – though in-person home staging, visits, open houses must move more effectively online.

Outdoor work can and should be promoted heavily – it’s non-intrusive to quarantine barriers, and this is in fact the time of year when work can’t be ignored. Do you normally provide repair/cleaning services indoors? Shift/add services to outdoors, the garage, cars in driveways – whatever you can think of.

Quite a bit of information-sharing, design, ideation can be done online with prospective customers – perhaps requiring some additional investment in Internet tools and software, but this is an essential investment for capturing the online audience for the future.

Refinancing and low mortgage rates are driving unprecedented activity – while it’s actually a bit difficult to get these financial transactions complete right now, there’s a lot of equity getting freed up for home improvement projects – you might reach out and advertise, provide tailored project ideas for those in this situation, who are considering projects this year earlier than otherwise.

Retail Sales and Services (Entertainment, Restaurants/Bars, Hotels/Travel Agencies, Point-of-Sale Goods and Services, Mobile Services, Brick-and-Mortar Businesses and Deliveries)

This segment is in fact hit the hardest right now, as business simply disappears, and business owners pause spending, growth, service altogether.

This may obviously not be the right time to continue and grow online “advertising” – but owners might take this opportunity to plan, design, consider how their brand and products will emerge quickly once the marketplace turns back on, and the mad scramble for consumer eyeballs takes off.

It’s the right time to nurture existing customers (i.e. email campaigns) and highlight events far enough in the future that’s reasonable (we believe July is the right target).


This segment generally continues to operate, though slower in some sectors (particularly if there’s an in-person component, like in-person training).

Most large acquisitions/procurements are indeed delayed, slowing the business of the entire BD/sales community (and therefore interfering with quarterly objectives).

Business is actually accelerating fast, however, if the products or services are part of the logistics and supply chain required by Federal or local governments (or citizen segments) and their suppliers to deal with this change in our national attention.

Obviously, nearly all opportunities to use online or offline marketing at events, conferences, government-industry days, local business networks or any other professional gatherings is gone – but only for this year.

Fill that pipeline, find acquisition plans and procurement opportunities, jam it all into the top of the funnel – you might net some very new, unique business.

We have, actually, signed some very interesting new work, driven by this change in local business service models.

Extend Your Business Model

Are you in fact within one of the categories above, and perhaps can shift your goods or services to market and sell to another?

B2B services – can you offer and sell an information package, or retail consultation?

Home Services – do you have anything you can build, assemble or produce to sell directly to consumers?

Entertainers, restaurants – can you package and sell recipes, songs, tutoring consultations online? How about food trucks?

So here’s the main questions, for you, the business owner/operator:

  • What’s your plan of attack for the marketing and advertising you’ll need to turn on this Summer, getting started now with planning, testing?
  • Can you retool and offer value to the national response right now? To newly-quarantined families and groups of people?
  • Can you shift online?
  • How can you stay engaged and communicating with your existing customer, all those in your pursuit and BD pipeline, your stakeholders, teammates, partners, suppliers and others that collectively represent – directly or indirectly – the values, capabilities and community presence of your company?

Call or email your network today – let them know your status, how you can help, what your plans are looking forward.

At, we aren’t stopping for a minute. We’re all online, working hard.

We’re helping and prepared to help all our customers, partners and the regional DC, Virginia and Maryland business community to tailor, adjust, maintain, accelerate, overhaul or strategize any and all digital or offline marketing techniques that make sense in these times. We will continue to maintain/update your websites.

We’ll keep the online ads running, and critically inspect the data and results, adjusting quickly as needed. We’ll generate new, useful, compassionate, interesting content across all online channels and social media – engaging existing and prospective customers.

We’ll stay involved and ramp up our participation in your “next quarter” business and marketing planning, with new ideas, new schedules, new branding marketing service provider Northern VA

Probably most important, we’re ready and prepared to help you communicate with your communities – i.e. additional focus on what’s known as “PR & Communications”, in addition to “Marketing, Advertising and Web Technology”, our core focus.

Touch base, check in, drop us a call, Zoom, Skype, email, tweet, whatever.  We’re listening, and ready to help out.

Ted and Kelly McLaughlan – and our entire professional online marketing services team.