COVID-19 Marketing Challenges: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 Marketing Challenges: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 Marketing Challenges: What You Need to Know 1500 1000 Kraus Marketing

How to Respond to Coronavirus Marketing Challenges

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, global attention is focused on the virus and slowing its spread. With preventative social distancing and government-mandated closure of bars, restaurants, and significant gatherings of people, there has been huge disruption to everyday life. While these are necessary and beneficial steps to help combat COVID-19 and keep people safe, they have also had significant impacts on the business sector and global industry. If your business has been impacted by coronavirus, here are the biggest marketing challenges resulting from COVID-19 and how to respond to them.

Stock Running Out

An expected marketing challenge is tailoring advertising plans to current stock. In industries that have been less hard hit by COVID-19, sales are continuing despite current events. However, many businesses that rely on stock from China are facing unique difficulties. With over 80,000 coronavirus cases and government mandated quarantines, China has shut down much of its manufacturing. American businesses that rely on Chinese labor to produce their goods are running out of stock and unable to have more shipped. Even if business is booming—think items like gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and other products that have been flying off the shelves—these companies must assess their current stock and how long it will last. Advertising best-selling product while it’s available will certainly boost sales, but once that stock runs out and cannot be replenished, marketing plans must be adjusted. Whether it’s shifting to advertise other products that are still available or planning only for very short-term marketing while supplies last, successful marketing during the COVID-19 outbreak must take stock shortages into account.

Adspend Budgets Changing

During this difficult time, available adspend budgets are changing as businesses adjust to new marketing challenges. Even larger businesses in less-impacted industries are pulling their marketing budget as nervousness about the virus spreads. Facebook has already seen a decline in spending in travel, retail, packaged goods, and entertainment—industries representing 30-45% of Facebook’s total revenue. In 2019, about half of all global display ad revenue, a whopping $70B, went to Facebook. For these advertising giants, even a small percentage of decline can represent a lot of lost profit.

With Google estimating travel ad losses around 15-20% from COVID-19, it’s clear that affected businesses are pulling their adspend from major advertising platforms. However, despite this downward trend, the WARC still predicts an overall 7.1% increase from last year on global media spend. What this likely means is that businesses will save their adspend budget for the second half of the year, waiting out the virus. When the market begins to normalize again, there may be a marketing boom as businesses seek to capitalize on the improving conditions. This will create a lot of competition and may drive marketing prices up as businesses compete for consumer attention, so it’s important to keep in mind that utilizing ad spend now could help your business come out on top when things normalize. To be successful over the next year, businesses and marketers alike must adapt to changing adspend budgets in planning their marketing approach.

Reading the Room

A more obvious marketing challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak is simply reading the room. Even if your business plans to continue implementing their marketing as scheduled, your content likely needs to be redone. When people are concerned for themselves and their loved ones, nobody wants to see advertisements that are glib or ignore the reality of the outbreak. Although it can be tempting to try to lighten the mood, marketing that’s over-cheerful or tries to be too humorous can feel disrespectful. Instead, acknowledging the difficulties many families are going through and extending wishes for good health is a much better approach.

Review your marketing plan and scan for content that now seems out-of-place. It’s better to redo your copywriting than post an ad that seems inappropriate or insensitive. At the same time, it’s also ok to say yes to marketing opportunities that arise during this outbreak. Many businesses depend on trade shows or events that have been cancelled to help gain leads and drive sales. Without these in-person events, some businesses are looking to expand their digital efforts during the outbreak to offset lost opportunities. There will also likely be less marketing competition while the pandemic continues, which may mean a lucky break for businesses who continue to advertise. While you never want to profit off others’ hardships—like price gouging or buying and reselling necessary supplies—it’s ok to take advantage of marketing opportunities so long as your content is sensitive to the situation.


As COVID-19 continues to spread, its effects will increasingly be felt throughout the business world. Take care to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your business with the necessary precautions to prepare for the virus. Remember to wash hands frequently and practice social distancing, and reassess your marketing plans to adjust to these uncertain times. Although the coronavirus has brought with it a slew of new marketing challenges, with careful consideration and prudent action, it’s possible to prepare yourself to meet the difficulty head on.

Respond to any marketing challenge with confidence. Contact Kraus Marketing today for a strategy consultation or for any of your marketing needs.

    Kraus Marketing