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10 Crisis Marketing Strategies to Keep in Your Back Pocket

crisis marketing

Table of Contents

Want to know the secret to crisis marketing success? It’s not about being the loudest voice in the room. It’s about being the most authentic. It’s about showing up, listening, and offering genuine support. Because when the world feels like it’s falling apart, people gravitate towards brands that feel like a steadying force.

These days, it doesn’t take much to say or do something you think is authentic, that ends up pissing off a bunch of people (like profitable customers). You’re need to be ready.

That’s where these 10 marketing strategies come in. They’re not about exploiting the situation or pushing your agenda. They’re about genuinely connecting with your audience, offering value, and building relationships that will last long after the crisis is over. So, are you ready to learn how to not just weather the storm, but come out stronger on the other side?

Crisis Marketing Table Of Contents:

Marketing strategies during a crisis
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Let’s face it – navigating a crisis as a business owner is like trying to steer a ship through a hurricane. It’s not easy, but with the right marketing strategy, you can come out on the other side stronger than ever.

I’m astonished at how many entrepreneurs live as if NOTHING will go wrong and when it does, all hell breaks loose. Think about it — you can’t be in business for any length of time without SOME kind of crisis rearing its ugly head. The question isn’t if there will be a crisis, rather WHEN a crisis happens, what should you do?

Obviously. the first thing you want to do is KEEP the customers you have. That means you have to get and stay connected. Research shows that the better experience and connection customers have with a brand, the less likely they are to leave.

The loyalty paradigm has changed dramatically since the Cola Wars of the ’70s. Today, loyalty—and consumer choice—don’t come down to one-or-the-other options. Today’s loyalty bottom-line comes down to consumers’ deepest expectations, and how they feel which brand measures up best. “Customer behavior and brand loyalty are now almost entirely governed by emotional values related to expectations, and expectations grow constantly,

— Agility PR Solutions

To truly connect with your audience during challenging times, focus on crafting digital marketing content that speaks directly to their needs and concerns. Your marketing efforts should prioritize building genuine relationships and offering support, rather than simply pushing products or services.

I’ve been through my fair share of crises as a business owner, and I can tell you that having a solid marketing plan is essential. It’s not about pushing sales or promoting your products – it’s about being there for your customers and showing them that you understand what they’re going through.

The Importance of a Crisis Marketing Management Plan

I can’t stress this enough – having a crisis marketing management plan is importabt for any business, no matter how big or small. It’s like having a life raft on that ship we talked about earlier. Without it, you’re just hoping for the best and praying you don’t sink.

Your crisis management plan should include everything from how you’ll communicate with your customers to how you’ll handle any negative press or backlash. It’s not something you can throw together overnight – it takes time and careful planning.

It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy. A simple checklist is good enough. What’s most important is that you’ve created it BEFORE there’s a crisis. Another important element is that it contains your formula for who will respond and how you will respond.

Crafting Your Crisis Communication Strategy

Marketing strategies during a crisis
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Transparency, empathy, and authenticity – these are the pillars of effective crisis communication. Your customers want to see that you’re not taking the situation lightly and that their concerns are your concerns.

That means being proactive in your communication efforts. Don’t wait for a crisis to happen before you start reaching out to your audience. Build those relationships now so that when tough times hit, they know they can trust you.

How to Get Through a Crisis

One of my favorite crisis marketing experts is Molly McPhearson. She is a staunch advocate of going “through” the crisis and not around it.

I don’t know, people. This is what I was taught — as soon as you smell a problem, get ahead of it, hit it straight on with transparency and honesty, and you’ll likely retain your customers as well as your brand reputation. It generally doesn’t go well for people who try to avoid or go around a crisis because — everyone can SEE you!

Anyway, back to the framework

  1. Own it: I just love this one. We are all human, stuff happens, admit it, own it. Literally say I made a mistake. Especially if you made a mistake. Absolutely, positively NO FAKE APOLOGIES! We see you, we know you’re avoiding and this will backfire. Just don’t do it
  2. Explain it: You don’t have to go into the nitty gritty, but explain HONESTLY. It can be as simple as “We were looking at comments and research that said X — and it turns out we clearly didn’t understand our customer.
  3. Fix it: What will you do to make it better? Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated or convoluted. But if you embrace your mistake as a mistake (not being an a-hole on purpose) the solutions would be obvious. In what ways can you fix what happened? How have you adjusted your system to make sure it doesn’t happen, and so on.

Building a Resilient Management Team

Of course, none of this is possible without a strong management team in place. You need people who are level-headed, adaptable, and able to think on their feet when a crisis hits.

I’ve seen too many businesses crumble because they didn’t have the right people in place to handle a crisis. It’s not enough to just have a plan – you need a team that can execute it flawlessly.

COVID-19 has forced marketers to rethink their budgets, with studies showing that 30-40% of spending usually goes towards travel. But now, it’s time to redirect those funds into digital marketing strategies. Being adaptable in your marketing efforts is more critical than ever.

Adapting Marketing Budgets in Times of Crisis

Speaking of budgets, it’s no secret that marketing budgets are often the first thing to get cut during an economic downturn. But I’m here to tell you that that’s a mistake.

If you want your business to thrive, you can’t ignore the power of online marketing and digital channels. People are spending more time than ever glued to their screens, making it the ideal moment to grab the attention of your target audience and build meaningful connections.

Prioritizing Digital Marketing Channels

So where should you be focusing your efforts? In my experience, social media and email marketing are two of the most effective channels during a crisis.

Social media is your direct line to your audience, letting you connect in the moment and show you’re always there for them. But with email marketing, your targeted messages land right in their inbox, ready to be read.

Leveraging Content Marketing for Engagement

Of course, none of this matters if you’re not creating content that actually resonates with your audience. During a crisis, people are looking for content that makes them feel safe, informed, and supported.

Don’t be shy – get real with your audience by crafting blog posts, videos, and social media content that tackles their pain points directly. Share your own stories and experiences to foster genuine connections and build that crucial customer loyalty.

Here’s a sobering thought: during the COVID-19 crisis, unemployment might soar to an astonishing 30%. With so many people facing job loss, it’s more important than ever to stay attuned to your audience’s challenges and requirements during these trying times.

Enhancing Customer Relationships Through Social Media

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – social media is a game-changer when it comes to building relationships with your customers. And during a crisis, those relationships are more important than ever.

But it’s not enough to just post a few updates and call it a day. You need to be actively engaging with your audience, responding to their comments and messages, and showing them that you care.

Social Media Crisis Management Tools

Picture this: your brand is facing a social media crisis, and you’re scrambling to keep up with the backlash. It’s a daunting task, but with the help of powerful social media management tools, you can take control of the situation and steer your brand to safety.

There are tons of tools out there that can help you monitor your social media channels, track mentions of your brand, and quickly respond to any negative comments or reviews. Trust me, investing in these tools is worth every penny.

According to recent studies, there is a high demand for new content as people are looking for entertainment during the crisis. So don’t be afraid to get creative with your social media content and give your audience something to smile about.

Maintaining Business Operations Amidst Potential Crises

Of course, all the marketing strategies in the world won’t matter if you’re not able to keep your business running during a crisis. That’s where contingency planning comes in.

You need to have a plan in place for how you’ll keep things moving if your supply chain is disrupted, if your employees can’t come into work, or if you have to temporarily close your doors.

Adjusting Product Offerings to Meet Current Needs

When a crisis hits, it’s time to get creative with your product offerings. Take restaurants, for example – if people can’t come to you, bring the food to them. Pivot to delivery or takeout and keep your customers satisfied.

The key is to be flexible and willing to adapt to the current situation. Don’t be afraid to try new things or experiment with different business models.

According to experts, businesses should focus on creating content that offers safety and reassurance to their audience during a crisis. So if you can find a way to position your products or services as a source of comfort or security, you’ll be ahead of the game.

The Role of Email Marketing in Crisis Situations

I know I’ve already mentioned email marketing, but it’s worth diving into a bit more. Because when it comes to reaching customers during a crisis, email is one of the most effective tools in your arsenal.

Think about it – people are already in their inboxes all day, every day. So if you can deliver a message that resonates with them and offers value, you’re much more likely to get their attention.

But again, it’s not enough to just blast out a generic message and hope for the best. You need to be strategic about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

When times get tough, savvy business owners know that building strong relationships is the key to weathering any storm. And there’s no better way to connect with your audience than through email marketing – it’s like a virtual lifeline keeping your brand afloat.

Protecting Your Brand During a Reputation Crisis

Finally, let’s talk about what happens when a crisis hits your brand’s reputation. Whether it’s a negative review, a social media backlash, or a full-blown PR nightmare, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’ll handle it.

The first step is to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. Sometimes, that means issuing a public apology or statement. Other times, it means working behind the scenes to make things right with individual customers.

Crafting an Effective Press Release

If you’re considering releasing a public statement, take the time to thoughtfully compose it. A well-crafted press release can go a long way in reducing the negative impact of a crisis situation, demonstrating to your customers that you’re addressing the issue head-on.

But a poorly written press release can do more harm than good. So take the time to get it right, and consider working with a PR professional if you’re not confident in your writing skills.

History shows that companies who keep marketing during tough times come out on top. So even if you’re dealing with a reputation crisis, don’t be scared to maintain your marketing momentum.

Understanding Changes in Consumer Behavior During Crises

At the end of the day, the key to navigating a crisis as a business owner is to understand how consumer behavior is changing. Because let’s face it – when the world is turned upside down, people’s priorities and needs change too.

Picture this: a financial crisis strikes, and suddenly, people are pinching pennies. Or a natural disaster wreaks havoc, leaving consumers focused on essentials. As a savvy marketer, you need to dive into these situations, understand how they impact buyer decisions, and pivot your marketing tactics to stay relevant.

For example, during a financial crisis, people may be more focused on saving money and cutting back on non-essential purchases. So your marketing message needs to reflect that and show how your products or services can help them save money or make their lives easier.

On the other hand, during a natural disaster, people may be more focused on safety and security. So your marketing efforts should focus on how your business is helping to keep people safe and provide essential services.

The secret to surviving any crisis? Stay in the know, be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice, and never lose sight of what matters most: your customers. Master these three things, and you’ll be prepared for anything.

Key Takeaway: 


Steering your business through a crisis? Focus on digital marketing and connect with empathy. A solid plan, strong team, and smart budgeting in online channels can make all the difference. Stay flexible, engage via social media and email, offer comforting content, and keep adapting to meet your audience’s changing needs.


FAQs in Relation to Marketing Strategies During a Crisis

How do you pivot your marketing strategy in a crisis?

Shift focus to digital platforms, ramp up social media engagement, and tailor content that meets the current needs of your audience. This approach helps maintain customer loyalty and ensures business continuity.

What are the five common marketing strategies?

The top five include content marketing for engaging stories, SEO for visibility, email campaigns for direct reach, social media to build community, and PPC ads for instant traffic. Together they form a solid foundation.

How to market during a recession?

Focusing on value-driven messaging is key. Adapt by highlighting affordability and reliability of your offerings. Boost online presence through cost-effective channels like social media and email marketing to keep engaging with your target audience without breaking the bank.

What is the role of marketing in a crisis?

In times of crisis, effective communication becomes crucial: updating customers promptly about any changes or how you’re tackling challenges while reassuring them through empathy-driven messages that align with their current sentiment can help sustain trust and brand reputation amid uncertainty.


Marketing during a crisis isn’t about taking advantage or pushing sales. It’s about being authentic, empathetic, and adaptable. By implementing these 10 strategies, you’ll not only help your business survive, but you’ll build stronger, more meaningful connections with your audience.

Remember, a crisis doesn’t last forever. But the relationships you build and the reputation you establish during tough times? Those can last a lifetime. So don’t just focus on the short-term. Keep your eye on the long game, and use these strategies to come out of this crisis stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.

The path ahead may be uncertain, but one thing is clear – with the right approach, your business can thrive, no matter what challenges come your way. So take a deep breath, stay focused, and most importantly, keep putting your audience first. Because in the end, that’s what truly matters.

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