Adapting Your Business and Marketing During Challenging Times

Marketing | Entrepreneur Life

Adaptability is defined as “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions”.

As very few businesses are operating the same way they were 2 weeks ago and COVID-19 is causing more and more changes to our everyday lives, this certainly qualifies as new conditions. We are experiencing an unprecedented change in the American way of life right now. Small businesses are fearful and the cost of doing business remains high.

Many small and medium sized businesses don’t retain the cash and assets that larger companies can tap into during tough times. If they don’t adapt throughout this challenge, they will face bigger problems on the other side.

Finding creative ways to stay in front of your customers even in non-revenue producing ways is essential right now. People will remember those who helped them during this time. This is your opportunity to serve your customer. The news and media are filling people’s heads with so much worry and anxiety but positive acts by companies and organizations are getting attention as well. I’m not saying we do positive things for the attention, I’m saying that there is mental bandwidth with your consumer for some feel-good vibes.

My favorite examples of businesses adapting:

  • Yoga studios, pilates studios, and other fitness facilities offering virtual classes
  • Creative delivery options- for food and beverage services
  • Automotive service centers offering drop-off and pickup without contact

These are examples of changing services- but what about adapting your marketing? Let’s talk about the three facets of marketing and how these can be adapted for the current climate.


We have to talk about this first. Especially given the cash flow position a lot of businesses are finding themselves in. This is not the time to spend more money. The economic forecast is not strong. Spending more to get in front of your customers right now will not work. But cutting everything will not serve you and will put you behind when things rebound. Which leads us to discuss marketing channels.


Start with this exercise, Take out a sheet of paper and write down all of the marketing channels you currently utilize.

These could include:

  • Newspaper
  • Direct Mail
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Paid Social Media Ads
  • Digital Display Ads

Now its time to list out how much you spend in each of these- either monthly, yearly, or quarterly whatever makes sense with your size and scale. Now take a hard look the ROI and the target audience for each of these. What has done well in the past? Most likely if it did well, it is because you were hitting your target audience. Too often I see marketing plans that are very broad and don’t effectively reach that target audience. Drill down into who that target audience is and figure out the best way to reach them.

The most budget friendly way to stay engaged with your audience is social media. This is a great opportunity to connect with and serve your followers on social media! And by budget friendly, I mean free. It costs nothing to post something inspirational or timely and reply to comments. Even if – well especially if – you have ‘someone on your team that handles that for you.’ Most likely you have the time right now to go a little deeper with these platforms. If social intimidates you- head to YouTube and look up some how to videos.


Sales messages have zero resonance right now. It really frustrated me last week how quickly some industries started pushing aggressive deals instead of adopting messages of compassion. The public reception was not warm. Did those businesses do some business last week, sure did. But at what cost?

Now is the best time to think about how your messaging can serve your customer. Remind them of why they did business with you in the first place. If you can’t physically serve them from your place of business, talk about ways to maintain a previous purchase, stay well during this time, help them dream of future plans. Be creative! If one more article tells me to stay calm, get sleep, and take care of myself during this time- I might scream. Yes, all good points but no-one is telling me anything new or useful at this point.

Final Thoughts

Adapting to this new situation is difficult- but with some creativity, we can all get through this together. Maybe you find a new way to serve your customers, maybe you use this time to develop a new product or service, maybe you even come out of this stronger and better than before. Remember that adaptability has two definitions, the first “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions” is how to adjust. But the second definition resonates with me a little more “the capacity to be modified for a new use or purpose”. Is this the time and opportunity you needed to make a pivot in your business offerings? I’m not saying it is time to sink a ton of money into product development right now. I’m suggesting looking at your business and seeing the opportunity to serve people in a new way.

If you liked this message – or something resonated with you. Please leave a review or share on social and tag me @katewinterds. I love seeing what’s working out there!