I’ve spent weeks sitting alone in our 2500 sq. ft. office, isolated, fielding a flurry of inbound emails and phone calls and intercepting the chatter from remote marketing teams around the country, all looking for some leadership and for someone to tell them what to do next.

It’s surreal, and I can’t help but compare it to an army general coordinating wartime maneuvers from a bunker somewhere.

Some people are panicking and scrambling to react to the situation. Some are just wondering how to fill the voids in their calendars, once reserved for tradeshows and events. And some are finding themselves with surplus budgets that were earmarked for these events, wondering how to best put the funds to use.

All of them are looking for answers.

It’s natural to respond to these uncertain times by diverting all your attention and resources to coping with the current situation. That’s not necessarily a poor strategy, but it’s a bit short-sighted. At some point, life will go back to normal and your pre-epidemic marketing plans and strategies may once again be relevant. So it’s important to balance marketing in wartime with preparing to hit the ground running when life gets back to “normal” – being conscious of the fact that no one really knows what that new normal will look like.

We have a unique vantage point of all this here at DarkRoast, and are able to view the way the situation is affecting marketing people both at the ground level and from 10,000 feet above.

We’re an integral part of the high performing marketing teams that we serve. Our project management app is their central command center, and our graphic designers are on the virtual front line, working hard and collaborating with the people that we serve.

Because of this, we’re observers and influencers of marketing decisions whose effects resonate across the country.

In addition to killer award-worthy graphics, we also provide people with the answer to “What should I be working on?” In times like these, that appears to be more valuable than anything else we can offer.

With an increasing number of those conversations happening, we’re finding ourselves helping more and more people react to the day’s events while they continue to plan and think long term.

And although our MO is to meet the specific needs of the people and brands we serve, a number of action items have surfaced from these conversations that would apply to just about anyone. So, I thought I would share them. If you’re in the marketing world and wondering “What should I be doing now?” you may find these helpful.

Create content, lots of content

Dedicate your newfound time and resources to creating content: some that is relevant to today and some evergreen content that will live on when life gets back to “normal.”

Every serious marketing person knows that in today’s world (Pre, Pending, and Post Coronavirus) content is a critical component to any well-balanced marketing strategy. However, surprisingly few marketers regularly put out content for their brands – or themselves.

I speak with dozens of marketing professionals around the country every day. And just about everyone says the same thing. We’d like to produce more content, but we don’t have the time.

Well, now you probably do. So, start making content.

Some of you have found yourselves with large empty blocks of time on your calendars that were once reserved for tradeshows and events.

And almost all of you are now working from home, free from meetings, drop-ins, watercooler chats, and any other time-sucking distractions.

Some of you are even sitting on surpluses in your budget as well. You can use some of that added budget to double down on content creation by using outsourced solutions as well – copywriters, designers, etc.

These are truly sour times, so you might as well start making lemonade.

If you’re looking for some ideas of stuff to work on, grab a free digital copy of our Ultimate Encyclopedia of Marketing Stuff

At last – update your website

I’ve never met a marketing person who didn’t think their website could use updated content, more resources, or a refreshed look at any given time. They just never “have the time.”

In a past life, we were a web design and development agency. And whether we had just launched a site, or it had been around for years, there was always something the client was planning to add or change or fix on their website – as soon as they had the time.

Well, now you do.

And you’re not the only one with extra time on your hands.

Much like the rest of the economy, agencies and developers are taking a bath, so this might be an opportune time to engage them. Like you, many of them are seeing their schedules open up and would probably be willing to offer attractive rates in exchange for some guaranteed work in times like these.

If you’re looking for simple advice and fixes that will have a massive impact on your website performance, check out The 5 Minute Marketing Makeover by Donald Miller– it’s a must-watch. Even if you do nothing else recommended in this post, you should watch these videos.

Build relationships – virtually

You might be reluctant to perform any type of outreach during these times, but a message from you might be just what people need right now.

Right this minute millions of recently displaced working professionals are in isolation, with a LinkedIn tab open, just waiting for something to pop up that they would ordinarily ignore but would now serve as a much-welcomed distraction.

And the odds of catching someone out of the office or “at a bad time” are at an all time low. So, if you wanted to build a new partnership, source suppliers, or just extend your networks, now’s your chance.

Even direct sales messages might be a welcomed distraction. If it leads to the recipient spending 5 to 10 minutes checking out your website and learning something about what you sell, then it seems that both of you will have benefited.

Test products

There are plenty of game-changing tools out there that will help you improve productivity, automate workflow, scale production, or increase marketing effectiveness. You just haven’t found the right ones yet.

As marketers, we all see the ads and get the emails. We tend to ignore the endless parade of advertisements for the next best marketing tool that dance across our screens, blending into the rest of the noise.

But there’s a good chance that a couple of these may be very useful to you and your team once they’re blended into your ecosystem.

So why not try some out now?

Most of those products are offered as SaaS solutions with some type of freemium version. So, if you’re looking for a productive way to spend some time, maybe responding to the call to trying a new tool or service for free isn’t a bad idea.

And if you find something that fits, now’s also a great time to get your team trained on it, so you can go full speed ahead when life gets back to “normal.”

If you want to start test driving some new marketing tools and need a place to start, check out 48 Best Marketing and Sales Tools to Look In 2020 by salesmate.io.

Learn about Zapier

Zapier is not just any marketing tool, so it deserves its own category. Given the significance it will have in the marketing community, it’s worth blocking off some time to check it out.

I’m very bullish on Zapier.

“Zapier is the glue that connects thousands of web apps.”

As marketers and business people, we all need a way to connect all the tools and apps that we use regularly. Period.

Marketing communities, in general, have nailed branding, messaging, content, and communities, so I don’t expect to see much in terms of advancements there over the next couple of years.

Instead, the next generation of superhuman marketers will be focused on hacking productivity, efficiency, and automation instead, so Zapier and any other second-mover platforms rising in its wake will become ubiquitous.

In fact, I’d predict that within the next few years, if you want to be taken seriously as a marketer, “Proficient with Zapier” will be a required line item on your resume.

I’d recommend Zapier’s Getting Started Guide if you’re looking for a good place to start.

Test ads

If the world’s best data scientists were tasked with creating the ideal situation to split test digital ad strategies, content, and audiences, they would probably conceive a scenario like the one we are all in right now.

The majority of the population is in isolation, and although our nation’s health officials would like to think that they are spending their time mastering home workout routines, the reality is most are not.

Sadly, most people are sitting around staring at their devices, waiting for distractions to pop into their field of view and take them on a journey. And who can blame them? So if your product or content can make someone’s life better, or at the very least provide some dopamine induced by the fantasy of what you can offer them, then you have a moral obligation to deliver it to as many people in the most efficient and effective manner as possible.

The best way to do that is to run some ads, see how people respond, revise, then run more ads.

If you’re new to split testing (or A/B Testing) or pay-per-click ads and need a place to start, I recommend A Beginner’s Guide to A/B Testing: Better Pay-Per-Click Ads by Neil Patel.

And that’s all for now.

The inner salesmen in me says that I should conclude this article with some call to action, but something about that just doesn’t feel right at the moment.

So I’ll just leave you with – I hope this is helpful.

Stay safe and get stuff done.

Trevor @ DarkRoast