A global crisis can either paralyze a marketing team or galvanize it to thrive. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s exactly what we’re seeing: some companies are cutting back on marketing (in some instances, laying off the entire marketing team), while others are being more agile and coming up with interesting ways of engaging their audience during these difficult times.

If you want to stay in , you can’t stay idle for long. As a business owner myself, I understand why many entrepreneurs would want to cut down completely on marketing activities. Being conservative feels like the safe choice when there’s uncertainly about how long the crisis will last. But we have to balance financial responsibility with the need to keep consumers informed and engaged when things get tough.

Related: 5 Ways Brands Can Reinvent Their Digital Marketing Strategy

In fact, long-term studies show that the right approach during economic uncertainty is to increase – not decrease – your marketing spend. The last thing you want is to be caught flat-footed and find yourself lagging your competitors when the revs up again.

For the most part, consumers are receptive to some marketing at this time. A recent study from the American Association of Agencies found that 43% of consumers find it reassuring to hear from brands. In addition, 56% said they like learning how brands are helping their communities during the pandemic. Only 15% said they?d rather not hear from companies.

That said, marketing during these times requires sensitivity to what’s going on in people’s lives and the flexibility to keep up with swift and swooping changes.

Start with customer empathy

COVID-19’s impact on consumer behaviors and attitudes cannot be understated. An ongoing study we’re conducting with our sister company Reach3 Insights recently found that 76% have recently picked up new habits, behaviors and routines in the wake of COVID-19. Of those people, 89% said they plan on keeping some of their new habits. Consumers are also trying new products, with 36% planning to continue using new brands they’ve tried after COVID-19.

Now is not the time to rely on assumptions. Any data you have from 6 weeks ago let alone 6 months ago is already out of date. As the consulting firm recently advised, CMOs must be proactive in monitoring changes to customer behaviors and purchasing needs while the crisis is unfolding.

Article re-posted from Entrepreneur.com

Author: Andrew Reid
Guest Writer
Founder and CEO, Rival Technologies