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Sales & Marketing

Sales and marketing professionals will need to adapt their current approaches to protect their teams, properly communicate to external audiences, capitalize on new opportunities and navigate evolving COVID-19 threats.

& Safety


& Threats


Health & Safety

Protecting Employees and Customers

Many organizations have leveraged physical sales tactics to support customers during the education, decision and onboarding process. Organizations will need to adjust this process to digital sales and marketing tactics to protect their employees and customers. Sales and marketing teams can support these efforts by providing engaging collateral and interactive omnichannel experiences to reach customers effectively. Easily accessible and informative digital content and experiences support sales conversations, while virtual events are opportunities to drive early-stage business development and build brand awareness.

For individuals who are required to complete in-person sales calls, organizations should prepare them not only with proper guidance, but also with access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Organizations with physical goods should publish interaction guidelines for employees and customers to reference on their websites and ensure proper sanitation occurs when sales or service is delivered to customers. Refer to the accompanying industry playbooks for advice and ideas to consider.

Communication and Messaging

Organizations are attempting to respond to the crisis and meet the changing needs of their audiences. Professionals must consider how to communicate the underlying and foundational elements of a brand, values and culture while also experimenting with new channels to engage their target audiences.

Marketing and sales leaders should review messaging when referencing the pandemic in sales conversations and marketing collateral. Sensitivity to the implications of the crisis for your clients and sharing information from credible and reputable sources will build trust. Organizations should also actively communicate safety and sanitation guidelines to employees and customers via digital channels and in physical spaces if necessary. Social media and websites are great avenues to keep stakeholders informed of changing protocols and procedures in light of COVID-19.

Business Practices

Digital Marketing

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital marketing to reach the marketplace. Increasing investments in social media, website design and other digital activities can help broaden your message to customers. Due to increasing web traffic, pay-per-click and social media ads have decreased in cost and are becoming more effective for reaching targeted groups. Additionally, direct email campaigns, videos, graphics, quizzes and interactive experiences can help re-create lost physical connection. For instance, the Downtown Farmers’ Market opened its season May 2 in a virtual setting providing opportunities for customers to interact with vendors and purchase goods. Similarly, the Des Moines Arts Center offers patrons a virtual showcase of their full collection. These experiences can support brand engagement for your organization.

Personalized Communication

A key to successful digital marketing and virtual sales is the proper management and utilization of customer data. Ensure you have the right customer relationship management, marketing automation, or other cloud-based data tools to leverage data to provide personalized messaging. Individuals are seeking authenticity and customized communication as they continue to be overwhelmed with information in a growing “attention economy.” Proper usage of data and effective storytelling in the messaging and delivery of communication can result in personal and meaningful connections with audiences.

Empathize with Customers

Sales and marketing professionals must understand the impact of COVID-19 on their customers and broader audience to effectively communicate and position products. Coach sales teams to listen carefully to the changing needs of customers and effectively positioning products/services in a way that meets them. Understanding the short-term impacts on customers, organizations can offer much-needed support to build long-term loyalty through quick support to alleviate identified challenges from COVID-19. Additionally, scheduled campaigns must demonstrate empathy and genuine care for an audience through appropriate imagery and language. Positivity is key during these difficult times, but brands cannot seem ignorant or overconfident while facing persistent uncertainty. The crisis has generated innovation and new opportunities for organizations. Sales and marketing leaders must understand how to capitalize on what is new to promote their products/services in a genuine and empathic way.

Opportunities & Threats


Broaden Customer Reach

Growing digital capabilities allows firms to move beyond traditional geographic boundaries to broaden potential customer bases and reach customers anywhere. Robust communication of a value proposition in the virtual marketplace may attract customers from new segments and places.

Seek Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Partnerships with other brands or providers can help accelerate this reach and increase referral opportunities for an organization. Seek partnerships with like-minded organizations to drive increased value for customers and generate new referrals. Additionally, seek ways to partner with and give back to essential organizations and their workers to create meaningful impact and demonstrate commitment to the local community.

Pursue Digital Projects

Automating an organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing tools can provide full visibility into the business development communication cycle and drive the use of this data to create and run more meaningful campaigns. Emphasize efforts to enable digital delivery of products and services to customers. For example, self-service options that allow clients to select, pay and pick-up goods with minimal human contact.


Campaign Impacts

Many marketers plan content well in advance to deliver high impact campaigns. COVID-19 has brought a wave of change to consumer behavior which will impact future design plans and may result in major adjustments to campaign content or even scrapping previous plans. Marketers must be in-tune with daily pandemic updates and pivot swiftly when necessary.

Personal Selling

Organizations have been very successful in leveraging physical locations, in-person consultations and event marketing to deliver goods and services to customers. These channels will be vastly different in the coming months and will require teams to pivot towards educating and interacting with customers at a distance or virtually.

Traditional Media Marketing

Traditional mass media channels such as print advertising, physical mailing and billboard marketing have all been successful ways to reach audiences in the past. Due to less travel and mobility, and increased safety and sanitation measures, these mediums may be less effective in the near term and spending on them should be reviewed.

Additional Resources

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/8/2020