How do marketers avoid common traps during times of crisis?

June 30, 2020 | By Raja Rajamannar

The Topline

We’re moving deeper into uncharted territory every day. As we continued to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, outrage over systematic bigotry reached a breaking point in the United States.

As our society navigates these crises, people demand ever-greater leadership from the businesses they support. It’s imperative that marketers get it right — but it's so easy to get it wrong.

The Tidbit

To offer a reassuring voice and a path forward in dark times, brands must connect with consumers on a human level and take meaningful actions and fulfill their promises.

The Considerations

Every crisis we weather presents an opportunity for connection and healing. Brand leaders that show they care deeply can reinforce trust, build loyalty and win over new customers. On the other hand, businesses that fumble or mishandle delicate messaging will suffer in the marketplace.

My Take

There are common risks for marketers during a crisis. They are all easily avoidable. 

  • Think twice about cutting your marketing talent. Authentic messaging is critical in tough times. You need a team that knows your voice to a T.
  • Don’t drift the sea of sameness. A brand without a voice parrots others, which comes off as weak, generic and ultimately apathetic.
  • Maintain your voice. The market is a stage, and a crisis shines a spotlight. Do not get blinded and miss your cue — silence does damage.
  • Keep customers a priority. The knee-jerk reaction to adversity is often self-protection. Acknowledge your position of power, and give consumers, partners and employees the respect they deserve.

Long Story Short

Humanity and leadership in a crisis separate brands that thrive from those that fall.


Marketing Sense is a blog series from Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer. Every month, Marketing Sense will bring you unique, original, relevant content to equip you with the knowledge that will keep you ahead of a rapidly changing industry. We’ll filter out the noise to focus on key marketing trends backed by new findings and support from thought leaders from across the trade.

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Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer