The COVID-19 Marketing Trap


From face masks to social distancing to national lockdowns, the Coronavirus global pandemic has had serious effects on the world. Just here in South Africa, the rand is at its lowest level in history, the All Share Index lost 36% in a month, and business is largely closed. Not to mention we were also downgraded to junk status by the last of the big ratings agencies.


Employees are not even safe: retrenchments have begun and compulsory leave has been

initiated. Citizens of the country will feel the financial effect of the political decisions that have been taken to protect us and our healthcare system against complete shutdown, if they haven't already.


We are all in need of support and already, within the last two weeks, I have seen some incredible acts of kindness. Just in the coaching space, one of the biggest international online conferences, which costs a fair chunk of dollar-money, has opened its digital doors for free. CEOs, leaders, mentors and influencers are giving up their time and offering many of their services at no cost so that everyone can learn and grow - and remain sane - while they stay at home. Some of them are doing it with love, but others are doing it for capital gain.


"Join us for a FREE webinar where we will show you exactly how to survive AND thrive during the Coronavirus pandemic."

"We have rounded up some of the most successful and influential business gurus in the world to deliver to you a FREE weekend-long virtual conference in which we will provide you with everything you could ever want to know about getting through a crisis."


I was on one of these this morning and it didn't take long for the first sell to make its appearance. The teaser-content was followed by a massively discounted programme (they dropped a zero), and then onto the next presentation. The format is typical: invite impressive people, have them present something enticing but not give anything away, conclude with a limited time offer.


Our control and influence over people, things and the environment is limited and we need to accept that our only strategies are to take care of ourselves first, and then others. If you're an essential service continuing with your ordinary business in the usual manner, well done. If you have created a need that will serve humanity during this time and it is well priced, well done. But if you are louring people into your usual offering by pretending to support them during Coronavirus, shame on you.


Digital marketing strategies normally include funnels that carry a sense of urgency. The further into the funnel you go, the more appealing the offering, and then when you finally pick up the free gift or attend the free event, you are presented with the real offer... a big ticket item that is massively discounted because you hung around for so long. But this is it; this is the product! Well done, you have finally arrived. You just had to go on a certain journey that cleverly appealed to both your greed and your fear to finally receive what was on offer in the first place.


Maybe that's marketing, but when the words Coronavirus and COVID-19 are used to sell ordinary products and programmes, that's just not right. And then there's 'conference risk' - a phenomenon that keeps the self-help product sellers selling. Their greatest market is those that want more. They read all the books and attend every possible conference and event that they can, but nothing ever changes. Why? Because they haven't built the capacity to follow their learnings through and implement them into their lives and the world, so they just keep learning... a life long study of self.


Current circumstances, aka the global pandemic, will have an effect on you. We're only into the second week of lockdown; the adjustment phase is complete and now you'll really start to feel the impact. If you're looking for support, look in the right places. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If those offering support are overly excited, it's because they gain is not equitable. If those people and businesses you know and respect are approaching you with open hands and an open heart, those are the ones you want to respond to.


My biggest coaching mentor who charges $100,000 a year to work with has invited me to 4 weeks of online group coaching sessions for free, just because I attended his intensive in London. He is truly serving his community and it's that kind of care and kindness that we should be giving and receiving.




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