In one single instant, sudden changes can rock marketing plans, strategy, and the way we relate to our customers. Certainly, this is what has happened during COVID-19, wildfires, and whatever else was thrown our way. The pandemic has taught us to see our marketing plan from an entirely new angle. The lessons learned are universal and can help your company make a similar pivot, regardless of the disaster.Be Patient. Wait to See What Happens.Eliasson Marketing had many of the same experiences as other businesses across the U.S. this spring, we needed to adjust quickly so that everyone could focus on adapting to a new work environment and ensuring our clients were being cared for. We were one of the fortunate ones deemed \u201cessential\u201d due to our work in advertising and marketing, but the entire country was moving to shutdown mode, which meant that consumer spending might implode along with it.Like many, we took a cautious approach at first. We held off on new initiatives and chose to pause for a short time to wait and see what was next. This bought us some time to reorganize budgets, brainstorm new ideas, and rethink our approach to marketing and product positioning.We took time to think, and that\u2019s the first lesson to take away from the experience: When disaster strikes, do not panic. Starting a new endeavor while a crisis is emerging risks going in a direction that is misguided, crass, tone-deaf \u2014 or all three. “Read the room” or get an idea of the environment before embarking on a new initiative, especially if you\u2019re testing something new with a reallocated budget.Same Goal. Different Approach.In late spring 2020, remote work became the new norm. All of the sudden, millions of Americans found themselves dispersed and attempting to do their jobs using new technology from home. As the economy and traditional ways of working were upended, there was an opportunity to act quickly and adjust to meet the market\u2019s needs. There was an immediate focus on virtual services, contact-free pickup for food, online winery experiences, and shifting business offerings. Other companies recognized a similar opportunity and reacted quickly to market their products in new ways, as well.Find a fresh approach to stay relevant and keep selling to your market. When your primary work is completely disrupted, redefine your main audience. It would have been a waste of time, money, and effort for Eliasson Marketing to market the way we did before the pandemic. Instead, we zeroed in on a new audience and tweaked our message to appeal to that audience and its needs. Not only did this work for us, but it also helped our clients succeed, as well.Stand Out. Be Heard.When Covid-19 hit, companies all seemed to want to say something. Consumers quickly became overwhelmed with emails, social posts, and tv ads of companies acknowledging the severity of the situation and letting them know their brand were there for them. Does “in these challenging times…” sound familiar?It seemed that everyone was saying the same thing. A video on YouTube shows a compilation of television commercials from dozens of companies using the same sounding music, verbiage, and imagery to share their empathy. This is not to say these efforts are not valuable, but when everyone starts to look and sound the same, your message gets lost in the clutter.While we take the pandemic seriously, we did not want to pander to emotional uncertainty. We sought a different approach. We were all worried about plummeting into a terrible recession, so we wanted to be loud and clear that our marketing services could enable business productivity and help small businesses be there for their customers in positive ways. We did what we could to keep people working when everything else seemed to be falling apart. In a way, that is the power of focused marketing.When in doubt, sound different but stay authentic. When businesses and culture see a shift, there is an overwhelming urge to say something to remain relevant and let your customers know you’re still there. If, however, your company is compelled to act, say something that is actionable, relevant, and different from everyone else. Also, make sure it\u2019s real; customers can see right through a facade that is off-brand or disingenuous. Final ThoughtsThe majority of 2020 has shaken up marketing and forced us to develop a plan; execute; evaluate; pivot. Rinse and repeat. Over and over again.Through all of this, we learned three lessons:Be Patient and Don’t ReactKeep the Same Goal but Adjust Your ApproachStand Out but Stay AuthenticThis experience applies to anyone in any industry, regardless of the calamity.