Hi, friend. Elbow-bumps and air high-fives to you.

You're used to Marketing know-how and strategy here. So the tone and format of this article/letter probably feels a little different to you today.

That's because these are unprecedented times. This is not business as usual.

I'm supposed to be on a plane flying back from Chile right now. You probably aren't doing what you expected to be doing this week, either.

Things have changed rapidly, haven't they?

* * *

Two weeks ago I was at an event in San Diego with 4,000 others. Handshakes. Hugs. Socializing was not distant. Now—literally days later—I'm freaked out when the pizza guy tries to hand me back my change.

It's hard to know what to do. We have a vague stress about everything and nothing as we sit at home in our athleisurewear.

* * *

In San Diego, I delivered a mainstage talk: Slow Down to Speed Up (#SDSU).

My belief (and the focus of the book I've been working on, one beloved sentence at a time!) is that in marketing, in business, in life there are key moments when we need to slow down now to speed up later on. To...

  • Build momentum for what truly matters long-term.
  • Focus our efforts.
  • Interrupt the grind of the gears.
  • Challenge ourselves to act in the best interests of the next 10 years, not the next 10 months or 10 days or 10 minutes.

The goal is to build a more solid foundation, a more sustainable and sane momentum.

Long-term thinking is hand sanitizer to Bad Marketing: It kills it on contact.

* * *

Even a week ago, it wasn't clear that COVID-19 was going to force a slower pace on us all; it still seemed like a choice.

Yet, now, the NBA is closed. So is Europe. Tom Hanks is quarantined in Australia. Wheel of Fortune is filming without a live studio audience. Many of our friends have had clients or customers pause or pull their contracts. And maybe this week you are working from the dining room table.

Just yesterday, #SDSU was a strategy to adopt. Now, it's what we have to do to survive if we are to thrive post-virus.

So what are our #SDSU moments during this time? Here are some places to start:

  • Do less and obsess. My friend and marketer Mark Schaefer writes that his plan is to write his best book ever (and paint more watercolor paintings). (He's an amazing artist.) He'll do things that will help him catapult his business (and feed his soul more deeply) in the long term. He'll do less speaking, less teaching; but he'll obsess over his writing and projects at home.

  • Deepen existing relationships. Do the slow work of building one subscriber at a time, on your own platform. A regular newsletter like this one would be my suggestion—because the key is to build on a platform YOU own. (Not Facebook. Not LinkedIn. Not Instagram.) Show up consistently, warts and all. ("Authentic" is a fancy way of saying "imperfect.")

    And let's check in more regularly with each other, more than we usually might; I've been doing this with friends on text and Instagram (my social platform of choice).

    "Community" isn't something you look to monetize; it's how to live your life.

  • Seize the opportunity to get ahead of the chaos that today defines many marketing roles. How can you tee yourself and your department up right now, so that when things calm down you're more on top of your game than ever before?

  • Seize the opportunity to bolster your own industry. If your particular industry is struggling with the implications of Covid-19 more acutely than most, can you help your company to coalesce around a way to offer support and resources? Is there an opportunity for you to create some long-term goodwill in service to your community?

    Related: Marketer Scott Monty is curating a list of corporate goodwill efforts during the Covid-19 outbreak.

  • Do that thing you never have time to do. Take that class on SEO. Dive into how Voice is changing marketing. Learn how to write more effectively. Find the thing that will feed you, your career, your company, your life.

    Related: MarketingProfs has lots of free education and training programs on demand. Here's a good one on demand gen. I also highly recommend this class on SEO for B2B marketing from Andy Crestodina.

Now is your time to lead: Lead your career. Lead your department. Lead your company.

Not by hoarding hand-sanitizer and toilet paper like everyone else is doing. But by seizing the slow moments to speed up—to the thing that now that will set you up for success later on.

* * *

Listen, I get that these are uncertain times. And uncertainty can feel scary and out of control, which is why so many of us are hitting Target and clearing the shelves.

But we've got this. We'll get through it together.

We'll all have to slow down for a bit. But let's use the time well, OK?

Share your slow moment, on social, by using the hashtag #SDSU and @-ing me: @marketingprofs. I'd love to hear what you're thinking.

Stay healthy. Be smart.

Your friend,


(Editor's note: A version of this article appeared Sunday in Ann Handley's personal newsletter.)

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What Marketers Can Do Right Now in the Age of Coronavirus: A Letter From Ann Handley

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image of Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who recently published Everybody Writes 2. She speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.