The Danger of Marketing During a Disaster

I’m alive and well in New York City. Now almost a full week after the storm, displaced from my home for the majority of it, I can report back on what I’ve seen and heard. And the first thing I wanted to discuss is the marketing messaging I’ve seen in the last week.

Granted, many companies did not have time to react to the storm. And many more do not split their email lists by geographic area. But there are dangers in marketing during tragedy and natural disasters. And I saw some of those first hand this week.

Here’s an example of the companies who handled it well.



But others didn’t fare so well. I got an alert about a deadline to publish my website from a company that I was reviewing for the blog. The alert told me that I had 24 hours to publish or my account would be cancelled. Too bad I had no power and no cell service at the time. So I was punished.

I got an email from a company telling me that they had a special offer for New Yorkers affected by the storm. The offer: 10% off all orders placed in the next week. What?

The dangers of marketing during a disaster is that you’re marketing to people who may have been affected, some far worse than others. You are far more likely to make enemies than friends, unless you have something really helpful or endearing to say.

Be safe.