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The 80/20 Formula for Ethical Coronavirus Marketing

By John Vishnesky

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

As I sit down at my desk to write this, it’s the second day of May in 2020.

That means that if you’re in the US like me that you’ve been in lockdown for close to two months now.

Even longer if you’re in other parts of the world…

This thing has been a wild ride so far and it’s unlike anything I ever imagined I’d witness in my lifetime.

One of the most interesting things is seeing how much of a sea change it’s brought to the marketing world.

Those without a digital footprint in their businesses are having a pretty hard go at things and many are scrambling to build one.

The ones that already have their digital ducks in a row are THRIVING right now.

Many of my clients have had some of their best months ever over the previous months…

And I want to show you the 80/20 formula for why that is and how you can do it inside your business, too.

I’ll get back to that in a second, though.

If you’ve never heard of the 80/20 principle, here’s what it’s all about:

In 1906, an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto noticed that every year, 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced approximately 80% of the peas.

It wasn’t just his peas that were following this breakdown, though…

He also realized that 80% of the wealth in England was held by 20% of the


This breakdown happens in just about every aspect of life, too.

  • 20% of freeways get 80% of the traffic.
  • 20% of runners win 80% of the races…
  • 20% of the emails your business sends lead to 80% of the sales you get

You get the point.

That last one should jump out at you a bit. Especially if your business isn’t using email marketing right now.

So let me repeat that.

For businesses that incorporate email into their marketing plan, 20% of the emails they send are leading to 80% of their sales.

This is an eye-opening statistic that brings me right back to what my clients have been doing over the last couple of months that’s led to the large (and ethical) paydays they’ve been having…

So today, I want to show you the 80/20 of Covid-19 email marketing you can use to ethically increase revenue during a pandemic (or any other time for that matter).

Step 1. If you aren’t using email in your marketing efforts… start now.

When my clients ask me how much they should be emailing their list, I tell them, “as much as you can.”

Generally, the more you email, the more you make. This isn’t an excuse to spam them with crappy offers or boring writing, though.

You want to think of your emails as bite sized little chunks of entertainment that build trust, authority, and an interest in purchasing what you’re offering.

Email marketing makes up 80% of the sales for the majority of my clients.

Step 2. Don’t just sell. Provide value and offer your audience something awesome for free.

Marketing during a pandemic is tricky.

One of the things my clients and I have thought long and hard about is how to provide boatloads of valuable free content while still helping their businesses flourish.

The last thing that you want to do is take advantage of the state that your audience is in and try to guilt them into buying from you.

What we’ve found works the best is to offer some sort of free guide that meets them where they are right now.

For example, I work with clients in the fitness space.

Right now home workouts are HUGE.

So we decided to give away free 1 week home workout guides to their audience. This does a few really great things:

  1. It’s a way to give those that don’t have the means to purchase a full workout program right now a way to workout during quarantine.
  2. Giving this out to your audience builds a feeling of reciprocity in them. They just received something amazing from you. If they can afford to, they’ll most likely buy from you since they will want to give back.
  3. If you want to grow your email list right now, you can use this as your lead magnet (something to give away in exchange for an email) in your ads and in your social media posts and it will be super-effective

This free guide doesn’t have to be anything too crazy. You can put together a PDF and hire someone from to make it pretty for only $5.

Also, if you’d rather just make a video resource, you could always just make a private youtube video and send them the link in an email when they sign up.

Step 3. Make your next launch a big promotion with a start and end date and build scarcity.

Scarcity is one of the biggest motivating forces in marketing.

Having a hard stop on when people can get access to your promotion will get them to take action. If you give them the chance to just purchase it on their own terms, many will forget and probably never buy.

This doesn’t mean that you need to take away your entire product completely (you can, though).

You can add in some awesome bonuses or take a percentage off the price if they purchase within the allotted time and still have a great offer your audience will love.

Focusing on the 20% that really moves the needle can help you flourish during a black swan event like this pandemic and help you stay lean and mean with your marketing.

If you’re having a bad go at things right now, just know that this too shall pass.

This is only temporary.

So, if you haven’t sent an email to your customers or audience in a while. This is a good time.

Reach out and find out how you can help them and then follow along with the 3 things I mentioned above and you’ll be on the right track.

Now go wash your hands and send an email.