If you’re anything like most other humans in the world right now, you’ve probably been affected financially by the COVID-19 crisis.
As we see in every slowdown, a large percentage of people have drastically reduced or even stopped buying many products and services. (Well, maybe except for alcohol and cannabis.)
This has hurt most businesses, and as a result, marketing expenditures have been cut, which has hurt the marketing industry.
Nearly all of the marketers I know, from giant agencies all the way down to independent freelancers, are feeling the pain.
So in this article, I’m going to outline three components to marketing in a downturn.
1. Develop & Follow a Plan
It can be tempting to start throwing ideas at the wall in hopes that something sticks, but now is the absolute worst time to be wasting time, energy, and resources.
Instead, invest an afternoon carefully deciding exactly what you want to accomplish, and then devise a plan to do exactly that. Don’t put anything into other areas.
The first step – figuring out what you want to accomplish – is the most important because it will determine what tactics are necessary to accomplish your goal.
For example, acquiring new agency clients for a done-for-you service will require a very different approach than selling a course or consulting services. So plan with the end in mind.
Once you’ve determined your goal, figure out exactly what you need to do to get there.
If you want to land new clients, then you need to demonstrate that you’re capable of delivering the results prospective clients need, figure out how to reach them, and then engage them in some way.
This might mean creating some case studies and then leveraging paid ads on Facebook and direct outreach through LinkedIn to get in front of the right people.
Engagement to close the sale would likely be a combination of comments, direct messages, and phone or video calls.
It’s important to remember – what you try probably isn’t going to work at first, so you’ll have to keep adjusting your tactics, but remain focused on your goals.
This is where most people go wrong by changing their goals when things don’t work out the first time.
Here are a few articles I wrote that you may find useful in planning:
- Five Strategies to Become a Link Building Rock Star
- Dominate Your Niche: 7 Killer Keyword Research Strategies
- How to Mine Competitor Websites for Untapped Keyword Opportunities
2. Invest Where Competitors Pull Out
Right now, traffic online is higher than it’s ever been, and ad costs are lower than we’ve seen in a long time.
Despite these facts, most businesses have reduced or even eliminated their marketing, creating a massive opportunity for serious marketers, because it has reduced the cost to advertise.
It’s a simple equation – demand is down, so the price is down.
It won’t last forever, though, so you need to capitalize on this opportunity by investing in advertising.
I want to point out an important detail here – just because you advertise, it doesn’t mean you’re going to start raking in new business overnight. In fact, that’s probably not going to happen.
The more likely outcome is that your increased advertising increases your brand awareness, which leads to customers reaching out to you, instead of one of your competitors, once things start moving again.
And along the way, this will give you a cost-effective way to quickly build a larger audience that you can get engaged with your brand and continue to market to in the future.
It doesn’t just have to be paid ads – it can be SEO, organic social, email…pretty much any marketing tactic.
Ideally, you want to invest specifically in channels where your competitors have pulled out because this approach is the most likely to have the best ROI thanks to the reduced cost and increased exposure.
But if you can afford to invest in other channels, it’s wise to leverage them as well.
Here are a few articles I wrote that you may find useful in increasing your marketing without spending a ton of money:
- How to Earn Links by Doing Something Truly Newsworthy
- 3 Steps to Leverage LinkedIn for Link Building
- Anatomy of a Webpage: How to Maximize SEO Impact
3. Focus on Building a Brand
It’s tempting to focus on generating more sales, and that’s definitely something worth pursuing, but it should not be your primary focus right now.
Right now, you should be focused on building your brand.
This is a perfect opportunity to create compelling content that demonstrates your competence and leads to trust.
The key here is to leverage this content to enable you to continue marketing to your audience well into the future with social media, remarketing/retargeting, and email.
This way, you don’t have to hope and pray that they convert the first time they see your content –because, in all reality, they probably won’t.
But if you build an email list and an audience on social media, the first time they see your content is exactly that – just the first of many interactions they’ll have with your brand.
Here’s the thing about building a brand that most people either don’t know or ignore…
In order to give some people (the right people) a reason to be passionate about your brand, you will also give other people (the wrong people) a reason to be disinterested in, or even hate your brand.
And that’s OK.
You want to attract your ideal customers and repel to people who aren’t a good fit.
I know it can be tempting, especially right now, to try to close everyone, but the reality is that the wrong customers will actually cause you to lose money because they become a time suck.
When you align with the right customers, you can produce better results for them and actually enjoy the working relationship.
Here are a few articles I wrote that you may find useful in building your brand:
- 7 Ways to Improve Your Brand Perception with Reputation Management
- 3 Steps to Conjure Content That Performs in Search & Social
- 3 Valuable PR Lessons You Can Learn From the Nike Controversy
You Can Survive, and Even Thrive, Through These Times
If you’re willing to pivot your business to adapt to the lockdown (or any other slowdown) and put in the work that others aren’t, you will likely survive, and possibly even thrive when others are struggling.
I encourage you to connect with others, expand your network, and continue to check out the awesome content here on Search Engine Journal.
Between the staff and other writers, there’s a ton of useful content being published that will give you endless ideas to improve your business.
We’ll all get through this together!
- 12 Ways to Adapt Your Marketing in Times of Forced Isolation
- Crisis Marketing Made Simple
- Winter Is Coming: SEO During Economic Downturns
Featured Image: Modified by author, April 2020