Picture this: You were all set up with a brand new marketing campaign for the second quarter. Chances are, it was perfectly tailored to the idea of summer and all the fun that comes with it. Then March- and COVID-19- happened, and all your “best laid plans” went awry. Many of you can probably relate to this. But how do you react? Coronavirus has shown that it won’t be gone for quite some time; this makes it almost impossible to pick back up where you left off. Businesses have to change their strategies to work in the world we currently live in, not the world we wish we lived in. This is a tall order. To help with your adjustment period, we put together this list of 7 strategies you can use to change your marketing strategy to adapt to this tumultuous year.
Keep expectations realistic
I’m sure that all of our email inboxes have been crowded with countless emails from countless companies letting us know how they’re responding to COVID-19. Sometimes these emails can seem overwhelming, but they are worth looking at closely. This situation has continually changed, and as it has developed, supply chain breaks have become practically inevitable. Many companies have had to totally re-evaluate their business model in order to stay afloat in a shifting market environment.
It’s key that you keep your customers informed about your business. If you know that you will have to deal with delays in shipments or slowdowns in customer service and response times, make sure that you let your customers know. And be sure to use all the avenues of communication available to you; emails are a great standby, but don’t be afraid of using your company site and social media pages. If your customers know what is going on, they will be less likely to be upset.
Increase content creation
Every state is somewhere different in the re-opening process; some states are cautiously opening restaurants and a few other businesses, and some are still totally locked down. One thing is constant though- across the nation, people are spending more time online than ever.
And everyone is online for a different reason; some people are using this time to improve their marketable skills and resume, while others simply want to be entertained. No matter what the reason, the data is clear. In the first part of the year, social media usage increased by 20%, and outgoing traffic from Facebook to other sites as jumped more than 50%
Why not seize the moment? This is the perfect opportunity to provide content for your customers and use your social media pages to promote it. Not only will this increase traffic to your websites and social media pages, it will also improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and your brand’s name recognition. And it will certainly pay off more once the economy stabilizes.
Work on building leads
It can feel a little weird to sell products at a time like this. And that’s fine, but there’s no reason to simply sit on your hands and wait for the situation to stabilize. If you don’t work to increase your client base now, before we get “back to normal,” you will certainly feel the negative effects on your business.
And that return to normal won’t be like flipping a switch; it will be a long period of slowly opening up businesses, lifting travel restrictions, and cautiously walking back all the precautions we took because of the pandemic. And there’s no way to know when this process will start; the threat of a second wave seems to be pushing it back almost indefinitely
That means this is the perfect time to build leads and lay the groundwork for future sales. If you mostly use email newsletters to generate new leads, why not put together a new magnet to help you gather new email addresses? You could even use Facebook to bring in leads to join a mailing list, sign up for a webinar, or preview your products.
Stay active on social media
Since people have been so much more active on social media these past few months, it follows that you should keep your social media presence consistent. Even if you don’t have a physical storefront open right now, this is a great way to increase brand awareness among your followers, as well as keep your pages’ organic interaction consistent over time. Take a look at your pre-COVID posting schedule; at the very least, you should be maintaining this schedule. It might be good to even increase your posting.
If you’re finding it difficult to come up with things to post, don’t be afraid to post look backwards. You could post throwbacks to old product launches or company events. Or, you could look forward, and post about future products that are in the works in order to build buzz for when you are able to come out with new products. No matter what you post, try to maintain a balance of information and entertainment; that is the best way to keep your followers tuned in until we return to some sense of normalcy.
Consider a PPC campaign
Since our current uncertain economy is causing so many companies to scale back their advertising budgets, this could be a great opportunity to run a PPC campaign. After all, there will be much less competition and you will be able to get more bang for your buck.
As of early April, Facebook’s CPM (cost per thousand impressions) has sunk to a record low: $1.95. This is more than 30% lower than the past two years. A pay-per-click campaign that would have cost $0.11 at the top of the year will now cost you just $0.09 as of March.
Launch an online course
This is also a great time to think about putting together an online course, whether it is for professional development or for other skills. Many online learning and professional courses have reported huge jumps in the amount of time people have spent on their courses. For example, LinkedIn learning has tripled the time spent on their courses, and Cornerstone Learning, an employee training service, reported a 75% increase in registrations in the month of March alone. These are not numbers that you should be ignoring.
Think about it- if people are more willing to learn new skills right now, are there skills that you can teach them? You have a number of options if you do decide to host an online learning course. You could use a site like Teachable or Thinkfic to create your own custom course, or you could simply host a course on your company site. No matter which route you choose, offering education can be a great marketing strategy in this rapidly changing market.
Be conscious of your message
While these times are certainly frightening and hectic, that does not mean that you should stop advertising entirely. And customers do not expect you to; a recent survey shows that less than 10% customers think that businesses should cease advertising completely. So while you shouldn’t worry about halting your marketing campaign, you should still be carefully considering the message you put out. After all, we are in the middle of a global crisis, so it is important that you avoid being insensitive or even offensive to the public.
In fact, there are a number of topics that are probably best to avoid altogether. For example, you shouldn’t be using imagery of travel or exploration; people have been on lockdown for several months now, so images like this are fairly tone-deaf. Also be careful to avoid pictures of people touching or gathering in large groups; social distancing has taken a toll on everyone, and are naturally sensitive to that kind of imagery. And as a business, it is crucial that you take these sensitivities into account when crafting your ad campaigns.
When you advertise, make sure that you are working to relate to the public and focusing on ways to help them through this crisis. A little encouragement and support can go a long way, as long as it does not come across as patronizing. Don’t worry about making a sale right now; instead work to connect with potential customers on a deeper level. When we start to return to normal, they will be sure to think of you first when the time comes to make a purchase.
Maintain your pipeline!
When we see the economy begin to destabilize, it can seem smart to cut back entirely on your marketing budget. And while this is certainly tempting, if you carefully invest in your customer base and work to build new leads, you will find that you bounce back much quicker than businesses who who did not. It seems scary now, but now is the time to set the groundwork for what your company will be doing later this year and into the next. So don’t rush to cut your marketing budget! Rather, think about smart, cost effective ways to adjust your marketing strategy to these difficult times.