Here is a short, no frills guide to what we believe is a good marketing strategy to maintain during this time of uncertainty.
While some businesses who cater for essential needs have seen massive increases in sales, especially since the government-imposed closures, most other businesses are seeing aggressive drops. This is a very normal trend all over the world. Most businesses will experience a sudden loss in revenue and will be forced to start having thoughts and discussions about how to deal with this and how to reduce budgets.
Marketing Budget Cuts
Marketing is usually one of the first areas in businesses that experiences budget cuts in a time of crisis. In all honesty, I can never understand this thinking and in many ways, this could have a disastrous effect on your business. Marketing is the vehicle that puts your business in front of your prospective clients. So if you stop that vehicle, your customers will no longer be exposed to what you sell.
As your key strategy, a business should retain (or even grow if possible) their marketing spend. Companies that keep advertising during the tough times, are more likely to remain in the customer’s mind. And this was proven over and over again.
According to a study of the 1974-1975 recession from American Business Press and Meldrum and Fewsmith, “[c]ompanies which did not cut marketing expenditures experienced higher sales and net income during those two years and the two years following than those companies which cut in either or both recession years.”
According to McGraw-Hill Research’s look at the 1985 recession, companies that either maintained or increased their ad budgets during that time experienced a 256 percent increase in sales versus companies that cut their ad budgets.
And according to a 1990 study from the WPP Group’s Center for Research and Development, companies that increased their ad spending by 20 to 100 percent saw an average gain of 0.9 percent of the market share, while those that cut spending only gained 0.2 percent of the market share.
Key take away
Reducing the marketing budget, is BAD. Instead, use your marketing budgets more efficiently. Instead of spending thousands on one expensive TV campaign, try switching to a YouTube ad campaign where you may get possibly far greater exposure at half of the cost. Online marketing tends to be cheaper than everywhere else and is far more trackable with clear performance indicators. But don’t just jump into it blindly, seek expert advice and KNOW where your customers are. Thank also of your main marketing ‘call to action’. Direct them to your shop is not a good call to action. Directing them to call to order, or to buy from the website is the only call to action usable right now.[/vc_message][vc_column_text]
Your Website Analytics Information May Not Be Accurate
During our weekly reporting projects for some of our clients, we have noticed that some data was not making sense. Whilst most websites were experiencing traffic drops, we have noticed some odd cases where some sites increased in traffic, time on site went up through the roof, but no sales were being registered.
The cause here was a simple one, but it took us a while to figure out. What happened was that some businesses that have employees working from home, were accessing the main company website more frequently, and since their home IP’s were not excluded from analytics, this resulted in an increase in those stats.
Key take away
This is not really solvable, unless you ask your employees for their home IP addresses, which will change from time to time. We recommend making a note of this period where your employees are working from home and keep that in mind when you are doing your reporting.
Maximise ‘FREE’ marketing
Social media and email marketing provide opportunities where you can market your products and services for free. Social media is the easiest one of most companies, as most have been doing it already. Take this time to really boost up your social media presence. If Facebook is your main social media vehicle, you can try several innovative ways of how to keep spreading your reach without spending any budgets. You can also use this time to do some more competitor research or even get into some research to see if there are new social networks that you may want to start getting into.
Email marketing, provided that you had prepared for this ahead, is one of the cheapest and effective marketing mediums. If you have managed in the past to build a healthy customer database (ensuring it’s GDPR compliant) you now have an engaged audience that is most likely spending more time at home and is possibly more engaged. You can use your email database to deliver some high quality, valuable or interesting content that your users can engage with.
Be mindful about the timing of your messages and take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously. This is not the time to hard-sell some sort of Covid-19 offer.
Key take aways
Use the below to get inspired in relation to your business – use these ideas in an email marketing campaign or social media posts could include:
- If you sell daily needs and also offer delivery services, promote this message so that your customers can make use of your services.
- If you offer a service that can be used during this time – promote it along side the steps you are using to ensure customer and employee safety
- If your business sells fishing supplies (hobbyist or professional) – you can forward tips, tricks and other informative content.
- If you sell interior design services – post before and after photos to highlight your skills. Post simple home renovation tips that clients can use for free
- Photographers – can make a short video with some tips and tricks on how to take better photos in various situations.
- Restaurants – can share some simple meal ideas, or even video recipes of how clients can create a fine dining experience at home.
- Electronics and home goods – promote any delivery services offered, whilst also promoting the latest products being released and tips and tricks on how to service and maintain safely some home appliances.
- IT software/hardware – a much harder sell, but this may be the time to appeal to business owners where especially their employees may be working at home. Introducing new applications in a business or upgrading hardware is always a challenge but doing this while most employees are not completely depending on internal systems may be the right time to do with minimal interruption. Ensure that if new tools for employees are being added, that adequate training is being provided to avoid disruptions in service.
Other important tips
- Don’t spam – big no no.
- Ensure you have explicit OPT IN (permission to use client’s email for marketing)
- Make sure you are using a professional email marketing platform to send your emails – don’t just CC or BCC your database.
- Don’t email too frequently.
- Make sure the emails are of value. Real value, not just what you think is valuable.
SEO and Content Marketing
As like the performance drops in search engine advertising, organic search has also experienced some reductions. However, this is truly the perfect time to engage in a proper content marketing exercise and boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is the time when search engines may start seeing drops in effort on your competitor’s websites (therefore potential drops in their organic rankings), but see that your efforts have been maintained, your users still in some form or other still engaged, still receiving traffic – basically, still alive. This will boost your rankings and contribute towards a faster recovery of your business once this pandemic is over.
Key take away
Losing organic search rankings right now, could wreak havoc in your plans to recover your business once this pandemic is over. Righat now, it is vital to maintain all SEO and content marketing efforts (or even increase).
Paid Search (Google Ads) What to do?
Many companies, understandably so, have reduced their Search engine advertising budgets. This is especially the case with non-essential services. It is a viable strategy. Proceed with caution. And only reduce your budgets if you know for a fact that the product or service you sell is not a customer priority right now.
On the other hand, since many companies are reducing their Search engine budget spends, this also means that there is far less competition. If you know how search engine marketing works, you will know that if there are less competitors, you are most likely going to get a better (ie, cheaper) cost per click. Therefore, this could be the time where you can actually get more demand for less budget.
Don’t think about only the short term. Think long term. Besides your marketing efforts, you have to also think long term and ensure that your business is prepared for the future. This is not the first time something like this has happened, in 2003 we had to deal with SARS, in 2009 H1N1 came along, and in 2014/15 Ebola killed over 11,000 people. What will you do to ensure that your business can withstand these outbreaks? We have compiled another article last week, highlighting What can businesses learn from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic?. Have a read and see what you can implement in your business to ensure that your business can operate as ‘close to normal’ as possible.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
A personal note from us.
In this time of uncertainty, all businesses have to put their top priority on their customers and employees’ safety. We all need to be kind and considerate and aware of all that is happening in this situation. Businesses that do this well, are the ones that will recover the quickest once this whole ordeal is over. Until then, keep a watchful eye on your efforts and take a lean and effective approach to make the most of what is available to you.
We are available for our customers and readers of this post, for a free Skype consultation to address any concerns or require further information. Kindly get in touch with us now to schedule a meeting time.