We’re in the middle of uncharted territory: a global pandemic. There’s no doubt that life has changed. Some businesses are being hit hard, while others are actually growing, and still others are existing somewhere in between.
When our lives and our businesses get turned upside down, it is a natural response to go into “hunker down” mode. We worry about our businesses surviving the chaos, and so it’s understandable to want to cut all expenses and brace ourselves for the worst. We shouldn’t feel bad about these very valid (and sometimes practical) reactions.
It’s true – we don’t know what the future holds. There are so many things out of our control at the moment. However, I’d like to offer an argument that marketing and website improvements are not the things that should be suspended right now. In fact, there are many reasons why this is the perfect time for your digital platforms to continue – or even get more resources.
People are spending more time on social media right now
Take a look at this study, which shows a sharp rise in social media usage right now. This makes sense if you think about it: Just about everyone who can is now working from home, and while they work from home they are also following current events on social media, and using social media to reach out to their coworkers and loved ones.
If your brand runs campaigns on social media, now may be a great time to double down your social media marketing efforts. Attention is in high supply and the competition may be pushing pause, giving you a unique opportunity to get noticed.
In particular, the leading platforms like Facebook and Instagram will be incredibly high-value platforms to share your messaging, as people follow breaking stories and argue about politics on Facebook, and share inspiration and life stories on Instagram.
Building a list may be easier than ever right now
Amidst all of this uncertainty, people are looking for solutions and inspiration wherever they can find it. We are collectively looking forward to the day when we can socialize again and see life get back to normal. Now is the ideal time to create content that inspires and helps your audience look forward to days ahead.
Whether you’re in B2B or B2C or both, the classic tenets of inbound marketing have not changed: provide value. Even in the era of social distancing you can provide all kinds of value to your customers and to potential leads. Think of all the people who could get acquainted with your brand while working from home.
Now may be the time to launch that amazing new offer, course, podcast, download, video series, webinar, or pillar page that helps your audience navigate their challenges. What a perfect opportunity to launch content that can build your email list, your social media custom audiences, your podcast subscribers, your video followers, and any channel around which you are building a community.
People in both B2B and B2C industries are looking for hope and guidance right now. You have a unique position here: You can be part of the solution and provide them with the help they are seeking. After we’re past all of this, when everyone is bursting out of this crisis and moving full-steam ahead back into their business, you will have been part of the solution. This gives you the social and business currency to turn that loyalty into revenue.
You’re not just creating and sharing content or building a contact list; you’re building client relationships.
Marketing doesn’t have a pause button; it’s an engine
In times of turbulence, it’s tempting to think of marketing as a switch that can be turned on and off– or a pause button, something we can put on hold, then resume right where we left off when things are more stable. But that’s just not how it works.
Marketing is an engine that starts slowly and then builds momentum as you spin it up (flywheel anyone?). The more you add fuel and the more momentum you gain, the faster and more effective it will be.
But what truly set the big winners apart was their ability to turn initial success into a sustained flywheel, even if they started out behind the pioneers.
The key here is the idea of sustaining your efforts to achieve long-term success.
If you suddenly grind everything to a halt, you have to start over by building momentum from zero. If they haven’t heard from you in a while, you may have to double down on your efforts to re-earn loyalty from your audience. And if your competition continues during these strange times, you may have to re-gain SEO rankings. You’ve lost your footing; all the work you did to solidify your position within your market.
Rather than bring your marketing efforts to a screeching halt, you are likely better off maintaining or even increasing your efforts so you are running strong when the storm passes. Right now, your marketing is the best investment you can make in your brand.
Is your content management system ready?
Something to consider as you increase your social media presence and marketing efforts: Is your content management system (CMS) ready to welcome new clients? This may be the time to consider adding a new landing page, and streamlining your process.
There’s no point in stepping up your marketing efforts if you’re not prepared for an influx of new leads. It’s like pouring too much water into a bathtub– it will surely spill over and make a huge mess.
Are you equipped to market to the new contacts who discover your brand? A CMS program like HubSpot can help you keep track of new visitors and start your next email marketing campaign.
Businesses are reinventing themselves – out of necessity
While some businesses are unfortunately struggling right now, others are taking this time to reinvent themselves. From restaurants to breweries to retail stores, many B2C businesses are pivoting their actions in response to the coronavirus in countless creative ways.
B2B companies are less affected and in some ways, they are thriving (take Zoom for example). Many industries, especially technology, are experiencing unprecedented demand as workers do their best to work remotely, and maintain connection with their teams.
What unique ways can your business serve the community in the current environment– and how can you add value? What can you do to pivot and adapt your message in the age of social distancing and still stay in the forefront of your clients’ minds?
This is the perfect time to go back to your unique value proposition. What can you offer right now that no one else can? This is what made your brand successful before the pandemic. How can you take that unique value and make it safe and accessible during social distancing? What creative ways can you help your customers? (And if you want to take it a step further, how can you share these efforts on social media and draw in even more customers?) When offering a different service, product or new way of doing business you have to be marketing. How else will the consumer know?
Yes, there is some negative news out there– there’s no doubt about it. But there are also some amazing opportunities if you take the time to look.
A recession is the time to increase market share
No one likes saying the word out loud but it’s pretty much accepted that we are going to see a recession during and after this pandemic. We don’t know how long (or short) it will be, but it’s likely.
When this occurs, your competition is probably going to cut back. This is your chance to gain ground. Again, you want to keep that flywheel spinning and keep your momentum going.
Increased spending in marketing and advertising during a recession can pay off. From Forbes:
“…there have been a number of studies going back nearly one century that point out the advantages of maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a weaker economy. Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during the recession and afterwards.”
The article continues:
There are several reasons to advertise during a slowdown.
- The “noise level” in a brand’s product category can drop when competitors cut back on their ad spend. It also allows for advertisers to re-position a brand or introduce a new product.
- Brands can project to consumers the image of corporate stability during challenging times.
- The cost of advertising drops during recessions. The lower rates create a “buyer’s market” for brands. Studies have shown that direct mail advertising, which can provide greater short-term sales growth, increases during a recession.
- When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, with the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” typically leads to an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits.
Many well-known companies like Kellog’s and Amazon became the uncontested leaders in their space by increasing marketing during recessions. And they’re basically unstoppable now.
It’s your decision to make
So what should your brand do during these strange times? That’s something only you can answer. There are many very real considerations to work through including cash flow and financial situations that factor into where you can and can’t spend money.
However, if it’s feasible and realistic to continue your marketing –or even increase it– right now, it could pay off exponentially in the months and years to come.