What next for marketing in the COVID-19 crisis?
June 10th was the deadline for decisions on furloughing employees.
So if you furloughed any of your marketing staff before then, you might soon be doing some soul searching about when to bring them back. According to a Marketing Week survey back in April, over half (52%) of marketers working in smaller organisations said they’d seen either ‘very significant’ or ‘significant’ furloughing or staff reductions in the marketing team since the coronavirus outbreak.
Marketing budgets have also come under the spotlight and belts have been tightened.
Even as some UK business sectors start to open up, many businesses will still prefer to conserve marketing budget rather than targeting customers who may not be in the mood to buy.
Before I go further, if you have been impacted, or your business has been forced to close by this crisis, it must be an awful time. Our hearts go out to you.
Who are we to offer marketing advice?
Warren Buffet said “Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.”
So we’re not telling you that you need to get back to marketing. Not at all. You must do what’s right for your business. And if that includes remaining in business, continuing to sell products and services to new customers, and keep your brand out there, you might want to think about marketing.
Now that said, we’ve never seen anything like this COVID-19 crisis before.
But we have seen downturns before. Our marketing experiences through previous downturns and recessions has taught us to:
- Understand why customers will buy from us
- Adapt our game plan
- Change our previous assumptions
- Be ruthless in prioritising
- Keep pushing.
Of course, some factors are beyond our control. But we can’t give up.
During the 2000-2001 dotcom bubble and the 2009-11 credit crunch/financial crisis, business was tough and marketing was a soft target for cost cutting.
But we, business, and the economy, got through it. We’ll get through this crisis. And so will you. Focus on this as you adapt and plan your marketing for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Here are our tips for marketing during the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
Look to the far horizon
We’re starting to see references to “marketing for the upturn” and “getting ready for the bounce back”.
Problem is, nobody knows when that will be, and the economy is likely to take a nosedive. Remember though: it will get better; people will still buy things; we’ll still go about our lives; business will still be done.
But it may be different.
Looking to the ‘far horizon’ means – as well as focusing on the here and now – planning to ‘be there’ for when the economy starts to pick up again. When it happens, it may be slow at first, and then there will be a general scramble to be seen, heard and found in a scrum of competition for buyers.
Our advice: keep your marketing ticking along so your brand doesn’t disappear. It will be much harder to re-ignite engagement later if you go dark and invisible now.
Understand the new customer journey
We’ve written before about the importance of understanding your customer journey.
Those journeys are still happening, but your target customers may be taking different routes instead of the familar ones, and they may be taking longer to arrive. You need to map those new customer journeys, understand what they are and ensure your brand can be seen along the way.
Our advice: take another look at where (web, social, content, email, ads) your target customers are active and put your time and effort into engaging with them in these channels.
Capitalise on increased social media engagement
On that note, according to Forbes, social media engagement during the COVID-19 crisis has surged by over 60%.
Of course, it’s no longer panic-buying of flour, toilet rolls and hand sanitiser. But B2B buyers and consumers are active, and they are thinking ahead to what’s going to happen next.
Our advice: create some high quality, revelant content. Post it on your social channels to raise your brand visibility and engage with potential target buyers and influencers.
Take advantage of reduced cost advertising opportunities
Neil Patel pointed out on his blog that “paid ads are really, really cheap” right now. Go and check it out.
The reason for this is that many companies that would normally be advertising have cut back on paid ads, which means that bidding competition isn’t quite so fierce.
Our advice: there are deals to be had with paid media, particularly on Google Ads and on social media. Now could be the time to advertise if you haven’t done so before.
Keep your SEO active
Shortly after the start of the crisis, clients were asking us whether they should continue with SEO. We asked “Do you still want visitors to come to your website?”
As with everything, your own business decision on this depends on your circumstances. But search behaviour dictates that if your target customers want to buy, they are searching online.
Our advice: if you still want new customers to find your website, it still needs to be ranking high on Google and Bing, and you need SEO. Read our SEO blog for more info.
Attracting business now and getting through the downturn, whilst also focusing being here for the longer term can be a tricky balance. Marketing can help with this, if done appropriately. In summary:
1. Focus on the long game
It may be hard, but if you plan to be in business for the long term, don’t give up. Focus and prioritise. Right now, be understanding. Your customers, employees, colleagues and suppliers will all appreciate it.
2. Adapt your marketing rather than shutting it down
Avoid the temptation to slash your marketing or, worse, stop it altogether. It is not going to help your business, especially in the long term. Far better to adapt and evolve your marketing even if it means learning new skills or adopting new strategies. Look for opportunities such as lower ad prices, greater social media engagement. Attract customers using these means.
3. Consider the outsourcing option
If your marketing team has been furloughed or you need certain additional skills such as content, web design or social media management, then outsourcing some or all of your marketing requirements could be the way to go. It’s a flexible, cost-effective way of getting access to marketing skills and expertise.
About C4B Media
At C4B Media we are ideally set up to deliver outsourced marketing services. Our team are skilled digital, design and communications specialists or marketing managers who have worked in real business marketing teams.
That means we have everything you need for you to outsource your marketing.
Alternatively, we can give you an extra helping hand to deliver specific marketing campaigns, content, SEO or social media to help you achieve your business objectives.
Discover how others are using our Outsourced Marketing Services HERE.
Give us a call on 01763 877110 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help with any aspect of marketing. Or ask us any question about marketing during the Coronavirus pandemic.