Small Business Marketing During Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Should You Continue Marketing During Coronovirus?
Local marketing is the driving force for our local businesses, but the question comes up now, is it cost-effective to continue marketing during coronavirus?
Businesses operating in local communities are the foundation of the American economy at large. The magnitude of the impact of roughly 30.2 million small businesses operating nationwide cannot be ignored.
While we are all taking precautions for the safety and health of our community members during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s also important to take precautions for the safety and health of our businesses – both internally and externally. Businesses not only provide valuable products or services, they also fuel our local economy with tax dollars, employment, and community development and pride.
Proactive vs. Reactive
The foreseeable future is unknown, but it’s vital to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Don’t wait for it to be too late, have a contingency plan in place. Many businesses are starting to take the knee-jerk reaction of halting marketing, but is that really what’s best for your company, and our economy?
Where To Begin
COVID-19 has had many direct and indirect effects already. As the government is encouraging people to stay at home and wash their hands, we see a massive shortage of home and cleaning supplies. While work cultures are changing, work environments move from offices to homes. Local restaurants are no longer allowed to seat people in areas, and travel and tourism will be affected as our government temporarily bans travel to certain places where cases of the virus are high.
Changes can be stressful, but the best thing that we can do as marketers is to look forward and have clear, concise, and accurate messaging.
Create A New Digital Marketing Plan
It’s always important to have a marketing plan and budget in place, now is no different, but your budget and objectives are likely to be very different though. Take a look at our marketing budget and plan blog post from last month to help determine your new budget and your new objectives.
Adjust Your Strategy
Once you have re-evaluated your budget and objectives, it’s time to adjust your strategy.
For brick-and-mortar businesses, adjusting your strategy might mean limited budgets or pausing certain campaigns. If you’re worried about the decline in leads or foot traffic my recommendation is to lower budgets for non-essential campaigns at the moment for certain industries. We can then focus that ad spend on branded terms due to the higher quality traffic they naturally receive over the long-term.
For those small businesses that have tight annual budgets, the reallocation of ad spend toward more effective marketing periods could be essential to their success. For them, search engine optimization is a great focus point during this period, building up online marketing tactics that will grow organically.
Listen To The Experts
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. It’s an uncertain time, and we don’t have all the answers. We can share what we do know and offer some guidance for our customers and other small businesses that may be experiencing shifts in their business.
At Doggett, we have been watching the news closely, and we’ve responded by taking the action to make remote work the default for all Doggett employees. However, we’ve taken all steps to ensure minimal disruption to our operations and our customers. As brand strategists, digital and social media marketers, we’ll leave the medical advice to medical and public health experts—and would urge you to do the same. We can however provide more information about what actions you can take in your online advertising initiatives now.
The Importance of Content Marketing
Content marketing can become an effective way for you to remain in touch with your customers and increase pipeline generation during the coronavirus pandemic. While buying may decrease, digital activity from your customers and clients is likely to increase. Great content on places like google searches, social media, and websites where digital media can be viewed is valuable.
With the ever-changing digital landscape, communicating and engaging with your audience can remain uninterrupted, no matter what the situation is – as long as you have the proper content marketing strategies in place:
- Use this time to increase brand awareness
- Cut down on CTA’s
- Highlight your brand, your compassion, and your personality
- Write blogs, build authority on the areas of your business
- Send emails. Email marketing allows you to connect personally with your customers and clients, keep them in the loop.
- Audit your ads: make sure they aren’t tone deaf.
- Shift your messaging from short-term to long-term
Work On Housekeeping
In challenging times and a fast-changing global landscape, communicating brand identity and values remains important. Coronavirus provides a new challenge for marketers that shines a light on the importance of relying on strategies outside of traditional channels (while expected to remain agile).
Instead of focusing on the panic, or the unknown, take this time to learn and pour any extra time you have to do some housekeeping on your business.
- Evaluate internal company culture. How are you handling this transitional period with your employees? As scary as it is for businesses right now, it’s also scary for employees. How you handle this can reflect your company culture in the future.
- Do some market research, how does your brand compare to the competition?
- Renovate your brand. All those ideas you’ve been throwing around, now’s the time.
- Rediscovery your brand. As certified brand strategists, we can’t tell you enough the importance of doing a brand discovery every couple of years.
- Invest in a new company image: website, logo, etc. What a better way to market yourselves when things settle back down than by launching something new. While you’re mitigating through the present, hiring out to do these projects now can propel you ahead of the competition a few weeks/months from now.
- Setup an online shop. In response to social distancing, foot traffic is decreasing, but digital traffic can ramp up.
- Work on reputation management. People may not be able to support you as before, but they can certainly support your digital presence and reputation. A good reputation online can skyrocket your search engine optimization rankings.
Also known as engagement marketing, experiential marketing during the coronavirus outbreak will help your customers and clients still be actively engaged with your product and organization. When you invest in similar experiential and content marketing strategies delivered through online platforms you are ensuring that your customers are aware that you are still available and interested in their business throughout 2020.
A Note On The Travel Industry
If you are in the travel and tourism industry, things are changing by the day.Many nations, the USA included, has placed bans on non-essential travel. Even so, searches for “cheap flights right now” has grown by 90% over the last 30 days, and very interestingly, “cheap flights due to coronavirus” has increased by a whopping 2,450%.
People Are Looking Towards The Future
While many can’t travel right now, there is an increased interest to do so in the future, especially while flight costs are low. Knowing this, focus strategy on the long term. People aren’t completely shutting down, they’re looking at the future. You want your business to be in that future.
We’re In This Together
Plus, by maintaining your marketing efforts, you’re also supporting other areas of our local communities. Media buys are what keep our media outlets afloat. News media is essential at all times, but especially now, as people need to stay informed with accurate information. If you are fiscally able, continuing your marketing campaigns will not only help to maintain your presence, but will also be supporting our local economy while still allowing everyone to follow social distancing.
SBA Business Guidance During Coronavirus – https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
US Chamber of Commerce Resources for Surviving Coronavirus – https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/small-business-resources-for-surviving-coronavirus
CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html