It’s not a good idea to abandon your marketing efforts during a global pandemic…

It’s a global pandemic. Life has changed. Some businesses are being hit hard. Others, not as hard and others somewhere in between. There seems to be no rainbow in sight and now is the time to abandon your marketing efforts.

When life and business get turned upside down, it’s natural to go into “hunker down” mode. It’s understandable to want to cut all expenses and anticipate the worst. None of us should feel bad about these very valid (and sometimes practical) reactions.

We are unsure about what the future holds and there are so many things out of our control right now. And it’s normal to feel vulnerable and anxious about what lies ahead. However, there are many reasons why it’s not a good idea to completely abandon your marketing efforts and this time. In fact, marketing should continue or even get more resources.

People are on social media a lot more right now

A recent study pointed to a sharp rise in social media usage right now. It makes sense because just about everyone is now working from home and spending a lot more time following current events.

If you run campaigns on social media, now may be a great time to double down. Attention is in high supply and the competition may be pushing pause, give you a unique opportunity to gain more attention.

In particular, the leading platforms like Facebook and Instagram are likely to be incredibly high value as people follow breaking stories and argue about politics (Facebook) and share inspiration and life stories (Instagram).

Building a list may be easier than ever right now

People everywhere are looking for hope and inspiration. They are looking forward to the day when they can socialise again and see life get back to normal. Now is the time to create content that inspires and helps.

Whether you’re in B2B or B2C or both, provide value. I have heard of other small businesses suspending monthly website hosting fees for 3 months, other companies such as Google offering free access for Google Cloud advanced Hangouts Meet for all G-Suite and G-Suite for Education customers and Loom has scrapped the number of free videos that a user can access until July 1st (previously the limit was 25).

Now may be the time to launch that amazing offer, course, podcast, download, video series, webinar, or pillar page that helps your audience navigate their challenges. Now may be a great time to use content to build your email list, your social media custom audiences, your podcast subscribers, your video followers, and any channel that you are building a community around.

People in both B2B and B2C are looking for hope and guidance. Be part of the solution and provide help to them and when everyone is bursting out of this crisis and moving full steam ahead in business, you have been part of the solution all along which gives you the social and business currency to turn that loyalty into revenue.

Marketing is not a switch; 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. But that’s 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 is.

If you suddenly grind it to a halt, you have to start over by building momentum again. You may have to re-earn loyalty from your audience if they haven’t heard from you in a while. You may have to re-gain SEO rankings because the competition kept going.

Rather than halt marketing, you are likely better off maintaining or even increasing your efforts so you are running strong when the storm passes.

Businesses are reinventing themselves

While some businesses are unfortunately truly struggling, others are reinventing themselves. From restaurants to breweries to retail, many B2C businesses are pivoting in response to the coronavirus in 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.

How can your business serve the community in the current environment? What can you do to pivot and adapt your message? Yes, there is some negative news out there. But there are also some amazing opportunities.

Some of these opportunities involve companies like Calendly who are now offering free integration into Zoom and GoToMeeting. If you are in the NGO or not-for-profit space, there are many companies now offering free support services such as BlueJeans who’s services are now free for first responders and NGO’s helping to manage the COVID-19 outbreaks. Dropbox Business and HelloSign Enterprise will be free for 6 months for NGO’s and not-for-profit organisations. Microsoft has also announced it is making the basic version of Office 365 including Microsoft Teams, free for 6 months in response to the need for employees to work from home.

So, the short message is, there are tools out there to help you adapt and pivot your business into the new conditions, so don’t abandon all your marketing efforts right now.

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. We don’t know how long (or short) it will be but it’s likely.

When this occurs, your competition is likely to cut back. This is your chance to gain ground. It’s been well-documented that 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 in an increase in “share of market.” An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits.

Many well-known companies like Kellogg’s and Amazon became the uncontested leaders in their space by increasing marketing during recessions. And they’re basically unstoppable now.

A decision to make

So, what should you do? That’s something only you can answer for your business. There are many very real considerations to work through including cash flow and financial situation. But 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. Think carefully and don’t abandon all your marketing efforts now.

How can we help you?

At Content Box, we are dedicated to Making Marketing Easy for small to mid-sized businesses. In these challenging times, we are working closely with all our clients to help them navigate the new world we are currently facing.

As an offer to other small businesses seeking extra support, we are offering a FREE website audit and a FREE no obligation 30-minute phone consultation to help you maintain your marketing activities, using some of the great tools out there. To keep your marketing efforts going and be on the road that finds the rainbow with the pot of gold Click here!  (Be patient it takes a few minutes to generate the report)