Marketing in the Days of Covid-19 – Hide and wait, or adapt and overcome?
First and foremost, the staff at The Ripple Effect Group would like to offer our deepest sympathies to those that have suffered loss or financial hardships due to this pandemic. We would also like to acknowledge the brave medical workers and first responders that are on the front lines fighting this outbreak.
In the days of COVID-19 small and medium sized businesses, just like ours, are facing tremendous challenges. Challenges that we were never taught how to handle in our days at business school. Extreme pressure from all angles are causing many owners and managers to hit the panic button. From our vantage point we can see that marketing budgets are one of the first items to get slashed or completely eliminated.
Is this the right move? Is it the only move?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this question. There are many variables which must be considered in order to determine the best strategy; cash flow, reserves, lost revenue, the ability to generate revenue online, business model, customers’ financial status, long term outlook, etc..
If the business is in a good cash position and the long term outlook for the business is a healthy one the business may want to consider the following analogy.
When NASCAR drivers approach a crash ahead and they slow down to avoid it, they either wreck themselves or irrevocably lose their position. Drivers are taught to accelerate toward the crash point because by the time they get there it will have most likely moved away.
This is a bold action and in this market bold actions could reap better than average results.
How is this the case?
We are seeing that ad traffic has dropped considerably on digital platforms. As an example, social media and Google Ad spend budgets have been drastically reduced. The end result of this reduction is the ability to get your business’ message across in a less digitally crowded space. In our experience we are seeing clients get a better bang for their dollar than they did pre-Covid19.
So what’s the strategy we are using with our clients and ourselves (got to put your money where your mouth is, right?)?
Cut the budget? Yes, but don’t eliminate it completely. Look towards a time when the effect of Covid-19 on the consumer will subside. Is this six months from now? Is it a year from now? No one knows. But what we do know is that eventually the tides will have turned and business will return to a sense of normalcy. Use this marketing environment as an opportunity to come out the other side with additional market share.
What should your message be?
First off we need to communicate with our current and potential customers, update them on steps that you’ve taken to respond to the crisis. Are your employees working from home? Share their stories. Are you helping out in your local community, donating supplies or services? Share those stories. These types of messages convey empathy while also building your brand. You should gain in the long run by growing your brand’s reputation and recognition.
Where should your message be?
One thing we can tell you for sure, your customer base has plenty of time on their hands and are spending a bunch of their waking hours online.
From this standpoint an outbound marketing strategy needs to take center stage. Therefore, consider moving a larger portion of your budget to a soap box, outbound, marketing plan. Allocating less to inbound mediums.
Make adjustments to your Google ads to reflect the current atmosphere; change messages and lower that budget. Make adjustments to your lead generation pages and your digital ads that lead customers there. Your message must change to reflect a proactive, environmentally sensitive approach.
Don’t rely just on social and search, consider press releases on major and local networks such as CBS, ABC, Forbes, MSNBC, FOX, etc… Tell your story especially if it’s a “feel good” story, folks are really in need of some positive information.
Are you selling products online? If so, you must offer some sort of tangible benefit for customers to continue to purchase from you. In other words, “in response to the effect of Covid-19 on our customers we are offering a lower price, more goods, a better value”. How does your product, or service, help in this fight ? Convey a message that says we are in this fight together.
As stated previously, in this market bold actions could reap better than average results.
The question is are you going to slow down and lose your position, or accelerate, and maneuver to get past this in a stronger position going forward?
Managing Partner at The Ripple Effect Group