What we’ve experienced over the past several months due to the COVID-19 outbreak and shut down is like nothing we’ve experienced in our lifetime, especially the fast and broad economic impact.
According to Morningstar, 2020 real U.S. GDP growth is expected to be negative 2.9%, factoring in -5.0% due to the Coronavirus. But the reality is that no one really knows. The question isn’t the extent of the financial hit. You know it. Your business knows it. And your employees know it. But now the question is how to bounce back from it.
Here are marketing techniques your business can use now to not just survive, but to thrive in the coming months.
1. Become The Expert
In good times (i.e. a bull market), you can throw a dart and hit a winning stock. Not so in a down or recovering market. Consumers and companies will be just as choosey relative to buying goods and services.
Money is tight so people will want to buy from experts (B2C, B2B and DTC) in
order to justify the expense and get an enhanced return on performance. Thus, smart companies will focus on what they do best and sell the heck out of it vs. trying to be all things to all people, which is easier to get away with when things are rosy.
2. Maintain Or Even Increase Marketing Spend
Recovering from the Coronavirus shut down, it’s tempting to drastically cut back or eliminate advertising and marketing all together, especially after laying off employees and taking pay cuts. However, numerous studies dating back to the 1960s consistently illustrate that companies and brands that continue to invest in marketing and advertising in down markets not only enhance market share and brand perception during the downturn, but also when things improve. Your competition is likely to cut or eliminate marketing and advertising, which means you shouldn’t.
Plus, in down markets advertising rates are cheaper. In fact, digital ad rates are already down 41% YoY (Wall Street Journal). This means you’ll get more ad impressions and exposure for your dollar, which helps your company increase its category share of voice and, potentially, market share.
Maintain/Increase Marketing Spend While Others Retreat.
Increase Share Of Voice And Market Share.
Strongly consider increasing (that’s right, increasing), your marketing and advertising budget at least 10% from what it normally is as your company stabilizes and pushes forward. (Most established companies across all industries allocate 2-3% of gross sales to advertising. Consumer goods companies typically allocate 20-25% of sales to advertising.). This may be tough to rationalize or justify, no doubt. But the sooner your company stimulates sales, the faster your company will grow again, and the sooner you can bring back employees, hire new ones, and return to profitability.
3. Market To Steal Share
Now is not the time to go trolling for new customers not already favorably pre-disposed to your product, service or category. It’s very expensive to create new customers from scratch and do the missionary work necessary to convert non-believers into believers.
If you haven’t done so already, understand and create your buyer’s journey and marketing funnel and focus on those customers in the Evaluation/Intent stages, i.e. those already in the market for what you’re selling. It will take less to convince them that you’re the right product or solution, especially if you’re focusing on your expertise. Thus, it becomes a market-share battle, which you’re more likely to win if you’re actively marketing and advertising, rather than trying to convert unwilling customers.
Also, focus on existing customers at the bottom of the marketing funnel to get current customers to buy more in order to decrease your cost per sale and increase your revenue per customer.
Market To Mid And Bottom Funnel To Increase Share
4. Employ The Right Digital Marketing Tactics To Quickly Increase Sales
Beyond being where most consumers live, digital and mobile marketing offer the ability to quickly test, learn and optimize what’s working in order to put money behind the strategies and tactics that clearly achieve marketing KPIs and lead to sales. This is especially important in a down or recovering economy when money’s tight and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and marketing ROI are crucial.
- Increasing paid search (Google Ads) can help restaurants quickly increase search share of voice, traffic and sales; 90% of searchers haven’t made up their mind on a brand before starting a search (Status Labs).
- Enhanced content marketing with video can help spike B2B sales, especially focusing on areas of expertise, given that content marketing generates 3x as many leads as paid search (Content Marketing Institute).
- Email marketing – done right – can help construction companies hasten inquiries in that construction is among the top three industries with the highest email click-through rates (Hubspot).
But the breadth and depth of digital marketing has become so complex and data-driven that rarely does one size fit all or one tactic work by itself. We’ve gone from roughly 10 ways to communicate with customers (TV, radio, print, direct mail, telemarketing, etc.) to well over 50 (traditional + chat, webinars, social, web sites, paid search, apps, display ads, influencers, games, email, video, etc.).
In a down or recovering economy, many companies try to handle digital marketing and advertising in-house to conserve dollars. But digital marketing, is no longer a DIY business.
This Is No Time For A Learning Curve.
Digital Marketing Requires An Experienced, Integrated Team Of Specialists.
It requires an integrated team of specialists all working together to help achieve measurable KPIs and goals. It’s incredibly expensive for small and mid-sized companies to house and pay for the pool of talent and resources needed to be successful. Salaries alone could easily top $500k for even a small team of mid-level digital marketers – SEO, paid search, content, social, web site/app design, analytics, etc. And this doesn’t even include the technology, hardware, software, and subscriber service costs needed to successfully plan, implement and analyze digital/mobile marketing. And finally, there’s no time for a learning curve when you need to increase sales now!
It is much more cost effective to hire an experienced digital marketing agency and let them incur the overhead of the resources and talent vs. trying to do it in-house. Plus, because digital marketing, data and analytics go hand-in-hand, agency compensation can be partially based on achieving measurable results, which conserves cash flow and provides an added incentive for an agency to perform.
Done properly, digital marketing more than pays for itself with the ability to know that for every dollar spent an incremental dollar amount of revenue is generated, which is imperative given the current environment.
We know that many tough days and weeks lie ahead. But your company can and will bounce back from all of this even stronger – if proactive marketing steps are enacted now rather than ‘waiting for things to get better.’ By then, it may be too late.