Since COVID-19 was announced a global pandemic a couple of months ago, our entire world as we know it has been turned upside down. We’ve had to adapt to a new way of life – not seeing our loved ones, social distancing and hand sanitisers have become the daily norm while watching the footy at the pub with friends has become a distant memory plus going weeks/months without a haircut or manicured nails.
But what we’ve also seen is a huge impact on our businesses. With fewer customers and cuts to contracts and retainers, loss of employment in some awful cases and in a lot of industries having to close down all operations entirely for the foreseeable future, businesses are quite rightly looking for ways to save money and slash outgoings. In many cases, the first budget to be cut is marketing as this can be seen as a luxury spend. According to Net Imperative, “The coronavirus pandemic has led to cuts to all forms of marketing activity in the UK, dropping 6.1% overall”.
However, there can be opportunities to continue growth and brand visibility even during these tricky times so if at all possible, don’t ditch the marketing efforts you’ve had in place altogether and look at ways to shift your focus to tend to the changing needs of your target audience.
Paid advertising costs such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads are at an all-time low. This type of advertising operates on an auction system with companies bidding on words which in turn ups the cost, however with fewer companies bidding the cost is coming down.
Pay per click advertising is a great way to get a quick fix and the best thing about it is you can stop it at any time – you’re in total control of your daily budget and when you want to advertise and when you don’t. Furthermore, by driving traffic to your site through paid advertising you’ll also be giving your SEO a boost.
This may seem counterintuitive in the interest of saving money however, it has been seen in several industries that by helping others out and giving away certain features this is good for brand visibility and awareness, traffic to your website plus the chance to sell related products.
Companies across several sectors have been seen offering discounted subscriptions to certain software to help people working from home and free training courses for those wishing to further their career.
If you have an offering that could be of benefit to others and you’re in a position to offer it free of charge then why not!? Not only can you help someone in need but you could also see a positive impact on your brand in doing so.
Keep up your Brand Visibility
Keep up your brand visibility by staying in touch with your current audience whether it be via social media, email marketing or blogging (or all of the above). Keep your customers up to date with your activity such as details of how you are keeping them safe if you have a premise that is open, or sharing any news you may have within the company – just staying in touch with your audience means they will be reminded of your brand.
A perfect example of this is with Longdown Activity Farm in the New Forest (a place I love to visit with my son). Since having to remain closed to the public due to COVID-19 they have been creating videos online showcasing different parts of the farm in every clip, they’ve also created a diary of the farm each week for visitors to stay in touch with their news. These videos have been great for fun and educational purposes for both adults and children.
Shifting Focus to Digital Offerings
It’s no surprise that people have been spending more time online since the lockdown began as more people are spending time at home. In fact, home broadband use has increased by almost 29%!
So if that’s where your customers are hanging out then that’s where you should be targeting. Traditional methods of marketing such as magazines, billboards etc are not going to be any use during this time. Several businesses have adapted to a more digital approach with their audience with fitness classes taking place in their front rooms via a Youtube link, the small local sweet shop now offers a shop online and delivery service, a friend of mine even ‘attended’ a virtual beer festival just recently! One of our clients is a physiotherapist company and they have been offering virtual consultations.
If you read our previous blog about digital marketing for small businesses then you’ll know that you don’t have to spend much, or anything at all, to carry out some level of digital marketing. Think about how you currently market your business, how can you adapt your way of thinking to suit the changes in your marketplace? Online tools such as Zoom have been a godsend for many businesses to stay in touch with clients, customers and colleagues.
Can you sell your product online? If you don’t have a website and you don’t have the budget for one just now then you can look at hosts such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy to sell products (just look into the commission rates so you know what the outgoings would be).
Can you offer local delivery? If you have a local audience then why not look into providing a local delivery service or even click and collect while practicing social distancing.
Do you offer events which could be hosted via a webex? Webex software such as Zoom allows you to connect with several people with audio and video all at one time so consultations, networking events etc can all be carried out via online video.
Planning for the future
The past few months have been incredibly difficult for most, if not all businesses in one way or another although smaller businesses are more likely to be struggling than larger organisations.
Now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel; we can’t help but feel this ‘new normal’ may be sticking around for a while so we need to think about how we can shift our marketing efforts to accommodate this.
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.