The Coronavirus Downturn – Adjust Your Marketing Plan with these 12 Top Tips

No doubt, most businesses are beginning to succumb to the harsh realities of the coronavirus.

Businesses are feeling the hit as the pandemic suppresses the economy. Restaurants are like graveyards, while grocery stores have nothing but empty shelves.

The chances are that you are looking for a way to cope and keep your business afloat as Australians scramble for answers.

Now is the time to approach business more smartly and be ready to take the bull by the horns.

Many businesses are looking to cut costs, and think cutting their marketing budget is a smart thing to do. But reducing your marketing or operational cost is never a long-term solution. For the sake of continued investment and long-term profitability, staying visible in your market is critical.

Looking to organise your marketing activity during this pandemic? Here are 12 practical steps:

1. You have to hold onto your existing customers

Whatever happens, ensure your customers are never out of sight. You should be in constant touch with your customers, or you may lose them forever. Keeping loyal customers is always cheaper than acquiring new ones.

The most effective way to keep in touch with your customers is to automate your marketing. And when I say marketing automation, I don’t mean spamming people’s inboxes with unsolicited messages, nor do I mean broadcasting cold calling messages to acquire new clients. You need to be sending out well-crafted, personalised messages to customers who want to hear from you. You should be leveraging various platforms such as email, social platforms, or the web to get your messages across. When you automate this process and do it systematically, you’ll achieve great results, and your staff will have more time to perform other vital tasks that will further improve your ROI.

Content production is a vital component of keeping in touch and engaging with your customers. Let them know what you’re offering that makes you stand out from your competitors and let them know of your achievements, client wins, and awards. If you’re running out of inspiration for a B2B content strategy, enter here.

2. Establish a connection with your customers during a critical time

We’re all feeling the hit of the coronavirus pandemic regardless of whether you’re infected or not. We all are trying to be safe within the lockdown, and our kids can’t even go to school right now. Visiting friends seems to be a bad idea too. No more eating out at our choice restaurants or going to see a movie. Although they look like minor issues, they are taking their toll on us.

The best we can all do at this time is to empathise with others and be helpful. This is not the right time to try to go all out and close sales but use the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors during these trying times. Social media these days is filled with people who are forced to sit at home and comb the web for updates, trying to stay connected in an isolated nation.

Becoming more social should also include interacting with your customers. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are where your customers like to hang out and discuss and review your products. Craft an inexpensive social marketing campaign that helps you reach customers at various stages of the social media funnel. Leverage these tools to learn more about your market and customers’ behaviours.

3. Ensure your business is visible online

In case you are yet to realise, most people have lots of time to spend online these days. There’s been a significant increase in search traffic, and it’s expected to keep increasing. Everyone is spending more time on the phone and in front of the computer looking for the latest updates within their local area. We are all trying to break the boredom. For lots of people, they do more shopping online.

The number of people making purchases online will skyrocket. This is the time to improve your online visibility. You should optimise your business for the search engines using white-hat SEO marketing practices so they can get picked up and ranked high in their result pages. Now is not a time for a business to hide in its shell only to poke out its head every other day to see if the coast is clear. (If you need a qualified SEO company to help you with this then please get in touch with a marketing consultant).

You still have people trying to get in touch with companies during work hours, and that is because everyone is at home. Your competition may throw in some adjustments, but that should not make you put things to a halt and lose customers.

4. Become more visible to potential clients

You need to work on your brand awareness and increase your visibility, which means increasing your website’s traffic and making sales. And there is no better way to get in front of potential customers than when they are actively searching for your services or products. You must ensure you are visible at every point in the buying cycle, from evaluating certain offers to exploring new suppliers.

It’s time to test inexpensive strategies that will bring you a steady stream of potential clients regularly. It may feel counter-intuitive, but having a fixed advertising budget set aside will increase productivity in the long run. Concentrate on producing top-notch content that people want to share, and cut down on your budget for not-so-valuable content production.

Your business has a bunch of evergreen content that will remain relevant to your customers and the search engines for a long time. Always revisit your content and update any outdated information or figures. Doing this will help to improve your search engine rankings further.

The opinions of other people about you carry more weight than what you think about yourself. Another way of getting low-cost exposure to a larger pool of prospective customers is to leverage the enormous reach of respected experts in your niche.

5. Now is the time to embrace Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

With the number of people staying at home during this period, it’s a smart idea to use Google Adwords or PPC marketing to get your business in front of more potential clients and gain a massive competitive advantage. Oh, it’s also a great way to conserve your digital marketing budget. There’s been a decrease in cost-per-clicks recently from what we’ve seen in our clients adwords accounts, and the trend is likely to continue in the weeks ahead, which means an advertiser will now pay less than what they used to pay for the same amount of traffic. That means your business can seize this opportunity and recover the market share that was previously lost to the competition.

6. Keep Up the Conversations

A way to implement digital marketing activities that are low cost, but have a great impact is to focus on social proofing and to keep up the positive stories about your business. It’s time to check in and look at your case studies, customer reviews and any other credibility generator that you can leverage at every touch point and weave throughout your website and social channels.

The experience your customers have is paramount. If you have a website, then it’s time to invest more at this crucial time and ensure you are giving a speedy and personalised experience. Just remember that the small low-cost changes you make to your website now will have a positive impact down the track.

Also it’s a really good time to step up with artificial intelligence. Use Facebook Bot sequences to help improve the customer experience and it will also help lower your cost per acquisition for new clients, and ensure that you are pushing the right information to the right person in your team at the perfect time.

Whether you’re focusing on B2C or marketing to other businesses, email marketing is the perfect way to stay engaged with your customers. For B2B, it’s a great time to nurture your existing leads using email newsletters. For B2C or any eCommerce business, you have to realise that consumers buy from a brand they really trust. That’s why you have to keep up the conversations and build trust as it will truly be valuable for the longevity of your business right now and well past the COVID-19 period. So it’s time to set yourself up for the long road ahead and come out a winner on the other side. Get started on email marketing today!

7. Ensure your business is prepared for the inevitable recovery

The coronavirus surge is expected to subside (as we have seen in China) in the coming months. That’s when everything returns to normal, and customers start spending money again. You need to realise that SEO is more of a long-term thing, and the inputs you make today will bear fruits in two months. Putting a stop to your SEO campaign now could be counter-productive for the months ahead when this pandemic starts becoming a thing of the past.

8. Unusual events present opportunities for a unique offer

In this challenging period, there’s an opportunity to help your customers by offering them special discounts that ensure your business stays afloat. Identify your customers’ needs and come up with an irresistible offer. Lots of people aren’t working right now and are searching for ways to save money on online purchases. You can get your compelling offer in front of your target customers through social media, email and per-per-click marketing.

9. Prepare your business for flexibility and keep your customers informed

You should learn to make adjustments in your business when things are not so rosy. This is a time to establish deeper connections with your customers. Empathising with your customers this way ensures you stay relevant at a period when your business may have suffered as a result of people being locked in their homes. For example, lots of restaurants are suspending operations due to little or no patronage. Ensure you incorporate free delivery services into your plan. Also, show your customers what you are doing to step up your safety and sanitary practices.

But this is the perfect time for other businesses to pivot too. Gyms right now are closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but how about offering online workout classes. One of our clients who operates a dance school currently offers online classes through Zoom. They have stepped up their game now by using celebrity dance teachers, and getting the students involved in fun and exciting online competitions and dance challenges. Students and the broader dance community even have the opportunity to judge their favourite performance. There’s a massive increase in engagement rate, plus more and more students across Australia are showing interest.

10. Hold your meeting via online conferencing

While traditional face-to-face meetings are the best, one of the ways to stay afloat is to look for alternative ways of conducting meetings. Provide alternative solutions such as video conferencing via phone call or Zoom before rescheduling, so clients don’t have the impression that you’re disrespecting their time by bailing on the meeting. Whether you decide to have your meeting via phone or conferencing, ensure there is excellent connection where you’re located, and remember to test the channel you want to use before the meeting to avoid any issues. Create an agenda for the meeting and send it to your clients to make things easier when you meet. That way, your clients know what the meeting is about and won’t mistakenly meet with your competitor.

If you’re used to holding bi-weekly or monthly meetings with your clients, it’s time to double the frequency. Consistent communication and reassurance remain the best ways to keep clients motivated and calm. We meet on a bi-monthly basis, but now we are switching to weekly meetings via phone call or video call.

Just remember that building a relationship is more of a marathon rather than a flat-out sprint. You have to thing about where you want to be positioned in the future. i.e. Where do you want to be in six months time or even further down the track? Everyone always remembers when they’re clients and colleagues always go over and above the call of duty. Be tuned into your clients needs right now – and it will be off nicely in the long run.

11. Measure everything you can

If you’re not measuring your marketing then you can’t manage it effectively. And you could be throwing money down the sink if you’re not managing it right.

If you measure then it means you have some form of accountability for each dollar you spend. There are all types of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you can measure against too including leads generated, sales, No of referrals, cross-sells and upsells too.

This is also the perfect time to configure your Google Analytics account. Are your goals set up properly? Is the Search Console connected? Have you worked out what you’re actually measuring? Are you using the free information which you can find in Google Analytics to help mould your marketing strategy?

When budgets are restricted, you might need to make some harsh decisions on how you will spend your money and allocate your time effectively. Most people tend to stop social media as it is considered very time consuming and always put in the non-essential bucket. But before you throw in the towel, make sure you have fully researched and understood how social media is feeding your bottom line in terms of visibility, engagement and how much profit you make.

12.  Keep testing and learning

On a final note, it’s a tale of different strokes for different folks when it comes to digital marketing.

Your creativity and diligence will always be needed. Evaluate your success and draw out vital lessons from your tests.

  • Experiments need to be easy, cheap, and quick to implement
  • If it turns out successful, great, then repeat it, please
  • If it fails, turn it off and move on to the next project. No offence committed. Move quickly and ruthlessly. You will have learned some vital lessons from it, allowing you to brace up for new experiments.

Now that you don’t have to drive to the office anymore or have meetings, your work calendar is now free for you to focus on what you’d rather do, and enjoy some “me” time. All those marketing activities that fell off the radar can now be seen with fresh eyes.

Perhaps it’s time to give your website a fresh, new look? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to create a lead-nurturing sequence for new email subscribers? Bright Owl Marketing’s creative design and marketing professionals can give your brand an overhaul in the space of a couple of months while you’re working away from the office. It’s also a great time to review how effective your SEO or Adwords account is going, or any other marketing activity that’s underperforming or not turning leads into amazing customers.

Contact Us Today

Contact us today to find out how Australia’s leading marketing agency can help you identify and implement the right marketing campaign for your business during the COVID-19 period. We also have some great Marketing Consulting packages to give you the best advice and support to help your business grow during this time too.

One of our friendly marketing consultants will ask questions about your small business, industry, target audience and current marketing activities to see if our services are a good fit.

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