COVID-19 has affected the entire world in an unprecedented way. In a matter of weeks, US white-collar workers went from working in an office, coffee shop, or coworking space to self-isolation and quarantine. Closures to non-essential businesses like daycares and restaurants have shifted our routines. Most people are no longer working “nine to five,” but instead are piecing together their workdays as we make room for new responsibilities like homeschooling and dinner prep. Business are wondering how long this will last and whether or not their sales will recover.
However, we shouldn’t view these changes and disruptions as all bad. People are resilient, and when times get tough, we get innovative. For business leaders and owners, we have to position our companies to react with that same vigor. COVID-19 has changed the landscape we knew. Now the question is, how are you thinking differently during this crisis to prepare your business for the future?
Don’t Wait For a Date, Plan Your Next Steps Now.
At some point, we’ve all heard the saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” In a time of uncertainty, like the one we’re facing today, a single plan or route may not be enough. The fact is that we don’t know when the world will go back to work, and the economy can start up again, so it’s best to prepare for a few scenarios to maximize revenue with whatever time remains in the year. However, before you can plan for the future, you’ll need to understand where you are today and what options are available.
Re-evaluate Your Marketing Plan To Consider COVID-19
Due to market uncertainty, most companies have experienced slumping sales, and that means overall business goals and objectives are changing. How has COVID-19 affected your marketing plan? What moves are you making to drive new sales?
In a sound marketing plan, every objective, strategy, and tactic ties back to the overall goals of the company. It’s time to re-evaluate your plan, and the best place to start is with your clients.
Are you targeting the right clients?
How much has COVID-19 affected your customer base? Depending on the industries you serve, your answer to this question may vary wildly. If the bulk of your clients are in a hard-hit sector, such as travel, it might be worth exploring new verticals while that industry rebounds. For those of you serving companies in an industry like healthcare, can you expand your market share? Are you able to run more ads to target different customer subsets?
Here are some additional questions to ask yourself:
- Will the length of your sales cycle increase with certain types of clients?
- On average, the B2B sales cycle lasts four months. Is your company prepared for it to last longer?
- Is your product or service vital to your customer’s business?
- We refer to this as “product stickiness.”
- “Sticky product experiences generate repeat usage by definition. When customers realize some sort of value—be it financial, operational, or simple enjoyment— they continue using the product frequently.”
- Are there new segments that you can target with your current products or services?
- If your widgets can serve markets outside of your current scope, it might be time to pivot.
These are not easy questions to answer. Shifting resources to target a new vertical or subset of clients is not an easy decision or one to be taken lightly. However, it is something to think about. If you do decide to go after a new market, read our article about creating customer profiles to learn how to best tailor your content to their needs.
Do your marketing strategies still make sense?
Are you battening down the hatches and not spending a dime until the crisis is over? Did your fourth-quarter revenue goals change? Changes to your business plan have a massive impact on the direction of your marketing efforts. For example, one of our clients typically spends a hefty amount of their sales budget on connecting with new and existing clients at conventions and trade shows. With most of those events canceled, they’ve chosen to shift their focus toward performing more outreach on social media. A marketing strategy that still allows them to connect with their current customers and attract new leads, but in a different way.
Here are a few areas to examine in your marketing plan:
- Upcoming Events and Travel
- Conferences, trade shows, and other events are likely not returning until the first quarter of 2021, at the earliest.
- Physical Sales Materials
- With limitations placed on travel, your salespeople will probably not use their full allotment of fliers, business cards, and promo items.
- Ad Spend
- People are hesitant to spend money during the COVID-19 pandemic. It may make sense to reduce your ad costs now to use it after the economy turns back on.
Hopefully, you now have a greater understanding of your current situation and some options to think through. Let’s talk about your marketing budget.
Shift Your Marketing Budget
In 2020, we’ve had many marketing budget discussions with our clients, and the majority of these talks have centered around moving and reallocating expenses.
Some of our clients were apprehensive about advertising. Our advertising data is showing us that online shopping is at an all-time high. People are receptive to the ads we are running and our results are shockingly positive.
Our B2C ads are performing 2x better than last year. Our impressions are up and sales are keeping some of our clients revenue neutral, despite COVID-19.
The B2B advertising space shows promise but because so many businesses are being cautious, we are coaching our clients through different methods of engagement. Like you, our clients don’t know when everything will go back to normal, but that’s not keeping them from planning, they are doing so with various dates in mind.
Other clients have chosen to reallocate parts of their budget into new expense categories. In these cases, our customers had set aside specific amounts for costs related to travel, events, and entertainment. With the quarantine in effect, these budgeted expenses no longer make sense.
Our more innovative and resilient clients are exploring new ways to drive sales and grow their companies online. One particular customer is considering social media advertising as a replacement.
What are you doing to supplement expenses that are now irrelevant due to the COVID-19?
Change How You Communicate
No one is meeting in person right now. Even food delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash have made “Leave at the door” the primary method of drop-off. However, it’s still essential that you stay connected with your customers and drive business. What are you doing to keep in touch?
We’ve seen a significant shift in the ways our clients are communicating with their customers. Right now, those clients that have historically met with customers in person are now focusing their efforts on social media and email outreach. Instead of creating flyers to hand out at shows, we’re designing social media and email campaigns for them. These clients understand that even in a pandemic, your customers need to know that you’re still there for them and that your services can still solve their needs.
Shifting your focus to digital communication is one part of the puzzle, the next is making sure your customers see your message. To stand out from the crowd on social media and the fray of “fire drill” emails currently cluttering their inbox is going to require some out of the box thinking. For some business leaders, this may require stepping out of your comfort zone.
Historically, video performs very well online. It may be time to record a message for your customers and share it with them using email and social media. If you’re camera-shy, one of our clients is taking this time to write and share articles as part of a thought-leadership campaign. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s focused on the needs of your audience and that it’s something they can understand and connect with.
Here are some critical marketing services that can help you maintain healthy communication with your prospects and existing clients during COVID-19:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Advertising
- Blog Writing
“Semper Gumby” is an unofficial military motto that means “Always Flexible” and what a great thing to keep in mind during a crisis. There’s no doubt that times are tough right now, but if you are willing to be flexible and think differently than most business leaders, you’ll have your company ready to roll when the economy flips back to the “on” position.
Fable Heart Media is Here For You.
We are Fable Heart Media, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, FL, that focuses on driving measurable growth and obtaining results for our clients. Whether you own a small company or lead a marketing team, our team can help you achieve your business goals. We love creating stunning websites and writing awesome blogs, but for us, nothing tops the feeling of watching our clients grow online due to our marketing partnership.