Playing the Long Game: Why to Invest in Marketing during Coronavirus
One of my favorite quotes from Mike Tyson has been in my head a lot lately:
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
And while Mike was talking about the boxing ring, it’s pretty applicable to the economic situation we’re facing right now.
The COVID-19 crisis has served a lot of business owners a metaphorical punch in the mouth.
Your first quarter plans were likely trashed.
Your second quarter might not be looking so hot.
You might have had contingency plans, but most of us didn’t have contingency plans for a global pandemic that brought the economy to a grinding halt in many industries.
So what should you do? How do you stabilize your business right now?
You might see other leaders in your field making decisions based on fear and uncertainty; they are cutting back on spending for branding or paid ads, laying people off, and generally hunkering down to ride out the storm.
While I do understand the instinct to preserve — it’s a huge mistake.
The real winners are going to be the business leaders that realize this time is an opportunity.
Even if profits are a little lower, if clients are scaling back, there is an opportunity to take stock of your past successes, to invest wisely, to train staff, and to put time into creating content that will help you grow both now and in six months from now.
Here’s the deal — turning off all your marketing and content creation efforts right now is the worst thing you can do. You’ll have nothing to come back to when this is all over because you’ve been out of consumers’ minds for months.
So, what is the answer? Let’s dive into three things you need to do.
1. Get Clear on Your Business’ Future
Where do you see your business in five years? In ten years?
Are you growing, moving to a different sector? Diversifying your offerings?
When you have a clear vision of the future, you’ll have a better idea of what actions will get you there.
If you don’t know where you are going, there’s a good chance your decisions are going to be all over the place.
Maybe you are thinking,
“But everything is so uncertain right now. How can I be committed to a vision when I don’t know what is going to happen next week, much less next month?”
I get that. I am not saying you should make dumb decisions (like investing more than you have to spend in paid content ads), but rather view this time as an opportunity to invest in long term growth.
Take the time to take stock of where your business is and where it is going.
Why is this so important?
Because if you don’t know where your business is going, it’s impossible to chart a path to get there.
Your plans may change over time — that is totally okay. But getting clear on your future will help you decide what is important today.
2. Don’t Make Decisions Based on Fear
If your vision for the future of your business hasn’t changed, then don’t make changes now that could torpedo your future.
For example, if you are looking to double your business in the next five years, then it doesn’t make sense to lay off staff now, right?
This is temporary, so it makes more sense to find other ways to use your staff rather than laying them off. You might even rely on a PEO company to help you find the best HR options for your business.
Now, if you can’t pay the bills, that is different.
You’ll have some tough decisions to make that can’t be decided by reading a blog post on the internet.
But if your goal is to grow, and if you were on track to meet that goal before the pandemic started, then you need to take a long hard look at the changes in your industry and ask yourself,
“Are these changes likely to be temporary?”
If they are, then it doesn’t make sense to lay staff off just to bring them back in a few months.
When you let fear guide your decisions, you are giving up control of your business. You move into reacting to changes rather than building a proactive business and marketing strategy that complements your value chain.
Here is what to do instead.
3. Focus on Long Term Growth Strategies To Survive The Economic Downturn
Instead of focusing on short term wins — which tend to be more expensive anyway — now is the time to focus on long-term growth strategies that will help your business come roaring back.
Let’s look at four long-term growth strategies that will help your business stay on track and play the long game, so you’re ready to roll when things get back to normal.
Invest More in Expert Content
Let’s say you run a restaurant supply company. A lot of restaurants are shut down at the moment, so it’s not going to make much sense to spend money on ads targeting restaurant managers to buy a new food cart or whatever, right?
But you do have a lot of folks on staff that know a lot about your products and services. And they may not be as busy calling clients and juggling deadlines.
Which means right now is the right time to get those subject matter experts to create really in-depth content they might not normally have time to create.
If you’re a software company like Nlyte, that might mean asking your partners and experts to write long-form posts about DCIM, data centers, and edge computing.
If you are a sales tool company like Reply.io, that might mean having your team create detailed guides or write FAQ pages like building a solid SDR process.
If you own a financial wellness blog, you might want to share the best ways to make money online or, for individuals struggling with credit management, the best credit repair companies to help them with financial trouble.
Here’s the thing — content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy.
You can’t just grind out 2,000 words, slap in a dozen keywords, and call it a day.
(I mean you could, but you’d be wasting your time.)
The top-ranked articles can take hours to write — and months to earn all the links they need to rank well.
For starters, 2,000 words may not be enough. In fact, posts with between 3,000 and 10,000 words earn more backlinks than shorter content — which helps them rank better in search results.
Creating a long-form post might feel a little overwhelming, but you’ve got time!
Start by researching what content your prospective clients are interested in.
For example, someone who needs a content management system might want to know how to find qualified leads.
So you create that content, add images, backlinks, and build a paid promotion strategy.
As a result, they are going to trust your business when they need a CMS — even if they aren’t ready to pull the trigger for a few months.
Get on the Video Bandwagon
Video is kind of a big deal right now.
You might have noticed — there’s a good chance you are one of YouTube’s 2 billion users.
People don’t want to read; they want to watch a video; they want to actually experience what a brand has to offer.
And, there’s even more good news.
That is a lot of content.
In addition to the general rise in video consumption, more people are stuck at home — making now pretty much the best time ever to invest in video marketing.
You don’t need a $1K camera set up, fancy ring light, or high-end video editing software to make solid videos.
A smartphone or your laptop camera is good enough to get you started.
So, what types of video should you create?
You can also integrate videos into your content, like how Preply added a simple video to their post about improving English pronunciation.
This not only keeps your readers entertained, but it also helps them remember better as they engage and do practice exercises along the way.
If you aren’t already all-in on retargeting, now is the time to figure out how to make it work for your brand.
Retargeting uses information about users’ previous internet searches or interactions to send hyper-targeted ads.
And it’s incredibly effective.
More than 90% of marketers using retargeting say it is as effective or more effective than search, email, or display ads.
And website visitors who see retargeted ads are 43% more likely to convert.
Retargeting is also incredibly flexible and can be done through email marketing, SEO, social ads, or Google Display ads.
So, how do you get started?
Your retargeting strategy will depend on the industry you are in and whether or not people are buying.
Here’s a few ways to start implementing retargeting:
Remember all the content you created earlier? Retargeting can help make sure that awesome content gets found by people who have already interacted with your site.
Use Facebook retargeting ads to follow up with users who added an item to their cart, but never checked out.
You could also leverage Google Ads retargeting to build brand awareness by targeting consumers who have visited your website, but didn’t file out your contact form.
It is important to view this current situation as an opportunity for a few reasons, First, it will help with general morale. Most importantly, it will help you lean into strategies you didn’t have the bandwidth for before.
Work On Your Business
The direct marketing strategies like the ones I’ve listed above will help your company stay on track so that when things get back to normal, you aren’t starting from scratch.
But don’t forget about long term growth strategies outside of direct marketing strategies.
What actions can you take today that will ensure the long term growth of your business?
For example, what course have you been wanting to take but never had the time? Can you make calls to check in on clients, or move your files over to a digital system?
Look for ways to grow your skill set, your business acumen, and your team as a whole. Invest in your team so that when the client work or sales start picking up, you are in a better position.
Here are a few other ideas for working on your business during the pandemic:
- Examine your workflow: Are there processes that you can streamline or software you can use to help your team work more efficiently?
- Take courses: Are there services/products your customers have been asking for? Learn the skills you’ll need to launch a new service or product line.
- Update your website: When was the last time you revamped your online presence? Now is the perfect time to redo content, update the About page, add new images, and maybe even redo your branding.
- Consume content: Pick up that business book you’ve always meant to read or listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to start. Consuming content introduces you to new ideas, which improves your creativity.
- Develop a long-term business plan: Have you taken the time to write down your business goals for the next 5, 10, or 15 years? Now might be a good time to outline where your business is going.
I see a lot of business owners giving in to fear and uncertainty right now. There’s no doubt that things are tough for a lot of business leaders.
The businesses that find success after all this is over are the ones that see this downtime as an opportunity to focus on growth and building a stronger business foundation.
Final Thoughts on Marketing During Economic Downturns
Tough times make it clear which businesses are leaders and which businesses don’t have what it takes to weather the tough times. If you want to be a leader in your industry, now is not the time to throw in the towel on marketing; it is time to be smart about where your marketing dollars are going and leverage effective, long-term growth strategies.
Joanne Camarce is a digital marketing expert specializing in SEO, eCommerce, and social media. She loves meeting new people and embraces challenges. When she’s not wearing her marketing hat, you’ll find Joanne fine-tuning her art and music skills.