You undoubtedly have seen many companies release their response to the COVID-19 crisis. The reason why corporations and large businesses alike have gone on record with their words about understanding the hardships that many are facing is to relate to their consumers and to demonstrate their concern. You are never too small of a company or business to reach out to customers during these trying times.
In fact, it is the best way to create a sense of community and goodwill that will last long after social distancing and isolation are behind us. One key thing to remember is to keep your messages inspirational and positive. Remind your customers that out of struggle comes growth. And also that it is during these times of hardship when the goodness within people shines through, which includes how your company shows your empathy for those around it.
Calm Fear and Anxiety by Keeping it Positive
People are on high alert, with reason, and your job as a leader in the community is to fight against fear and help people to channel it in positive ways. Your customers want to be reminded that the COVID-19 conditions are temporary. And also that you are doing everything as a company to still service customers, but in the safest way possible while observing the CDC's recommended procedures for COVID-19.
Don’t just use epithets to lift their spirits, use factual knowledge that will give them hope and bring back a sense of reality versus panic. Be more transparent than ever, as people need your authenticity as a business owner to shine through.
As a small business, just one full week into social distancing and shutdowns might feel like it is a disaster.
And for many, financially, it has been. But remind your customers and yourself that now is not the time to give in and give up. Once the virus is over and cases around the world have plateaued, things will not just return to normal, they will be ripe for businesses to forge ahead for a strong second half of the fiscal year.
There is still time for small businesses to meet their revenue goals. When panic mode sets in, you may think it is time to pause your marketing efforts. However, if you do so, you are opening the door for competitors to overtake you at your time of weakness. The businesses who continue to forge ahead for the next month or two will come out ahead.
Forward Thinkers Excel – Just Look at History
Throughout history, there have been times of economic growth and others of decline. The one thing that all businesses that excel after times of recession show are that those who stay the course outperform those that cut their resources and shrink their marketing efforts.
According to studies focused on analyzing stats across historical recessions, the data is conclusive that you should not waiver on your marketing efforts, especially during downtimes such as this. According to Forbes magazine, there is one tried and true fact, and that is the adage, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise."
Examples of how great campaigns during times of hardship work are:
- Kellogg’s “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Pop" campaign during the Great Depression in the 1920s helped grow their company profits by 30% and positioned them as leaders in the dry cereal industry. At a time when other companies brought their marketing efforts to a standstill, Kellogg doubled down. And it more than paid off when they left competitors, who ceased to take advantage, in the lurch for decades afterward.
- In the 1973 recession that spanned over two fiscal years, Toyota, who was the front runner, was tempted to drop their marketing and advertising budget. But they saw the threat of Honda’s popularity, so they stayed on course with their marketing campaign. In 1976, Toyota was far ahead of both Honda and Volkswagen who did not increase their efforts. And Toyota quickly became the top carmaker in the country.
- McDonald's was by far ahead of the other fast-food restaurants when America hit the 1990-1991 recession. Seeing themselves as the market leader, they scaled back to weather the storm. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut didn’t, and they went full force ahead. As a result, Taco Bell’s sales increased by 40% and Pizza Hut by 61%, while McDonald's sales decreased by 28% in the following year.
- During the 2009 recession, Amazon took advantage of a weak economy not by cutting costs, but instead by growing their technology. They released the Kindle, which took off with fervor. Their sales, due to their efforts, grew by over 28%.
Although these are examples about big businesses and corporations, the same principle holds for small businesses. One inarguable fact is that life will return to business as usual. And what you want to do over the next couple of months is to keep your business at the forefront of people’s minds for when it does—not disappear and let your competitors steal your share of the marketplace.
Now is the Time to Double Down!
One unprecedented difference between this recession and others is internet use. People who are practicing social distancing, or even lockdowns, are finding themselves with time on their hands and nothing to do. While stuck at home, they are hitting the internet like never before. Social media marketing is all about building your brand through engagement and brand familiarity. So now is not the time to throw in the towel, it is time to double down.
Although you can make predictions about when people are viewing their social media during regular times, you can safely assume you are going to get maximum exposure whenever you post throughout the COVID-19 era. The opportunity to build your brand and create familiarity has never been so rich! It is a unique scenario of having an incredibly captive audience.
What Makes Your Business Beneficial During These Specific Times?
Now is the time to set your business apart from the rest by telling your audience how you can benefit them most. Do you deliver? Is your business able to help people online rather than in-person? If you are a small business owner, think of ways to deliver your services without contact and then advertise. Although it might appear that having your work out club shut its doors is detrimental, get your trainers online and offer in-home training. Or, for dentists, offer online consultations.
You have a captive audience who is looking for things to do. Think about the ways that you can innovate your business practices to provide them with services from home. The key to growing any business is to adapt and innovate in the face of new demands. So instead of seeing this time as devastation for what you can no longer provide, think outside of the box to see how you can find a niche to overcome.
Once you find your new in, make sure to double down your social media efforts to reel people in. You will reach an entirely new audience if you do. And then when the COVID-19 era is over, you can resume business as usual. Or, you can continue to offer services that do well.
Find Mediums to Bridge Social Distancing
The only way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing. But that doesn’t mean people don’t still need services! If you have a business that can provide online sessions or use the many different connection platforms available, then not only will you not miss out, you can profit! Things like Zoom Video Conferencing and Skype can keep business running as usual. And since they are highly popular and simple to use, people might find that it is a better way to connect even in good times.
Maybe you are a business that can use technology such as drone imaging to inspect people’s roofs? Are you an HVAC company that can perform contactless services to your customers? Going digital will give your customers confidence in your service during this time of panic.
SEO Has Always Been a Long-Term Strategy!
Hopefully, you understood when you began your SEO digital marketing that it was a slow and steady process. SEO is a long-term marketing strategy that you build over time. It isn’t a flash in the pan, but a way to gain exposure and brand familiarity that happens with time. Now is not the time to pull the plug on your efforts.
If anything, it is time to enhance them. Never before have people been so tied to the internet, which is why you should make sure that they find you first. The reason to stay strong, or perhaps even increase your budgeting efforts, is two-fold. One, you are getting the most exposure time possible right now. And, two, in weeks when the COVID-19 era is over, you will beat out the competitors who tightened their belts and dropped their efforts.
Stopping your SEO efforts now could set you back for months or longer. For those companies who pull their efforts, it could be like starting over again. Now is NOT the time to disappear, it is the time to go at it harder than.
Reduce Fear… Panic is NOT Your Friend
Although it might seem that scare tactics help to motivate people to take action, too much fear makes people shut down. It is important to discuss COVID-19 and how it affects your services and industry, but don’t be a fear monger and present the worst-case scenario.
And, in the same respect, don’t panic yourself! As a small business, we understand how devastating and scary it is to see all of your hard work disappear almost overnight. But the key to staying in the game is not to give up. When panic rules, people begin to pull out and that only makes things worse.
Before you take any action with your marketing, take the time to breathe and think through things rationally. Just like any life-altering event, it is essential to take the time to mull over the entirety of a situation before decision-making. Especially in marketing, making knee jerk reactions can end up costing you a lot.
And the last thing you want to do is throw out all that you have accomplished, or to miss out on what could be one of the most lucrative opportunities possible because you fed into the pandemonium and made rash financial decisions.
The Importance of Local SEO Will be at an All-Time High
Now more than ever it is critical to focus your SEO marketing efforts locally by using things like Google my Business and Google Maps. People are wanting to stay as close to home as possible. And they are going to pick the first service they find within their area.
There are many ways to foster your local presence, which will cost you nothing. And now is the time to find out what they are and maximize them! Also, to catapult your business to the top spot and get noticed, pay per click ads might be the ticket.
You’ve got the Time – Use it!
Times have been very very good for many small businesses. Most of the companies that we deal with haven’t had time to really sit down and think about the wealth that digital marketing provides, or the steps they should take to beat the competition. Now, while you have time, use it to your advantage. Things like web design, PPC, content marketing, SEO and updating your web pages to make them more appealing are critical.
And they are something that might have fallen by the wayside! What we have found at Fu Dog is that half of the battle of helping our clients with a highly effective digital marketing plan is getting them to focus when so many other things are going on. You have the time to really analyze your digital marketing needs, make critical decisions, and devise a plan to come on strong both now and for the future. So put that time to good use! Make a useful list of the ways to engage potential and existing clients and check them off. Or, pull out that list that has been on the back burner and let’s get to work.
We are in the Same Boat – Let's Steer it Effectively!
At Fu Dog Media, we get it. We are all in the same boat, and understand that it can be very tempting to tighten your belt and make cuts to help your business survive. But making marketing knee jerk decisions based on fear and panic is never the smart way to go. Breathe deeply and think about the real facts: Coronavirus will only last for another couple of weeks to months. And what you are doing now will affect how well you will bounce back. It will also affect how well you fare against the competition who pulled back when they should have gone full speed ahead.
As hard as it is to keep your eyes forward-looking and your brain forward-thinking, it is the only way to weather this storm and to come out the other end not just surviving; but thriving.
Take the rational road and consider what steps you take now and how they will not only affect you tomorrow or next week; but months from now when life as we know it returns. You have the time to take advantage of some unprecedented good things in digital marketing if you think rationally and allow us to help! Set up a digital meeting with Fu Dog Media today to discuss the wisest steps to take for your long term success during such a tumultuous time.