Thinking about cutting back on your marketing budget during the current pandemic? Here’s an interesting fact: The now-famous cereal tagline “Snap, Crackle, and Pop!” was created by Kellogg during the Depression to boost sales. It not only led to a 30% increase in post-Depression sales but also helped position the brand as a leader for years to come.
It may be tempting to put marketing on the back burner, but before you do, consider how these small and cost-effective steps you take could ultimately keep your business on track during these difficult times.
Stay-at-home orders, brick-and-mortar business closures, local legislation that dictates “essential” businesses: all of these important measures that are keeping us safe are also driving customers online to stay connected and updated. If your doors are currently closed, the best and most cost-efficient way to reach out to your audience is through your business website.
If you do nothing else, make sure your website has the correct business contact information, operating hours, and any information that visitors need quick access to. Your site also needs to be mobile responsive because a good portion of your target demographic is using their smartphone or mobile devices to surf the internet. These two features alone will make your site look professional, build trust, and streamline your lead generation process.
These days websites are crucial for businesses, but if it’s something that’s just not in the budget, a Google My Business (GMB) page could become a lifeline. For customers that aren’t yet familiar with your brand, they’ll most likely search it on Google — a platform that boasts 3.5 billion searches daily. If and when your GMB info pops up in their results, you don’t want it to be inaccurate, outdated, or missing vital information searchers can use to make a purchase decision.
If you haven’t yet done so already take a few minutes right now to claim your free GMB page. (Here’s a great tutorial.) Take some time to fill out as much information as possible and carve out a few minutes every week to check your GMB profile and add a post, even if it’s a few sentences updating readers about any business changes. Because there’s no cost to optimize and maintain your GMB listing and your customers don’t have to pay to see it, businesses of all sizes can afford this important marketing tool.
Word-of-mouth is perhaps one of the oldest, most effective, and economical marketing tools out there, even if it looks a bit different in the digital age. “91% of consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 are big believers of online reviews, trusting them as much as personal recommendations.” Online reviews have long been the cornerstone of a comprehensive marketing strategy, and that’s not changing any time soon. Without in-person interactions to guide their buyer’s journey, customers will depend on these reviews to buy products and services sight unseen.
Weathering the crisis also means using the downturn to plan for post-pandemic life. As your business tries to find a new rhythm, online reviews are tried-and-true pieces of valuable content that can give you a competitive edge in a market that looks drastically different than it did a few years ago. Take some time now to reach out to customers and clients you’ve built relationships with and ask them to share their feedback. Don’t be shy in letting them know that this small favor can offer huge support.
Even before the crisis, social media was a crucial marketing channel for every business, but many weren’t putting resources into optimizing their profile and content. That’s now a non-negotiable. Staying at home means more time to spend on social media, and more chances to get eyes on your social media presence.
Like your GMB profile, information on your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles needs to be accurate and updated regularly. Watch the tone of your posts and provide valuable, educational content that provides invaluable resources for the challenges your customers are facing. Skip the auto-scheduled posts and find opportunities to engage with comments when you can. Building an online community around your business can lay the foundation for future growth.
Hiring an experienced marketing consultant means you’ll get a big-picture look at your total online presence. Getting fresh eyes on your strategy also means they’ll apply their expertise to identify where you should increase your budget and areas that don’t offer much of a return.
Business owners have no shortage of fires to put out and that’s amplified exponentially now during these unprecedented times. While it’s easy to think about cutting your marketing budget first over other costs, it could very well hurt your bottom line in the long run. If you’re not sure where to start or what to spend when it comes to increasing your efforts, you’ll need to call in the professionals.
The fact is that research shows advertising and marketing spend increase during an economic downturn is a smart business move. Simply put, reduced ad spending during the recession correlates with reduced revenue on the upswing. With the right approach and some help from marketing experts, increasing your efforts and budget in some areas could prove to be worth a serious return on investment.