In short, yes. No matter what type of business you have, you can’t afford not to continue marketing even while there’s social distancing and widespread quarantine.
The world may be hitting pause on life as usual to wisely curb the rise in coronavirus cases and prevent a much more catastrophic meltdown, but as business owners this presents a slew of questions we’re all trying to answer for ourselves. Especially when slowing down can have dramatic consequences to our livelihood.
When it comes to marketing your small business during a virus outbreak, or any type of global or national crisis, a well-intentioned pause can be damaging long-term. Here’s how to think about business marketing during COVID-19.
Marketing is a long game that doesn’t work well with inconsistencies and interruptions.
The point of marketing is to bring a would-be customer all the way through a strategic journey. This takes time. A buyer or customer spends time making purchase decisions and requires regular messaging from you to continue getting closer to your offer. If you drop off their radar or do not consistently encourage them a little closer to your business and a purchase decision, you are sabotaging your marketing’s effectiveness.
In fact, many marketing methods only perform their best when consistent. Google and Facebook ads learn how to best target over time. Interruptions make it hard for these to perform at their best. Social media algorithms do not like on-again, off-again users. SEO tactics like blogging take at least 30 days to affect ranking which means you could start back up later only to have to wait a month or more to see your new content reap results.
Marketing is not a “right now” tool, it’s a business strategy meant to produce sales at some point later. Ceasing to market right now will only slow sales later when you are really counting on them.
If you stop marketing right now because you’re afraid everyone is too distracted by the upheaval and then go back to marketing as usual when things calm down, you risk having to start the buyer journey all over again which will only prolong the rebound of your business sales. You may even jolt your followers with a sudden return where they’re asking “wait, who is this again?”
In other words, you need to maintain a presence with your followers. Sure, your tone and message may need to be extra sensitive but hiding your business, waiting for things to pass is not the best setup for future business success. If you feel weird pushing sales (you shouldn’t if you think your product brightens someone’s day, but I digress) this may be an ideal time to lean into other types of marketing or ways of checking in with your audiences that you don’t usually do.
How can your business shine during a crisis?
A crisis is a time to show your humanity, your vulnerability and your personal side. Let this be an opportunity to flex a different side of your entrepreneurial strengths and business strengths. Show how you’re pivoting your offers, supporting other business or community organizations or dealing with a new daily norm. Being personal with your audience is always a good marketing approach and if you’re usually shy about getting your face on camera or addressing personal challenges, this is a perfect time to practice and push yourself.
People will still need things, and will still have to buy products and services.
Just because an entire population is staying home more doesn’t mean needs and wants won’t exist. People will still need to buy things. The season of coronavirus merely means altering your services so you can meet them where they are. It also means marketing will be far more digital. Screentime is skyrocketing and if you don’t secure your place in a follower’s feed, inbox or searches, it simply means your competition has the upper hand.
Do not let temporary circumstances confuse your long-term goals.
How do you want business to look in 3 months? In 6 months? In a year? You need to stay prepared for a return to normalcy which means not letting a temporary change effect your mindset too much. If you shift too dramatically in response to a crisis, you may be inadvertently creating a gap that’s hard to come back from later.
I’d love to know what you’re doing about your business marketing right now. Have you changed much about your approach?