You may have heard it before: In times of crisis, the marketing budget is the first thing businesses cut. And why not? It’s one of the easiest ways to free up some cash. In fact, when business is slow, there are basically two things a company can do to improve cash flow:
- - Get more sales
- - Cut costs
You don’t always have control over more sales, but you do have control over your costs - and here’s where many businesses make a critical error, by choosing costs instead of sales. As marketers fear waking up each day during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s up to us to find unique ways to keep businesses open and justify our existence. After all, if the NBA is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars by shutting down, what chance do small businesses have?
The truth is, there’s always opportunity. When one industry struggles, another one thrives. Can’t go to a nice sit-down restaurant? No, but I can order a pizza. Grocery stores are certainly exceeding their annual expectations. Bookstores are closed but Amazon is open for business. Movie theaters are shut down, but now might be the time that moviegoer finally decides to sign up for Netflix. Speaking of movie theaters, Universal Studios just announced they are making some of their new movies available on-demand during Coronavirus Outbreak. For Universal, it won’t be a total loss. In fact, some movies may even do better on-demand.
But not every company is Universal Studios, with segmented product offerings and millions in the bank to cover their losses. What about YOUR business? People may be temporarily spending less now, but that won’t last. Businesses still need services, and consumers still want things.
Why You Shouldn’t Cut Your Marketing Budget
Unless you are working with endless amounts of capital, you can almost never cut your costs to profitably. Cutting costs is a good way to stay stationary, but if you want to increase profitability, you need to increase sales - and that’s where marketing helps.
Brand awareness can take time, and if you aren’t getting the word out, someone else is. You don’t have to spend millions, but you definitely shouldn’t be spending $0. People want to work with brands they trust, and marketing helps build that trust. I don’t mean throw money at everything, but smart, targeted spending can help to maximize your company’s image while creating real ROI. As the ASI points out:
“It seems like common sense, if you advertise when everyone else stops marketing…
1.) Your message is more likely to be noticed due to fewer ads in the market
2.) Your business is more likely to be remembered when everyone starts advertising again”
In addition, if you have been advertising and suddenly stop, you will start to lose some share-of-mind and miss out on future sales. So with that in mind, here are some marketing-related items to invest in during this time:
Marketing Game Plan
Perhaps first of all, if you don’t already have a strategic marketing plan, now might be the time to create one. Start by creating a SWOT analysis.
Adjust Your Marketing Course
There may be less people out in public, but there’s almost certainly more people online. You don’t have to spend $5,000/month on Facebook ads, but even $300 will get your message in front of people who may not know about your services. While you’re at it, now may be a good time to adjust your marketing message. Is there a call-to-action? What separates you from the competition? Try creating two different types of ads, split the budget between the two and run them simultaneously. Then, review the analytics to see which one worked best and most importantly, WHY it worked best. The same goes with print advertising. People are home, reading the news and looking for information. If you have been consistently advertising, you don't need to stop, you may just need to adjust your message. Brands have the opportunity to project the image of stability to consumers during tough times.
Build Up Your Marketing Arsenal
Have you been meaning to write some blogs? Maybe there’s been a dead page on your website forever that needs deleting. Here’s an idea: record some videos in your home office. You can shoot 6 videos at the same time and only publish them once a month, thereby giving you half a year’s worth of new content. Just a reminder: we’re not all Wes Anderson, so don’t forget to ask for help from a professional if needed. To start, here’s a helpful resource with 12 Tips for Making Your Videos Look More Professional.
Focus On Your 1,000 True Fans
You can’t market to everyone. And actually, you shouldn’t be marketing to everyone. Some people will want your product or service and others will not. If your business is experiencing some difficult times, try focusing on 1,000 True Fans. As author Kevin Kelly points out:
“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.
A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.” - Kevin Kelly
You can read the full article HERE. This method isn’t for everyone, but narrowing your audience is a good way to find out what’s really important in your messaging. If you can make 1,000 people really admire your brand, your message will spread…just maybe not as fast as some viruses do.
This article originally appeared here.