I hope you are well and have avoided getting sick or in any way negatively impacted by Covid-19. I hope you are safely working from home, are able to practice social distancing, and can care for yourself, family, friends, and community.
As a small business owner, I am sure you are worried about the economy and how this disaster will affect your business. I sure am! I personally do not like feeling helpless, so I am going to give you all that I can to help you through this; which for me is the best communications advice out there. I have several links to articles on the ZGPR home page and the PR From A to Z Group PR Blog has several helpful business communications articles that are related to communicating through this crisis. Also, you can find a full listing of various resources under the Coronavirus Communications Business and Public Relations Resources link above.
Small and medium-sized businesses are grappling with the new reality set upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone has sent out their coronavirus sympathy emails, altered their business to reflect the emergency, and is waiting this out hoping we can soon return to the new normal. Revenues and sales are down, some businesses may have even had to close due to required shutdowns or shelter-in-place orders. Understanding that most small and medium-sized businesses will want to spend less and save money, how does a small business prepare, promote, and publicize during a recession?
I continue to tell anyone who will listen that now is NOT the time to cancel all of your marketing communications, but instead to lean into it as one possible way to keep afloat during this downturn. But I don’t want you to just listen to me! So, I asked some smart, experienced business owners what their advice would be and I am happy to share it with you below. Please let me know what questions you have and how I can help.
If you have questions there are a variety of ways to contact me. In the coming days, I will have articles on Spring Cleaning Your Social Media (something that is easy to do from home) and How to Promote in a Disaster-Focused Media World. You can read my Coronavirus Communications Business and Public Relations Resources for more crisis-focused pieces and there is great advice available in my previous post, Securing Your Brand During the COVID-19 Crisis. You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and I just opened my client slack group, so feel free to pop in for questions or discussions on any business-related issues or even if you just need to socialize. Until then, please enjoy my curated list of best advice for marketing during a recession.
Marketing & PR Tips for Small Business Owners to Navigate the Recession
Brianna Régine Walston, Brianna Régine Visionary Consulting, LLC
“Use content to show authority in your industry. While it appears the top digital marketing suggestion is to “create more content,” what people should be saying is share your process. Consumers want to know the behind the scenes of their favorite shops or how to make as well as sell their own e-book because they want to feel connected to a brand before they make a purchase. There’s free value in your process that will incentivize consumers to become loyal customers. Use Public Relations to pitch how you’re navigating the crisis to local media. Local media want to share human stories that can inspire and/or inform readers via real experiences from individuals in their neighborhood. How is your business pivoting in light of the crisis? Are you collaborating with a charity? What new initiatives or redefined values will your business initiate post-pandemic? Contact your local newspaper and broadcast platforms and share your experiences with one clear angle and why you think the local audience should know your story.”
James Chittenden, OneClickAdvisor
“First, don’t stop marketing. Why? You need to show strength in a recession – grab market share while competitors are risk-averse. Your goal is to keep your existing customers and you can and should promote your way out of the problem. During the 1990-1991 recession, McDonald’s made the decision to stop advertising. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell did the opposite. The results were increases in sales of 61 percent and 41 percent for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell respectively, while McDonald’s sales declined by 28 percent.”
Alesha Brown, Fruition Publishing Concierge Services
“Many small businesses are decreasing their marketing at this time which is a BIG mistake. You need to be present now more than ever. Make sure that you are offering the solution that your business provides while seeking your audience’s attention. Be clear and conversational, while showing them a sense of urgency to be intentional with their plans, visions and goals. One suggestion is to use Canva (including its social media video tools,) Hootsuite, Buffer or similar software programs to create marketing pieces that are engaging for free. Now is the time to keep the faith and stay present.”
Tammy Dowley-Blackman, Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group
“Check-in calls in the immediate wake of the Covid-19 crisis with current and former clients led me to understand the two tools that would be incredibly helpful in preparing, promoting and publicizing my business. First, I have begun the #What’sYourLeadership campaign, using interviews with national leaders and partners on topics as varied as ‘How to maintain momentum and focus on diversity, equity and inclusion goals during the Covid-19 crisis,’ ‘Supporting young leaders who have not been through an economic crisis with professional tools,’ and ‘How leaders of color are finding support during the Covid-19 crisis.’ I am helping other businesses, institutions and organizations prepare, promote and publicize their businesses, offering weekly executive leadership coaching office hours. This helps connect those on the Zoom call with local and national resources, creates a network to encourage potential collaborations, and provides general thought leadership as they create tools and solutions for how to manage post-crisis.”
Anne Szustek Talbot, BX3
“I developed my skills in this arena back in the day when I wrote a positive business/financial news column for the news startup where I worked back during the late-2000s recession. I understand how small businesses might have crises of confidence during this time and it is important to remember that regardless of circumstances, there are green shoots to be had. Our social channels, while unbiased, look to profile positive developments in the economy, helpful tips for small business, and bright spots in the startup industries that we serve. Small businesses need to find and embrace the unique voice they lend to the marketplace. Typically, the reason a startup launches is because there was an under-targeted niche in the market. Creating specific content to reach this audience will speak to your base and help your voice get heard through the digital conversation. Publishing content suggesting how ‘we’re all in this together’ is all well and good, but taking that platitude a step further and offering some service will show that your SMB can put its money where its mouth is. Here’s some examples of what we’ve done at BX3 over the past few weeks: On our LinkedIn page we included a link to a legal document for small businesses that helps outline telework requirements. This is free distribution of our intellectual property. We put together a compendium of these sources and outlets to include on both our website and in an e-mail newsletter. On our column for ValueWalk, we’ve featured our clients and our own insights into COVID-19-relatedmatters from an asset management perspective, as pertinent to the interests of that publication’s readership.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
“I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 19 years ago in Cambridge, MA. As a small business we are always pivoting to respond to market changes. The biggest change for me, my team, and my clients from the virus so far is the shutdown of all networking events, travel and conferences. Spring is typically a very busy time with many events, trade shows, business meetings on the road, etc. And for the past month everyone is staying put and meeting virtually instead. First and foremost I have learned to help small businesses to be flexible and open minded so we can keep working together during the crisis and create more flexible capacity going forward over the next year as the economy reopens. If small groups on the team want to talk through specific issues (managing anxiety, kids, parents, etc.) virtual coffee meetings online have been helpful too. A few colleagues have even met online after work for virtual happy hour/beer/cocktails as well when they had more time to chat. It is starting to feel like the new normal by leveraging technology to build and maintain my relationships. We have learned that finding routines and things we can control helps, I think. Communication is key to all of our community, customer and employee engagement. As far as messaging goes, between the pandemic and the possible recession, leaders and brands have an opportunity to further connect with anxious consumers and focus on the true relevance of their products or services. We have learned to acknowledge that now things are different so we need to communicate in a way that will give our audiences better focus, helping them to create a bridge from today to the future. We need to communicate in a way that combines information and need, synthesizing feeling and facts. I feel we have a tremendous responsibility because never before has communications had the power to help society in the way that it does right now. Words are part of the healing process and we can see which leaders and brands are doing the best job every day with messages that touch not only the mind, but also the heart and soul. There has never been a more important time to provide accurate, empathetic communication with transparency, truthfulness and timeliness. It is inappropriate now for content to appear tone deaf in any way to this crisis.”
Kenzi Wood, Kenzi Writes
“80% of people say they’re consuming more content in self-isolation. So yes, brands need to make content, but not just any content. I recommend SMBs embrace video content over blogs right now. More people are streaming right now and fewer people have the attention to dig through a 1,500-word blog. If you’re in the B2B space, LinkedIn video is where it’s at, but keep it under 2 minutes. Instagram Stories and TikTok are still a good bet for B2C. I’ve used a handful of affordable tools to make video content for my own business. WonderShare Filmora is an affordable option for $80 (one-time) or so to edit your videos. It also includes templates and music, which I love. Promo.com is offering 5 free videos to small businesses right now; it’s a good source for B-roll footage. If you want to show your webcam or computer screen, I use Vidyard’s free Chrome extension and it works like a dream.”
Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovation
“The temptation is to ‘put on a brave face’ or twist the truth as a politician would. Saying things like “we expect a V-shaped recovery”, or “we’ll be back to normal in two months” will come across as fake or even clueless. Other knee jerk reactions such as deep discounting, publicity stunts or bizarre pivots are likely to do more harm than good. The best thing to do is attempt to be honest and truthful about the position we’re in. That is likely to be mostly based on sector and location. We currently face hard facts and truths, and no spin, hype or false confidence will change that. Our customers and peers will quickly see if we make disingenuous moves or statements. There’ll be some tremendous opportunities in some areas, and in other situations, losses should be cut relatively quickly. Failing startups or businesses that were marginally profitable should perhaps wind up now, and better opportunities can get found. If you can find a right pivot, niche or way forward through this crisis, it will be evident that it’ll work. In that case, it makes sense to go all-in and get ahead of your competition.”
Bob Bentz, Purplegator
“The best marketing to do in a down economy, or a pandemic, is pay per click advertising. Consumers that are doing a search for a product or service at this time are usually not in the discovery phase. More often than not, they are ready to buy NOW. That makes them a very valuable target in a down economy such as we are currently experiencing. If your business is retail, and you are closed now, it may make sense to stop your mobile and digital display advertising and re-focus those marketing dollars into pay per click search engine marketing.”
David Walter, Electrician Mentor
“Now would be a great time to add a new website to your marketing portfolio. Since you’re probably already on Facebook and Twitter, you might want to give Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or even YouTube a try. Remember, most of these platforms are free to start, so all you need is an investment of your time, and if things have been slow at your business because of the virus, this would be a great time to make better use of your workday. Just be sure to track your results to see what’s working and what isn’t so you know how to intelligently move forward. Then, think about your local marketing efforts. If you have a physical business, maybe you print up a flyer for a discount for new customer referrals, talk about upcoming sales or even offer a freebie for new customers. Remember, you need to take advantage of word of mouth marketing, which is companion to local marketing. Make the best of this and see what you can do to promote your business to a new audience.”
Morgan Taylor, LetMeBank
“You need to pitch your audience with lower entry products during a recession. When the economy is unfavorable people are more inclined to buy a cheaper option, though after the initial sale this is no longer the case. Upsells still work just as well as ever, you just have a lower price point to overcome objections on the initial purchase. During a recession you need a customer list more than ever. Attracting new customers is definitely going to be slower, but most people don’t maximize the profitability of the customers they already have. Build a customer list, work on keeping your customers loyal, and offer discounts for returning customers that stay on your email list.”
Jeff Moriarty, Moriarty’s Gem Art
“Because we have closed the doors to our brick and mortar location, we had to move our focus to online. And we wanted to not only promote online differently, but offer education and learning as well. One area we have been very successful with is live steam shows on YouTube where we showcase our newest items, answer questions from our customers, and allow them purchase online for at home delivery. This is something we would never have thought about doing before, but it has been very, very successful. While it isn’t covering all of our lost revenue, it is helping us pay our associates and most important bills during this crisis. And this is something we set up with a couple iPhones and YouTube Studio, so any small business can do it.”
Manny Hernandez, Wealth Growth Wisdom
“During a recession, consumers will be poorer or feel poorer at the least. They will be more frugal and cautious in their expenditures. Reassuring the consumer, holding her hand in a ‘we’re going to get through this together’ manner is a vital ingredient of successful marketing during a recession. And my recommended tip is the Adjust Pricing Tactics. Customers will be shopping around for the best deals. You do not necessarily have to cut prices but you may need to offer more temporary price promotions, reduce thresholds for quantity discounts, extend credit to long-standing customers and price smaller pack sizes more aggressively. In tough times, price cuts attract more consumer support than promotions such as sweepstakes and mail-in offers.”
Celeste Huffman, Rogers and Hollands Marketing
“Since the pandemic started, we wanted to push more content and educational based emails and social posts to our customers. This content was created based on a few things we were seeing in our industry. And this research any small business can do for free. The first thing we did was to use Google Trends. This is a free tool that allows you to see trends in searches within the last day, last 7 days, 30 days or longer. We found so many new great ideas for content here. The other way we found great ideas for content was through our own internal search function of our website. The types of search and what people were searching for changed in some ways during the pandemic which gave us awesome ideas on what to market and what to write about. Implementing both these strategies for our content has allowed us to keep engaging with our customers without only trying to sell them on things.”
Lorrie Thomas Ross, Web Marketing Therapy®
“Small and medium sized businesses who successfully market through the recession are the ones who stop selling their products and services and start being more sensitive – communicating solutions. The solution is not more content, it’s retraining your brain to shift to giving. You do this via educational-centric marketing (we call it markeding to advocate the mashup of marketing and education). Educate your clients, prospective clients and followers as a way to inspire leadership and ethical marketing. The most successful companies know that in good times AND in bad times, they can’t ever stop marketing. They also know that they need to be sensitive to the times. The true meaning of marketing is maximizing exchanges, which boils down to RELATIONSHIPS. Be super sensitive and solution-specific with communications – emails, social media posts, ads and more. For some companies, this might mean minimizing messages to give their audience space. You are paid equally to how much you are willing to think. Marketers, this is the time to be a human BEing, not a human DOing!“
Valerie Martin, Founder/Owner Alpha Agency
“I’m NOT going to say “create more content!” Content for the sake of content in the midst of global upheaval is completely tone-deaf. Stop all normal messaging. Prioritize internal and stakeholder communication until you have a survival plan in place. Don’t just talk and post and create – LISTEN to what your team, your biggest customers, your partners and your stakeholders have to say. They likely have great ideas, insights and stories for you if you take a minute to listen. Find the good stories. Be a part of them. Share THAT. People want to buy from and work for the survivors and the innovators. Build your internal and external post-C19 communications strategy around that reality. Targeted earned media is the biggest ROI on a shoestring marketing/PR budget. Find someone who can actually pitch a few great, authentic stories about your business (e.g. how are you pivoting, helping employees, helping the community, exploring new demand, highlight a great employee or story of leadership during these challenging times) and leverage the heck out of them across your networks. They build momentum, visibility, morale and help organizations find their voice during times of change.”
Fabiana Meléndez, Zilker Media
“Social media marketing is great, but it is currently full of posts from brands seeking to catch the attention of consumers and prove that they are helpful. In order to cut through the noise, focus on authority by association by pitching yourself to smaller, trade podcasts and magazines. However, only do this if you have valuable information and resources to share with that audience. When you appear in any sort of media such as a podcast or trade magazine, you get access to their loyal audience. Landing an interview, especially in niche media platforms, allows you to place your expertise around people who already trust and invest their time reading that magazine or listening to that podcast. This is an especially good strategy during a crisis because your clients and even future leads are already keeping up with the news and trends as the breaking news around a crisis develops which in turn allows you to really share. This also works for the small business (solopreneur, sole proprietor or small company that does not have an agency or inhouse marketing team.) Even if funds may be tight, we have more time than ever. Focus on the aspects of marketing that are generating worthwhile returns — whether that be allocating more time to build meaningful content on Instagram instead of Facebook because Instagram offers better engagement. Or spending an hour a day sifting through Twitter and interacting in a genuine way with journalists who could be great pitching leads in the future.”
Rhea Henry, EnergyRates
“Put an aggressive focus on your marketing strategy, during this down-time. Whatever strategy you choose, should encompass the following to varying degrees: 1) The empathy you have for your fellow associates, countrymen, colleagues and whoever else you’re targeting — you’re not the only one going through a rough time right now. 2) What your business will look like during this downturn. 3) How you will be there for them during this time. The first point softens the point that the content is marketing content. Now is not the time when people want to be sold something. At the very least, you have to let them know that you’re understanding of what they’re going through, and just be a voice in their mind for the future when this is also over. The second point, allows your readers to know how they can support your business during this time. It also gives them information on any safety measures you’re taking to ameliorate the effects of a downturn, or protect your workers, etc. The final point is the most important. It’s the pivot you’ll make to convert readers into business leads. Frame your services as what you can do for them. That is, after all, the essence of marketing.”
Eric Elkins, WideFoc.us Social Media
“My company is offering free 15-minute Q&As on Tuesdays and Thursdays for small business owners who may not have the budget to hire an agency like ours, but still have a few quick questions. We’re trying to do our part to support small businesses who have to manage social on their own!”
Amber Brooks, The Brandividual
“As a brand and marketing consultant who’s served businesses and organizations of every size, I’ve had quite a bit of experience helping find relevant and effective marketing practices that work. One thing that is 100% free, but gets the highest return is focusing on relationships. Tactics, tools, and persuasion techniques can get you sales sometimes. But to garner true lifelong brand fans – the ones that will invest now and remember you when anyone they know needs the solution you offer – you have to help people feel connected and supported. Finding ways to build in relationship building at every single touchpoint is the best way for businesses to continue to grow, even during times like this.”
Shiv Gupta, Incrementors Web Solutions
“My advice is to start creating tutorials – whether you are a chef, digital marketer or a plumber, being at home you can invest your time and energy in making tutorials and sell them on website like Udemy, Edx, Udacity or publish them on your website/YouTube for branding. There is always scope to make some information or Do it Yourself type videos for your target audience. Additionally, now is a great time to start contributing in forums of your niche market as right now you have time to invest and this will simply enhance your followers and you can get some good contacts whom you can sell when the right time comes.”
Laura M. Cummins, Nine Dotz Consulting
“Here are some suggestions for marketing during a recession. Remember that we are all in this together. This is the time to partner with complementary small businesses to help build community and restore the economy—especially on a local level. For example, a farmers market could partner with a local winery to talk about sweet and savory food pairings to wines presently available. These businesses could create videos that educate and highlight products that are available for purchase. These videos could be posted to social media, website, blog, email marketing, etc. Heck, press releases should also be composed. Now to make this level of marketing possible, these businesses would need to setup online stores. Whether they ship or offer curbside pickup, they want to make purchasing these items as seamless as possible. Yes, this is the time for small businesses to convert some of its inventory to an online store. Start with featured items and continue to add-on new products to make the process manageable. It would also make sense for these businesses to sell one another’s products in-store as well. Talk about covering all bases! Now….take it a step further…get the customers involved and have them create videos or take photos of them duplicating the experience at home. This is where social media can be used to build brand awareness and increase traffic to online stores and eventually in-store.”
Nazim Ragimov, Kukarella
“More people are spending time online now. The number of visitors to our text to speech converter Kukarella has doubled over the past three weeks. Therefore, business owners should use this time to start talking to their customers more frequently, to find out what they expect from your product, what problems it helps them solve.”
Vinay Amin, Eu Natural
“A someone who weathered the 2008 Great Recession as a digital marketer, here’s my top two tips for recession-time marketing: First, focus on social media for engagement, audience building, even lead generation. It’s cheap, it’s available, and there are many more platforms now to choose from. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding at least one channel that fits your biz. Second, don’t be afraid to take a chance on something new or different. Risk may seem unwise in uncertain times, but you never know until you try, and you may just find that the new kid’s idea, or the thing you read about in that biz mag article is just THE thing for your company. Low-cost risks may pay off big in the long run. If they don’t, at least you know what won’t work in the future.”
Mike Falahee, Marygrove Awning Co.
“A great way to promote yourself is by doing something positive. Recently we hosted a blood drive, partnering with Red Cross to help combat blood shortages amidst the pandemic. A lot of people need blood and with a lot of focus on the coronavirus, some people are becoming seriously unwell and some have lost their lives because they don’t get as much attention. We wanted to bring a positive out of this situation, we wanted other people to help out too so we all feel like we’ve done something.”
Bunny Young, A Better Place Consulting
“Rather than thinking about it as marketing think about it as serving the community that you are connected with. Bring a message of value and serving other businesses to help them stay in business rather than trying to sell them something. In other words, companies need services and products in order to stay in business so be one of those solutions. Another option is to ask your community what questions or concerns they have. Then bring in subject matter experts that can provide information around those concerns and provide solid value so that your company is constantly in front of your clients even if they do not have the money to spend with your company at this time. You will be front of mind.”
Rebecca Graham, Best Company
“My top tip for B2B marketing or promoting during the pandemic is to give more voice to your customers. Focusing on customer reviews is the best way to demonstrate how you are already contributing value. We can all agree that now is not the time to use “salesy” language, but that doesn’t mean your target market isn’t interested in adding value at this time — especially if your product or service is helping keep companies afloat. If you’re not doing this already, respond to reviews. You don’t need to fear poor reviews as they are an opportunity to show your commitment to customer care. As content manager for Best Company, a consumer review and resource site, I have seen how reviews both reflect and impact overall trust in a company. Sharing a standalone review on social media can provide anecdotal evidence of your company’s value. Better yet, when your company attracts reviews in large quantities, individual anecdotal experiences combine to produce meaningful data to present to prospective clients. (It’s important to note that not all review sites are created equal. Best Company commits to never participate in “pay to play” like some other sites do, where companies can pay to land a top spot.) On each company profile on our site readers can view reviews based on the company’s overall rating as well as the rating in each of our sentiment criteria: value for your money, product or service quality, customer service, and trustworthiness.”
Eagan Heath, Get Found Madison
“I recently recorded a video about Marketing in Uncertain Times where I posit that if a small business is in an okay cash position, they should focus on creating free value right now to grow their email lists and audiences through webinars, training courses and lead magnets. If they are cash-strapped, then it’s crucial to get creative about pivoting to some offering they can sell online, whether e-courses, coaching or ecommerce product sales.”
Allison Chaney, Boot Camp Digital
“Now is the perfect time for businesses to do one of the main things we always hear them say they don’t have time for: marketing. Businesses who use this time to efficiently plan, will set themselves up for long term success. A lot of businesses don’t know where to start, and with limited resources, the options become even more of a challenge. I recommend taking advantage of free trials of online courses. Within a few days, you can learn the foundations of digital marketing and how to build a plan that actually works.”
Connie Ramos-Williams, CONRIC PR & Marketing
“To help small businesses and nonprofits stay relevant, our agency has been working around the clock to create virtual events, meetings and webinars that keep communication channels open internally with staff that are working remotely and externally with customers and stakeholders who are under stay at home orders. For our smaller restaurant clients, our agency suggests offering affordable family meal packages that can be picked up curbside or delivered and promoting these specials to loyal customers in eblasts, across social media and in Facebook groups. Our agency launched the SWFL Strong Facebook Group and invited businesses to take part in our daily “Business Roll Call” to give members in the community a shout out if they are open for business, share hours of operation and any special offers. Our community has embraced the platform, which had an audience reach of more than 18,000 in just the first two weeks and caused the hashtag #SWFLStrong to really take off.”
Robert Barrows, Barrows Advertising & Public Relations
“When everything in your business changes so dramatically and so quickly, the best way to adjust your marketing and advertising planning is with some very easy-to-use advertising math called “The Barrows Popularity Factor.” The math will give you more of the information you need to make key marketing decisions with far less risk, says Barrows, and it can help all kinds of businesses make a lot more money in good times and in bad. Plus, the math is universal and effective, and it is also extremely easy to use. All of the calculations can be done by one person, in moments, with just a simple calculator, and the math can help you increase your sales, increase your profit and decrease your risk, says Barrows…and anyone who spends any money on any advertising, anywhere, should take a look at this math and start using this math immediately, especially if their business is being disrupted by the Coronavirus. The Barrows Popularity Factor reduces the relationship between advertising and sales to its lowest possible common denominator…Once you can quantify your rate of return on gross impressions, then you can start using some additional math to help you determine the best way to spend your advertising budget. The math can help you fine-tune your entire marketing program to help produce much higher sales and profit, so whether we are in danger of experiencing a sudden downturn, and whether we are also in danger of slipping into another recession, or if you are in a business that will actually be able to take advantage of a downturn, this math could help your company make a lot more money with a lot less risk.”
Heather Farris, Pinterest Marketing Consultant
“I’m Heather Farris & I’m a Pinterest Marketing Expert. I help small businesses to market their products & information on Pinterest. I wholeheartedly feel that many small businesses including local businesses are missing out on the opportunity to use Pinterest to drive traffic & sales. Pinterest reaches 83% of households with an age range of 25-54 and within that same group 80% of them are household decision makers. They have been dubbed The Decider’s and they are who those small businesses want to reach. Now more than ever with those decision makers stuck at home with kids they are shopping on Pinterest & this is a fairly affordable way for small businesses to market during recession.”
Eric Yaverbaum, Ericho Communications
“One tip is to gain a deep understanding of your customer’s needs during a recession or crisis. Understanding the general psychology of your target audience is critical to aligning your messaging with their needs. Do a deep dive into the motivations and behaviors of your customers during a crisis, such as their spending habits, what your product or service is (i.e. is it considered an essential service like food, water or an expendable service like beauty treatments or luxury goods) and the likelihood of your target audience to contract, grow or stay the same in a crisis. Complete interviews with loyal customers, disseminate surveys and questionnaires to really understand what your customers are looking for then tailor your marketing response to that. Another tip is to focus on existing customers. The very nature of this crisis keeps us from reaching new people so honing in on existing customers is a great way to keep your business top of mind during this time. Find out what your customer’s needs are, through surveys and other research, and offer solutions your business can provide to these needs. You may not be able to provide the goods and services you usually do, in your usual manner, but showing customers that you’re flexible and committed to working with the mat a time like this will promote a few sales and good will.”
Sashreka Pillay, Take Us Digital
“Businesses should audit their overall digital marketing capabilities (social media, website, email campaigns etc.). They need a baseline and roadmap for an integrated strategy which can save them time and energy later. Take Us Digital is offering this service at a 35% discount in solidarity of the COVID-19 crisis. It comes with an easy to implement list of actions which businesses can implement on their own or with a marketer. Intentionally create and test a sales funnel. This comes back to the integrated strategy: no matter what social platform you’re on, ensure you know how to identify and nurture warm leads. You could be losing valuable opportunities if you don’t.”
Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com
“My suggestion for marketing or promoting a business in a recession is to take an approach you know will work specifically to increase awareness and sales of your services and offerings. For example, a hair salon might mix up colors for clients, provide a pick-up service at their storefront for orders, and create DIY videos showing a step-by-step tutorial for how they can touch up their roots from home. Larger companies may start a podcast to reach their audience. As a marketing tool, a podcast reaches many ears (and subscribers) all at once and has the ability to communicate what is coming next for the business as well as interview experts and provide advice to listeners. You may also start a Patreon that allows subscribers to receive exclusive new episodes if they pay a little bit of money or include relevant ads to like-minded businesses offering deals in the podcast for an extra stream of revenue.”
Cass Bailey, Slice Communications
“Due to the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic, trade shows, conferences, networking events, industry summits, etc. have been postponed. While safety is everyone’s top priority, this also poses a big problem for companies who rely on those events to meet with customers, strategic partners, distributors, and potential customers. Deals get done, products get demoed, product announcements get made, and new connections are formed and many sales and marketing teams depend on those events to fuel much of their sales efforts for the rest of the year. However, there are creative ways to connect with people even as you practice social distancing. Here are some of the best:
- Reach out to your most important contacts and ask them to “meet” you for a coffee meeting or drink. Send them a martini kit, bottle of wine, or other bottle of alcohol in the mail (if the state allows it or get their favorite Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks order delivered.
- Host a virtual “booth” on social media; think of it like an AMA (Ask Me Anything)! Promote the time, details, and platform of your live chat (we recommend Twitter) and encourage discussion and incentivize participation by raffling off a product to those who use your hashtag during the event.””
- Start a social media introduction challenge! We see these challenges all over Facebook, but we can also use them on LinkedIn to make new connections. Challenge your followers to comment and tag a new connection you may not know yet, then offer to return the favor to anyone who participates.”
Joshua Kail, Press Pass LA
“When it comes to Covid, the recession, and everything that it entails, it’s important for small and midsize businesses remember this is an old stumbling block in a new scenario. Recessions have happened before; global crisis have happened before and business survive. It is also important to be mindful of the uniqueness of the pandemic. There is no magical spell or special sauce when it comes to PR in the days of Covid, what you have to work with is way more effective, you know you customer base, you know your particular business’s expertise, and you are suffering on a personal level like the rest of us. When you communicate to your external audiences be human, be the expert you are, and focus on what your customer or potential customer is going to care most about. Be a resource that they need, be it for direct product information and access, or simply as a source of hope, escape, or inspiration. “”More Content”” is TERRIBLE advice. ALWAYS. The only reason a PR person tells you more is more, is because they are trying to sell you services for them to create more. SMART Content is the litmus test you should be using. Ask yourself:
- Does my audience want or need this content?
- Does this content forward my core messaging goals?
- Is this content appropriate in tone and breadth for how people are feeling?”
Steve Markman, Markman Speaker Management
“To publicize your small or medium sized business especially if you are a professional services practitioner, and especially during this new era of virtual meetings you should look to create your own virtual presentations, webinars and workshops. You should also seek out virtual meetings run by other organizations such as associations and other business groups. These speaking opportunities allow you to demonstrate your expertise in a “non-selling” atmosphere to prospective clients and customers.”
Andrea Travillian, Aspirify
“Here are a couple tips that I recommend:
- Before you market anything, make sure you are promoting things that people want to buy in a recession. When a recession hits, people’s spending habits change. If what you are selling is not at the top of people’s priorities, see if you can modify it to what people need.
- Play to your strengths of being small. Being a solopreneur allows for you to be more personal and detailed in your communication. Especially if you are pitching to media outlets. Make your responses to the media outlets highly customized and you will get more results. Because you are doing your own marketing, your responses won’t be “canned” like they are coming from an agency.
- I actually don’t recommend creating more content just for the sake of having content. What I do recommend on the content front is taking the time to re-evaluate existing pieces. You can often get more results by improving blog posts, than by creating entirely new one. It’s not the quantity of content you have, but the quality.”
Justin Stephens, Prospecting Done For You
“Acknowledge the new reality – humor is the best way to break the ice and then move on. Many of us have kids needing attention as we’re working at home or we’re juggling to look professional while working from the corner of the dining room table. If something happens, make light of it to show that we’re all in the same boat. Give them the gift of a virtual coffee – Can’t meet up in person? Send them a gift certificate from Starbucks along with a note like ‘I hope you’re as sick of staying in quarantine as I am and are open to meeting someone new.’ While we can’t meet face-to-face, I’d love to have a virtual coffee with you, my treat. Here’s my scheduler for when we can set it up. Reach out more than three times- Consistency with the follow up is the key to winning clients. Most reach out 3 – 7 times before considering a lead dead. On average, it takes 15 touch points before they say yes. Meet them where they’re at – Some people love reading articles – if that’s the case of your prospect, send them an article with a note saying why you thought they’d find it of interest. Some folks like podcasts- if so, send them a link to an episode you enjoyed. If you can share an article or podcast you were in, even better. In short, if your ideal client is on LinkedIn or Facebook, that’s where you’ll need to reach out to them. Always be reaching out – If you want one deal, you’ll need to reach out to 50 or 100 people. Not everyone is going to be a good fit. Up to you to find the right fit, just like Cinderella’s shoe.”
While running a business is never a fairytale, this great advice will surely help you to stay afloat and stay motivated as we work through this recession.
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