Marketing your business in times of crisis

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Now might be the perfect time to try new things

Whether we’re ready for it or not, the world has permanently changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much for businesses, especially in regard to marketing. As business owners and marketers, it’s on us to adapt to changing times. We have to change the way we think and market. What worked yesterday may not work today. It’s time to be brave, try new marketing tactics and make sure we’re adapting our creativity.

Along with your standard marketing practices — a mobile-friendly website, an updated social media presence and a method to keep your customers informed of changes — here are some additional marketing tactics to implement or take advantage of immediately.

Email marketing
According to email marketing firm Campaign Monitor, email is more valuable than ever, returning $42 for every dollar spent. That’s $4 more than in 2018.

We’re not talking about obnoxious spam here, of course. We’re talking about making sure your business remains in the brains of your target audience through announcements of promotions, new products or services, or through a simple note that says, “We’re still here, and we miss you.” Email marketing can be one of the most effective tools you can use to drive sales or feet through the door. Tools such as MailChimp, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor make managing email lists and sending campaigns extraordinarily easy. Bonus benefit: email marketing is typically a low-cost endeavor.

It’s important to note that email marketing has some relatively strict guidelines, so make sure you follow the rules from the Federal Trade Commission, specifically the CAN-SPAM Act.

Google My Business
According to research from marketing firm BrightLocal, the average business sees almost 60 actions each month on its Google My Business listing.

It might be the silliest name for a platform, but it is by far one of the most important tools for businesses to utilize. Google My Business listings are special boxes that show alongside Google search results and contain your company’s reviews, address, phone number, hours, description, photos and such timely information as whether you offer curbside pickup or delivery.

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, drop everything and do so immediately. There are plenty of how-to videos online. The only requirement is that you have a physical address. When you’ve gone through the process of claiming your listing (which can take up to several weeks, in some cases), make sure to add as many details as you can to the “info” fields. Also, be sure to add photos of your business, even if you’re service oriented.

Pay-per-click ads
Pay-per-click advertising enables companies to show ads to internet searchers, social media users or people browsing partner websites. Pay-per-click ads can be a great way to attract the attention of searchers who may not be familiar with your business. Using online tutorials, setting up ads is exponentially easier than most people think. Some pay-per-click platforms are Google Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook.

Communication
The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. Chances are likely that your customers are wondering whether you’re open, are taking any extra precautions or are operating at full capacity. Communication right now is absolutely essential. If you have a blog or social media channels, update them regularly with any information that will help your customers use your services or make a purchase, whether online, over the phone or in person. More specifically, have a dedicated page and banner on your website — that you update regularly — with information related to COVID-19 as it pertains to your business.

Old-school brainstorming
It’s time for an all-hands-on-deck brainstorming session. But this time, instead of just pulling in C-levels or marketing managers, it’s time to ask everyone at your business for their ideas. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is ignoring ideas from employees. During this process, you might find hidden relevant talents. Perhaps there’s someone who likes to draw and can help create an ad, or maybe there’s someone with extensive experience managing LinkedIn.

Without giving away the agenda, call a company meeting. At the meeting, give everyone 15 minutes to come up with 10 creative ideas to help drive sales or improve brand awareness. There are no wrong answers here. Out of the mix of suggestions, you’re bound to get several new ideas and people willing to help implement them.

It’s hard to know what the future holds and what changes are here to stay. Be flexible, be open to creative adaptability, be brave enough to try new marketing tactics, and always track the efficacy of your efforts to make future decisions based on what works and what doesn’t.

Brooke McClary is the digital marketing and SEO lead at Sole Graphics, a boutique creative agency in Bellingham. Visit them at www.solegraphics.com.