First off, most importantly, if you’re reading this, hope you and your family are safe and well during these times. These events have been a lot to comprehend. I personally have not seen anything like this in my lifetime. Regardless of your situation, it’s important to follow protocols outlined by the CDC in order to prevent the spread of the disease and protect overall health.
As far as advertising goes, here my thoughts and tips on what businesses should do during a time of crisis. This is based on what we’ve seen so far across our accounts, and throughout history. I’m also going to talk about a relevant case study which involved a major economic downturn.
Adapting To Your Customer’s Needs
Adapting to the environment is going to be paramount to the survival of your business. My team and I have been implementing banner messages across client websites informing potential clients of necessary adaptations in order to suit their needs.
For example, one of our companies main services involves digital marketing for law firms. Since our law firm clients cannot meet with their clients in person, they have been conducting video consultations through modern technology such as Skype, Facetime, etc. We have messaged this both on their website and in their advertising.
You can message this as a banner notification across the website, and/or make a blog post. I recommend both. The benefits of adding these features is that it informs users that your business is staying up to date, and that your business is willing to suit your customer’s needs. You can also message this in your actual ad copies when necessary.
Doing this in your advertising and on your website is important so that you’re not turning away potential clients but rather you’re adapting to their needs.
Many people are going to cut costs by slashing their advertising budget or pausing advertising all together. If you’re still doing business during the crisis, this may actually be a mistake and I’ll explain why.
Around the time of the Great Depression, Kellogg and Post were both players in the cereal industry. Prior to the Great Depression, Post was dominating this industry. When the economy crashed, Post decided to slash their advertising budget significantly. Their thinking was, since the economy was struggling, not as many consumers would purchase their product and the company would bring in less revenue; thus, they wanted to save costs.
On the other hand, Kellogg continued to advertise. In fact the company doubled down on their advertising budget. This decision paid off as Kellogg surpassed Post and became the undisputed global leader in the cereal industry. As of 2018, Kellogg has an annual revenue of 13.54 Billion.
You can read more about this story in an article by The New Yorker called “Hanging Tough.”
What this story tells us is advertising during an economic downtown and keeping your brand name alive is a wise long term strategy. If your business is struggling and bringing in less revenue, the last thing you want to do is reduce or stop advertising as this will only make the situation worse.
It may be rocky for a month or two during the initial crisis phase as people are unsure about the future; however, they are still seeing your message. Maintaining an audience and a healthy pipeline will be beneficial once this crisis has passed, particularly when the economy begins to rise again.
Where To Cut Costs Instead
Instead of slashing your advertising budget or downsizing by laying off employees, the first area you should consider when saving costs is unnecessary subscriptions, services, or luxury items. For the next several months, your business should only be spending money on products or services that are essential to continue operating and growing your business.
For instance, this is a good time to review software subscriptions, office space rentals, and any other expense that although may provide convenience, is not actually contributing to the growth or survival of your business.
Discounts And Promotions
The use of discounts and promotions to obtain new clients is one method of potentially generating new business.
Prior to Michigan’s lockdown, I went to a new gym since my usual one was closed. They called me a couple days later to inform me that they’re having a major sale.
The sale was that new members can join for only $1. The sale was a tempting offer and I considered joining this gym, despite the fact it was inconveniently located a half hour from my home. Nevertheless, this is a good idea.
Discounts and promotions such as these help people during tough economic times and also provide an incentive for your business to obtain new clients or customers.